Raiders' GM Reggie McKenzie Has Found a New Way to Mortgage the Future

D.J. O'ConnorSenior Analyst IIIMarch 11, 2013

ALAMEDA, CA - JANUARY 30:  New Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis  Allen (L) greets Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie (C) and team owner Mark Davis during a press conference on January 30, 2012 in Alameda, California. Dennis Allen was introduced as the new coach of the Oakland Raiders, replacing Hue Jackson who was fired after one season.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

One of the biggest problems with the Oakland Raiders franchise over the last few seasons has been the front office making moves that have improved the team in the short term, but sacrificed the well-being of the team in the long run.

Transactions such as the trades for Richard Seymour and Carson Palmer come to mind immediately.  Both trades were made to improve the team in the present, but sacrificed the future. Also, both cost the Raiders a first-round pick (2011 and 2012) and a second-round pick (2012).  

The practice of trading premium draft picks for aging veterans seems to have ended, as Reggie McKenzie has taken over the football operations of the team. McKenzie has plans to build through the draft as the Raiders are now in rebuilding mode.

While McKenzie has worked to acquire more picks (trading Louis Murphy to the Panthers for a late-round pick), he has also needed to clear up the salary cap mess he inherited from the Raiders mortgaging the future in years past.

Now, the Raiders are paying for those trades for Seymour and Palmer because of the massive cap numbers the Raiders they have had to pay for the two aging veterans.  

The Raiders have made other bad business moves in the past that they are paying for such as the contracts for Tommy Kelly and Michael Huff, who are still on the team, as well as the dead money for contracts of players they released, such as Stanford Routt and Kevin Boss.

So to help the team for the short-term future, McKenzie has needed to clear up cap room and has been restructuring contracts both last year and this offseason, in order for the Raiders can be semi-active in free agency when the market opens up Tuesday.  


While the restructuring of contracts for Palmer, Tyvon Branch, Mike Brisiel, Huff and others have helped for the present, all restructuring a contract does is delay the inevitable pay up.

McKenzie is not giving out pay cuts with both the team's present status and future in mind. Rather, he is simply reducing cap hits now by transferring money from a base salary to a roster bonus which can be paid throughout the life of the contract. He is creating long-term problems in hopes of the short-term benefits.

Sound familiar?

McKenzie may be hanging onto his draft picks, but he is pushing off big paychecks for his players which will hurt the team in the long run.  

He might be hanging onto the future's drat picks, but he is taking the future's credit card. McKenzie is digging himself out of the hole he inherited and into another by that very process. 

If McKenzie gets too restructure-happy to free up cap space this year, the Raiders could be in even worse financial shape down the road than they were last year.