Veteran presence has always been part of Reggie McKenzie's plan

The 2014 Oakland Raiders are not going to look a lot like the 2013 Oakland Raiders did, and that is a good thing. There is little doubt that the Raiders moves this off-season, though questionable at times, have the team improved. The question is whether they have improved enough.

There are still a lot of changes on the horizon that will have a major impact on the team. They have the draft to look forward to and there are always players available (Desean Jackson!) that could help make this team better. It will be very intriguing to watch while Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders continue to add talent to the roster.

A lot of the commentary surrounding the Raiders moves this off-season has been negative, but that is what is expected when outsiders talk about the Silver and Black after so many years of failure. The main theme for most analysts watching is that the Raiders are getting older and only slightly better, leaving them still behind the 8ball in their progression with the team.

That is what I keep reading at least, that the Raiders are foolishly betting on veterans like Justin Tuck, Antonio Smith, Lamarr Woodley, and Matt Schaub as stop gaps that are on the downside of their careers. That these players are being added in desperation to win now.

Now it is hard to argue the downside of their careers aspect, but that is only because they have all already had solid and extensive careers. The stop gaps and the win now desperation are the parts that are ripe for arguments. In this day and age players are playing later and later into their careers, the early 30's are not the athletic death sentence that they used to be and veterans are very important in the overall plan.

When you think of stop-gaps you think of one year solutions until something better comes along, but if these players play well they each have multiple years left in them. These veterans all have winning experience and they all have chips on their shoulders to show the world that they are not done. Plus, they are all on reasonable contracts and if they play well for the duration of their deals they will have been worth every penny.

Beyond the thought process that the Raiders are just getting older and not majorly better is the lack of recognition of what Reggie McKenzie's overall plan has always been; build a consistent competitor through the draft.

With the plan being to build through the draft over the next couple of years it makes perfect sense for the Raiders current plans to include older, capable veterans. It is going to take a few drafts to build this team up using the draft, and when the rookies come in they need to have veterans around to teach them how to win.

You can't expect to build a team based off of youth without having the proper teachers in place, hence the influx of veteran players with winning in their blood. Having young talent is one thing, but teaching young talent is what separates the winners from the mediocre and worse. It is all well and good to build through the draft, but you also need the infrastructure in place to teach them to win along with the young talent.

The consensus seems to be that these veterans are being added as part of a win-now pressure filled situation in Oakland after Mark Davis said there were “no more excuses”. That implies that these moves are made in desperation to win enough games to keep Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie's jobs intact, but that is exactly what I disagree with. Adding veterans like this has been the plan all along, they are not desperation moves.

The plan from the very beginning has been to build through the draft and add capable veterans to play until the youth is ready to take over. Bring in veterans to play their last solid years on a team that appreciates their efforts and let them teach the next generation how to be professionals in the process. The interpretation by many on the outside may be that Reggie is swinging to get wins, but the reality is that he is doing everything that he planned to do all along.

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