The Oakland Raiders have officially released veteran defensive tackle Tommy Kelly in a move that proves the team is prepared to go younger.
The Raiders used to be the team that would buy up the proven free agents, even if they were past their prime. The game plan was to spend money in order to make money. Oakland believed that if they had enough stars together no matter how old they were, the organization would be able to flourish.
However, general managers and team presidents throughout the NFL have realized this is no longer the way to do things. The Green Bay Packers proved in 2010 that a team made up of mostly home grown talent could win the Super Bowl. With Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, former director of football operations for the Packers, leading the charge in Oakland, expect to see a similar deal.
The Raiders are simply going to shed veteran players with big contracts in favor of building through the draft.
Kelly has been a remarkable player for Oakland over the past 10 years, but it should not come as a surprise to anyone that he was released. The organization will part ways with the 32-year-old while he still has two years left on his seven-year, $50.1 million contract that he inked in 2008. The move gives the Raiders $6.5 million of breathing room they would not have had otherwise.
Kelly has not missed a game in five seasons, and proved to be a legitimate threat in the middle over that span. Unfortunately, he posted one of his worst seasons in recent years, which gave McKenzie the confidence that the veteran is very likely over the hill. To go from recording 7.5 sacks to 1.5 sacks in one season is never a good sign.
There is no doubt that Kelly will find a team that wants him at some point this offseason, but it will certainly not be for the same kind of money he would have made as a member of the Raiders this year.