What an awful day it was to be an Oakland Raiders fan.
Not only were they forced to watch Tom Brady and the New England Patriots play the hated Denver Broncos on the 12th anniversary of the infamous tuck rule, but they also had to watch the cross bay rival San Francisco 49ers duke it out against our former divisional foe, the Seattle Seahawks.
It’s hard to believe that it has been more than a decade since the Raiders have played in a meaningful game. The pressure is now on Reggie McKenzie to bring the Raiders back to relevance. McKenzie has done a remarkable job in cleaning house and cutting bad contracts, but now is the time to see what he can do with $70 million in cap room this offseason. That’s right, Raider Nation, the Raiders will have more money to spend this offseason than any other team in the history of the NFL.
Don’t count on McKenzie to spend money on a superstar player like Jimmy Graham, because the Raiders have holes throughout the roster. Not only do they need a new quarterback, running back and offensive line, but they also need at least seven new starters on defense. Expect McKenzie to bring in solid system guys like Nick Roach and Tracy Porter, who can help change the losing culture that has permeated throughout the Raiders locker room for more than a decade.
Even though the Raiders have an absurd amount of money to play with, the most important move this offseason will be who the Raiders pick in the first round. McKenzie can select the face of the franchise by drafting Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater, but he must be absolutely certain that the quarterback pans out. The Raiders can also bring in a game changing wide receiver in Sammy Watkins or a potential Lawrence Taylor prototype defensive player in Jadeveon Clowney. No matter who McKenzie picks, the player must be a Pro Bowl caliber player for the next decade. The Raiders can no longer afford to waste top draft picks on players like Rolando McClain, JaMarcus Russell or Darrius Heyward-Bey.
We are finally out of the Al Davis induced salary cap hell that has kept the franchise in the dark ages for 11 years. You can basically call the Raiders an expansion team this offseason. They will have the money and top draft picks to rebuild the franchise from the bottom-up.
The rebirth of the Raider Nation begins now, so let’s hope that McKenzie leads us to some meaningful games over the next few years.