Rolando McClain shouldn't be back in 2013.
The Oakland Raiders have 17 players that will be unrestricted free agents when the new league year starts March 12. Unfortunately, having 17 free agents is not the only issue facing Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen this offseason.
McKenzie and Allen are facing another year of taking on a lot of dead money with the idea that things will ease up in 2014. There are still outstanding bad contracts to shed from the team’s recent past. The Raiders will also have all of their draft picks in 2014 and the true healing can begin.
As frustrating as it has been for Raider Nation, it’s really unfair to judge the work of McKenzie and Allen until after the 2014 season. The Raiders haven’t had many draft picks and have been stuck with overpaid and underperforming players.
There is a clear path to becoming a great team again, and it starts with cutting the dead weight.
The Raiders are just waiting to cut McClain so they can spread out the cap hit over two seasons. McClain has had multiple arrests in his hometown and was suspended by the team at the end of the season.
McClain returned from the suspension and was inactive. McClain had already lost his job on third downs prior to the suspension. Not matter what way you slice it, this is a bad situation for the Raiders and McClain will be released.
McClain’s cap hit is $6.7 million in 2013, according to spotrac.com, and the Raiders would save just a little more than $1 million by cutting him against the cap. The reality is that McClain isn’t going to see his base salary in 2013 or 2014.
The Raiders have moved on, and they will move on without McClain in 2013 and be better off. McClain never lived up to his draft status or his paycheck.
While not technically a free agent, Richard Seymour’s contract will void at the end of the league year, according to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle. Seymour's contract makes this a passive move for the Raiders. Seymour’s contract was one of the most gluttonous inherited by McKenzie, and he had to restructure last offseason.
Seymour is still a good player, but he played in just eight games in 2012 and will be 34 next season. There’s an outside chance the Raiders will bring Seymour back, but it appears that it’s time for the Raiders to part ways with him.
The Raiders have a lot of money still invested in Tommy Kelly, will look to re-sign Desmond Bryant and could probably stand to move Lamarr Houston inside. There’s just not a lot of need for the veteran defensive tackle, and the Raiders need a young defensive leader to take over.
Much like Seymour, Michael Huff’s contract was restructured last year. Despite Huff’s versatility, the Raiders aren’t likely to want to pay him the $11.3 million dollars against the cap he will cost the team in 2013 and 2014, according to spotrac.com.
Either Huff’s contract will void at the end of the season or the Raiders will release him. Huff is due $4 million in the form of a roster bonus the next two seasons to go with his $4 million in base salary and prorated signing bonus.
Huff has proven versatile as he’s played safety and cornerback, but there’s no way he’s been worth what his contract will pay him in 2013. The Raiders may attempt to re-sign Huff for a lesser amount, but he’s going to get a chance to test the open market.
Although he’s improved since his rookie year, Darrius Heyward-Bey’s contract and a wealth of young talent behind him means he’s not likely to return in 2012. According to spotrac.com, Heyward-Bey is due a contract of $10.6 million in 2013.
More than $7.7 million of his cap hit in 2013 is in the form of base salary, which means the Raiders can save a significant amount of cap space by releasing him. There remains a possibility of a restructuring, but it seems likely the Raiders will turn to a receiving corps with Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Juron Criner and Rod Streater in 2013.
It’s worth noting that Heyward-Bey has worked extremely hard to develop into a good player. Receivers usually make a jump between their second year and fourth year, but he is entering his fifth season.
Heyward-Bey has probably reached his potential and is an average No. 2 wide receiver if used properly. He shouldn’t fetch more than a couple million per year on the open market
The one player on this list that McKenzie is responsible for signing is Mike Brisiel. The thought was that Brisiel would come in and solidify the offensive line with the switch to the zone-blocking scheme.
The experiment failed and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and offensive line coach Frank Pollack were fired at the end of the season. Unless the Raiders keep the zone-blocking scheme, there’s no reason to keep Brisiel around.
McKenzie structured Brisiel’s deal in such a way that releasing him would not be too damaging. The Raiders would actually save $1.6 million against the salary cut by releasing Brisiel. Brisiel is due $4.4 million in base salary with $2.7 million left in prorated signing bonus, according to spotrac.com.
With Khalif Barnes and Cooper Carlisle being free agents, the Raiders could have three new starters on the offensive line in 2013.