The Raiders and general manager Reggie McKenzie have had great flexibility over the past two seasons to add key pieces through free agency.
Their room under the salary cap has been enormous, and McKenzie has made the most of it. Already this offseason, Oakland has added linebacker Bruce Irvin, guard Kelechi Osemele, cornerback Sean Smith and safety Reggie Nelson. Since taking over the franchise operations, McKenzie has made smart decisions about money and talent.
But that era of great salary-cap flexibility may soon come to an end.
One of the reasons for Oakland’s position has been the fact the Raiders are led by young quarterback Derek Carr, who’s still playing on his rookie contract. While so many other teams have to devote huge chunks of their salary space to a veteran quarterback, Carr took up just over $1.2 million in cap space in 2015. That number increases to $1.46 million in 2016 and $1.7 million in 2017, according to overthecap.com, a website that tracks all NFL salaries.
This week, NFL salary cap expert Joel Corry said in an interview on 95.7 The Game that he expects the Raiders will have to pay as much as $20 million per year for Carr when they renegotiate his deal. The team and Carr could come up with a contract extension as early as 2017, before Carr plays his final season on his rookie contract.
Said Corry, on the show, according to Raidersbeat.com: “It’s always cheaper to re-sign a great player sooner rather than later.”