You've got to wait on Raiders' general manager Reggie McKenzie, give him a chance. Don't judge him on his first two horrible seasons. Those weren't his fault. He had to tear down Al Davis' mess. You can't judge McKenzie until Year 3.
Fifteen minutes into Year 3, McKenzie flopped.
McKenzie let the Raiders' left tackle, Jared Veldheer, walk away to the Arizona Cardinals for a five-year, $35 million contract as soon as free agency began. A few minutes later, McKenzie gave more money &#8211; $42.5 million over five years &#8211; to a lesser player, Rodger Saffold. He is a better offensive guard than an offensive tackle.
Now, the Raiders have to spend their first-round pick in the upcoming draft on a left tackle, the most important position on the offensive line. They can't trade down &#8211; all of the good left tackles will be gone after the top 10 picks. And the Raiders can't take a quarterback with their first pick, either, because Veldheer isn't around to protect him.
Ain't that a shame?
Around the same time Veldheer signed with the Cardinals, the Raiders' free agent defensive end Lamarr Houston signed with the Chicago Bears. McKenzie just let him go. The Raiders have one of the least-talented rosters in the NFL and more cap space than any other team, but McKenzie let his top two free agents walk.
Not a good 15 minutes for Reggie McKenzie. It almost seems like he was trying to make the Raiders worse, if that's possible.
He could have franchised Veldheer or Houston. He didn't. Instead, it seems like players are fleeing the Raiders.
Who did McKenzie choose to re-sign? Darren McFadden, the running back who never has played a full season during his six-year NFL career, and has the durability of a cream puff.
What a mistake. The Raiders will be lucky to win five games next season.
It's not like these mistakes were firsts for McKenzie. He made mistakes last year, too. Remember, he traded for Matt Flynn, a bust. And the top-two players McKenzie drafted &#8211; D.J. Hayden and Menelik Watson &#8211; played 13 games combined last season.
McKenzie appears to be in over his head. The decisions to re-sign McFadden and not Veldheer or Houston, to trade for Flynn, and to draft Hayden and Watson all had come from McKenzie, because Raiders' owner Mark Davis sure doesn't know football. He depends on McKenzie, for better or worse, mostly worse.
Unfortunately for Davis, he will not find the answers to the Raiders' problems in a fortune cookie with his lunch at PF Chang's.
At minimum, there are five problems on Davis' plate:
1. Himself. Davis has relatively little experience as an owner, and nobody to turn to for mentoring or consulting. Talking to John Madden and Ron Wolf obviously has not helped.
2. Bad stadium. Davis can't get a new one any time soon. The 49ers built three locker rooms in their new Santa Clara stadium &#8211; one for the Niners, one for their opponent and one for a third team who could share the stadium with the Niners for a price. If Davis can swallow his silver-and-black pride, the Raiders can become the 49ers' tenants.
3. McKenzie. A general manager in his first rodeo, and the bull is about to throw him to the ground and stomp him. McKenzie probably will not get a contract extension in 2015.