The Raiders were so bad in 2012 that they earned the third overall choice in this month’s NFL draft. They’ve also cut so many big-name veterans that their roster is hardly recognizable to their fans and their prospects for going to the playoffs in 2013 are in the “slim to none” category.
Yet owner Mark Davis is satisfied about the direction his franchise is taking and confident that general manager Reggie McKenzie is the man to restructure the team into a consistent winner.
In an interview with Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group Monday, Davis says he can see “light at the end of the tunnel.”
Some have questioned whether McKenzie might be on the hot seat if the Raiders have another woeful season in 2013, but Davis dismissed those questions, saying McKenzie’s roster purge is exactly the long-term plan necessary.
In getting rid of high-salaried players such as Carson Palmer, Michael Huff, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Richard Seymour, Kamerion Wimbley and Kevin Boss, Davis says the Raiders are getting their salary structure back under control and laying the foundation for rebuilding the roster in a managed, thoughtful way.
“It’s something that was necessary,” Davis told Corkan. “It was clearly evident. We needed to do some more restructuring, all the way down to the brass bolts.”
Now, says Davis, McKenzie can rebuild through the draft, beginning with the first round on April 25 when Oakland has the third pick. Davis said by bringing stability back to the roster, he hopes to build a consistent winner the way the 49ers have done across the bay.
“What we’re trying to build a team that is going to go after Super Bowls,” Davis said, noting that the process will take awhile. “It can’t just be a one-shot deal.”
Though he’d love to see Oakland contend in the AFC West this coming season, that’s not the measuring stick by which he’ll evaluate McKenzie, head coach Dennis Allen and the rest of the organization.
“I hired Reggie knowing what the process was going to be,” Davis told Corkran. “I have no problem with where it’s going so far on the player personnel side. That’s where his expertise is.”
McKenzie, meanwhile, recently said he’s not worried about the short-term consequences of perhaps losing his job with the long-term, big picture in his sights. He’s going to do what he feels is the best thing to do to remake the roster in a sensible manner.
“I just think of doing what’s needed to make this team the best it can be long-term,” he told Sports Illustrated. “That’s my job. But fearful? No. Not at all. Mark knew the cap part of this was going to be a two-year deal. Mark is not his father. He is allowing me to do this, and we talk about the process all the time. He’s allowing me to do the job that needs to be done.”