In 2012, Raiders' GM Reggie McKenzie took his first crack at leading a team in free agency. With that rookie year as the GM came rookie mistakes.
Philip Wheeler left the Indianapolis Colts for the Oakland Raiders in 2012 for a one-year contract worth under $1 million. A year later, Wheeler was back in free agency and got a lucrative contract with the Miami Dolphins and left the Raiders.
In Wheeler's lone year as a Raider he had 109 tackles and took over as the leader of the defense. He took the "green dot helmet" to communicate with the sideline from Rolando McClain. Wheeler was thought to be worthy of the franchise tag by some to insure he would be back in Oakland.
Let that be a lesson to Reggie McKenzie. The best player McKenzie signed in his first year as GM left the team one year later.
Here in the 2013 offseason, McKenzie seems to have learned his lesson after watching Wheeler leave. Most of the Raiders free agent pickups have been signed to multi-year contracts. At least the two deals that we know the terms of--linebackers Nick Roach and Kaluka Maiava-- are multi-year contracts.
It was a smart move by McKenzie to sign these players to contracts longer than just one year. If the players turn out to be great fits in Oakland, like Wheeler, they won't leave after a year as easily as Wheeler.
If the players turn out to be busts, then bring in new players next year to compete. These are not big, lucrative contracts. Roach is getting $3-4 million per year while Maiava is getting an average of $2 million per year. If either player needs to be released after just one year, there won't be much dead money as a penalty.
McKenzie seems to have learned from the rookie mistake of giving Wheeler a one-year deal and I say McKenzie is improving in terms of free agency as he continues to grow as a GM.