A hallmark of Reggie McKenzie's tenure as Raiders GM has been his relentless push toward financial responsibility. He runs things in stark contrast to the way Al Davis would- he takes a long-term view of the franchise's health, with an eye toward a smart, slow rebuild. He hasn't overpaid for a player yet (Rodger Saffold doesn't count) and won't risk long-term solvency for short-term gains. Al Davis hated losing far too much to ever do what truly needed to be done in his later years and completely tear down the team, choosing instead to splurge on big contracts for players who usually turned out to be flashes in the pan. Al was a visionary on many fronts, especially coaching and diversity, but Reggie's way will ultimately prove more successful in the modern NFL.
The situation the Raiders found themselves in mirrors the one their cross-bay rivals, the 49ers found themselves in after Eddie DeBartolo's scorched-earth policy ran its course. The Niners were in cap hell and tore down everything except the stadium. They were awful for many years and slowly rebuilt themselves via the draft. Nearly every one of their current star players was drafted by the team- Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman, Colin Kaepernick (as well as current Chief Alex Smith) and Anthony Davis. In addition, they have made smart acquisitions of players in recent years, such as Justin Smith, Anquan Boldin and Donte Whitner, who cashed in on his time with the Niners in the form of a lucrative contract with the Browns this offseason. However, even with all the talent in the world, the Niners still weren't very good until they found a coach, Jim Harbaugh, who led the team to success not seen in San Francisco since the Bill Walsh years.
This is the model every NFL franchise ought to be following. Draft wisely, spend wisely, hire the best coach you can. It remains to be seen if Dennis Allen is that coach, because I'm not certain even Jim Harbaugh could have won seven games with the Raiders' roster last year.
Wide receiver will be a major concern for the Raiders going forward. The Raiders have a decent group of guys here. James Jones, Rod Streater, Andre Holmes and Denarius Moore are all talented. But if you think any one of these guys is the true number one receiver on a playoff team, you are misguided. They are all solid number two guys, but Matt Schaub is accustomed to throwing to Andre Johnson and he may have a harder time without a guy like that. Derek Carr shouldn't be handicapped with the lack of a true number one either; he has all the talent in the world and should be given the best chance to succeed.
The top receiver on the market in my mind would be Cincinnati's A.J. Green, but there's no way he doesn't get an extension from the Bengals. He will never see free agency in his prime. Some guys who might hit the market this coming offseason are Dez Bryant of Dallas, Michael Crabtree of the Niners and Roddy White of Atlanta. White has been displaced by Julio Jones as the Falcons' number one guy, but he still has plenty in the tank and is a veteran with great ability. Crabtree may want too much money to stay in San Francisco with all the stars they have gathered needing to be paid, and Bryant may have worn out his welcome in Dallas. DeMaryius Thomas was going to be a free agent but the Broncos have already offered him a lucrative extension an I would be surprised if he leaves Denver.
Receivers who may be available in the upcoming draft who would fit the number-one bill would be Alabama's Amari Cooper, USC's Nelson Agholor, and Stanford's Ty Montgomery. Cooper and Agholor are both legitimate deep threats with great size and excellent hands who can each dominate a game, while Montgomery hasn't even really shown his full potential in Stanford's run-first attack. He could be an even better pro than a collegiate athlete.
Reggie has thus far shown temperance and discretion in his player acquisitions, but if there's one spot where a superstar could really help the Raiders, it's wide receiver.