In the short time Reggie McKenzie has been General Manager of the Oakland Raiders, he's shown himself to be assertive, to say the least. Within days of being named Oakland's GM, he fired head coach Hue Jackson, citing a desire to bring in his "own guy."
After hiring former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen and a bevy of assistant coaches, McKenzie has turned his attention to the personnel on the field. On Thursday, McKenzie made the first of what is expected to be many moves: releasing cornerback Stanford Routt.
Severely overpaid, Routt was entering the second year of a five-year, $54.5 million contract (with an incredible $20 million guaranteed). Despite the high price tag, he displayed a penchant for committing stupid penalties and poor tackling.
Routt was due a $5 million bonus on Friday and was scheduled to make an additional $5 million in salary. The move saves the Raiders significant money while ridding them of another player that appeared to coast off of the loyalty of Al Davis.
The release of Routt is most likely just the beginning of a purge of the Raiders roster, and if McKenzie's reshaping of the coaching staff is any indication, it will be swift and concise. Other players who could be on the chopping block are defensive player Richard Seymour (due to make a ridiculous $15 million in salary and bonuses this season), safety Michael Huff and linebacker Kamerion Wimbley.
McKenzie's willingness to cut anyone who doesn't perform up to his contract, regardless of the name, is a departure from the Al Davis days, where loyalty to players often trumped the reality on game day. In the new Raider Nation, performance on the field, not relationships off of it, is what counts.