After two 4-12 seasons in their first two years with the Oakland Raiders, general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen were not assured of still being part of the organization. Owner Mark Davis made the decision to bring them back for another season, but the expectations will be much higher for 2014.
“We’re excited about the opportunities that are coming for us in 2014 from adding players to help bolster this roster, from the draft, as well as free agency,” McKenzie said in his sit down with media members. “But we’re excited about the continuity we’re bringing back and we’re looking forward to winning a lot more games this year.”
This is the year the Raiders will have no excuses. They are finally at a place where they have loads of salary cap space. McKenzie spent his first two years clearing space to get to this point. In the 2014 NFL Draft, they will have the fifth overall selection and a full compliment of picks, which will be McKenzie's second first round selection after taking cornerback DJ Hayden a year ago. Last season because of the cap situation, they were only able to sign players to one or two year deals and as a result started 10 new players of defense. Now the Raiders have the resources to build a team for next season and into the future.
“When you really look at it, 10 players who were starting for 85% of the season were different than the year before,” McKenzie said. “It’s not a simple task. But, you still want to get better. If we can, whatever that number is – six, seven, eight – there are still going to be some changes. Continuity helps, but great players and really good players would help more and add to that continuity.”
Even with the cap space and draft selections, this will not be an easy fix. The Raiders have one of the least talented rosters in the NFL. They have needs at a variety of positions to address this offseason. First and foremost they have to make a decision about their quarterbacks. Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor have a long way to go before they are legitimate starters in the league. The Raiders need help of the defensive line starting with re-signing Lamarr Houston and then getting more help via free agency or the draft. The could use another playmaker at wide receiver and more depth in the secondary as well as a possible offensive line addition.
“We have biggest needs, with an ‘s’,” McKenzie said. “We’re going to attack it however way. I don’t care if it’s off of a waiver wire, if somebody gets cut. If it’s an unrestricted guy, trade, draft, we’re going to do whatever we can to upgrade this team and we will. It’s a two-way street in some of those instances, but we’re going to upgrade this team personnel-wise.”
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