Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE
It feels like the sky is falling in Raider Nation but nobody knows the future. We all must remember that patience, though a virtue, is key at times like this. The roster is now clear for them to mold it into what they need for the long haul.
The Raiders roster has been slashed and burned like farmers' fields in the early parts of human history. Farmers used to burn their fields after each years crop was harvested so that the nutrients returned to the soil for next year's crop. This is what the Raiders have just done with their roster.
Now that the fire has been extinguished and the dead crops are all removed the new field of crops can be planted and cultivated. Does it hurt that we now see such a barren landscape in front of us? Of course it does, because the uncertainty of where they are heading always causes pain and nervousness. That does not make it wrong for what is happening within the Oakland Raiders organization, it just makes it different.
The fact of the matter is that the players that the Raiders really are going to miss that left them yesterday are Phillip Wheeler and Desmond Bryant, but they are also players that got paid extremely handsomely by other teams based off of performances that nobody knows if they can duplicate.
Other teams had the luxury of paying handsomely for possible production, the Raiders did not. That is what put them in the dire straights that their salary cap was in when Reggie McKenzie took over and they can not afford to make the same mistakes again. It is unfortunate that two players that might continue to get better had to be casualties, but the Raiders simply could not pay that type of money to keep players that might not prove to be worthy of it.
As for Michael Huff and Darrius Heyward-Bey, they never lived up to their salaries. Michael Huff was drafted to be an elite Safety and turned out to be an above average one. Darrius Heyward-Bey was drafted to be a number 1 receiver and was paid like one of the absolute best in the league while not being able to provide that type of production on the field.
I will miss Heyward-Bey more than Huff. I always appreciated the work ethic that he brought with him and the constant trying to get better. He was never able to meet his number 7 overall expectations which was more the fault of Al Davis for drafting him there then anything Hey-Bey could have done.
He became a productive wide receiver in the NFL when for years he looked like even that would be out of reach, unfortunately his $10M salary was just not able to be justified. Think of it this way, the amount of money that Darrius was set to make this year was similar to that which Dwayne Bowe makes in KC and Greg Jennings is likely to sign for somewhere. Obviously DHB is not in that level and shouldn't be paid comparatively.
Now that the Raiders have gutted their roster they have what Levi Damien referred to as a blank canvas to work on. Raider Nation will now see just how valuable of an asset Reggie McKenzie will be. He has the roster in a position to really make it his own and bring in the players that he and the Raiders coaching staff want to work with.
It's unfortunate that such a mass exodus has occurred but when looking at the Raiders of last year how many of those positions could really be considered safe and secured? The Raiders were not good last year, we all witnessed the terribleness of it. So why bother worrying about all the players that left that were part of that monstrosity?
The Raiders need to get better and they need to get better in just about every position on the team. If this is how they are going to be able to get better than Raider Nation should try and be patient and support the new direction. It is scary seeing such a depleted roster and even scarier when you see the Kansas City Chiefs making so many moves to get better but not every team can get better by grabbing as many free agents as they can.
Sometimes it takes the slash and burn technique to get the team to where they really need to be. Reggie McKenzie believes in building through the draft and in the long run these moves are going to help the Raiders become the consistent powerhouse that they once were.
It is tough having such high hopes for free agency only to see the Raiders not sign anybody while losing players left and right but sometimes that is just the nature of the beast. The roster being emptied like this is going to allow the team to go out and find the right players for their system. It is going to take time and hopefully that doesn't mean another wasted season.
They are now building for the long haul instead of the short run. Al Davis was king of the short runs, always looking at the now instead of the future. Reggie McKenzie has a different approach and its going to build a team that can compete for years instead of from year to year. It takes patience that Raider Nation is all out of but despite the pitchforks and torches being brought out this is now the direction the Raiders have taken.