Building a successful NFL team isn’t as easy as drafting a fantasy team, as Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie knows very well.
After taking over the Raiders in January of 2012, McKenzie had his share of bad moves. He hired Dennis Allen as a head coach, and Allen flopped. He also traded for quarterback Matt Schaub, who couldn’t win a starting job. He invested in free agents such as defensive linemen Justin Tuck, Antonio Smith and LaMarr Woodley, running back Maurice Jones-Drew and wide receiver James Jones, who never did much in silver and black.
But a lot has changed since. Over the past three seasons, McKenzie has had the golden touch in both free agency and the draft, and the team in 2016 improved to 12-4 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
This week, The Sporting News recognized what McKenzie has done, selecting him as its NFL Executive of the Year. McKenzie also was selected Executive of the Year in January by the Pro Football Writers of America.
Though the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas was approved by a vote of NFL owners Monday, the team isn’t expected to move from Oakland for the next two to three seasons. So, Raiders fans in the Bay Area will still get to appreciate McKenzie’s efforts in 2017.
McKenzie has said any awards he receives are “for the organization.”
“You see the entire organization working together for the win,” he’s said.
Jeff Diamond of The Sporting News wrote that after McKenzie was on the “ultra-hot seat” for the Raiders starting out 8-34 under his leadership, the team has “turned things around with a major influx of player and coaching talent.”
Diamond pointed to McKenzie’s high-impact additions such as Donald Penn, Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson on the offensive line, NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack, wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree and quarterback Derek Carr.
Now McKenzie's big task will be to continue to improve the team while managing the salary cap.
Wrote Diamond: “After coming out of the abyss of his first few years on the job, McKenzie should be able to manage. The future looks bright for the 2016 Sporting News NFL Executive of the Year.”