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Raiders could be done with contract restructures this year

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Tyvon Branch #33 of the Oakland Raiders
Tyvon Branch #33 of the Oakland Raiders

The ability for teams to restructure contracts may be a magic wand of sorts, but it isn't a magic bullet. In other words, it can magically lower immediate salary cap numbers but it won't solve the team's long term problems.

When fans see that the Raiders are less than $4 million under the salary cap, many think "why don't they just restructure some more contracts." The problem with this logic is...well it just isn't logical. That restructured money has to go somewhere. Typically it comes in the form of a signing bonus which lowers the initial cap hit and spreads the money over the life of the contract.

But doing that is mortgaging the future for the present. So it must be done sparingly. If a player has three or four years left on their contract, it will simply raise their future cap numbers to restructure. It works best with players who have a year or two left on their contract. Because then, the team can extend their contract (if they're willing) and spread the money out over the additional years.

Reggie McKenzie is not willing to continue to put himself in this financial bind every offseason. And according to him, the Raiders are pretty much done with the salary restructuring for 2012

"Well, not a whole lot more this year. I think the bulk of it has been done. Now it's just you try to wait it out and see who the best fit for these 53 guys in the long run to make this team. And then try to figure out... at this point it's going to be production and talent. It's not about money, money, money as far as the comings and goings of players. Or the goings, mainly."

That last part drew a bit of a chuckle from both McKenzie and the media as he is referring to the expensive cuts he made this offseason.

The one contract the team would like to continue to work on is that of Tyvon Branch. He was slapped with the franchise tag and the team would like to lock him long term. This is partially because he is a good player and partially because a long term deal would lower his $6.4 million franchise tag salary cap hit this season considerably. But if it doesn't happen quickly, there may not be a sense of urgency left on it as the free agents remaining on the market won't be all that expensive anyway.

Other contracts that are pretty high and yet to be touched are Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Sebastian Janikowski, and Shane Lechler. I don't expect any of their contracts to change.

The team is not eager to backload any more money on either McFadden or DHB's contracts until they see if McFadden can stay healthy and DHB can continue his progression. Janikowski and Lechler have proven their worth as the best kicker/punter tandem in the NFL and their contracts will likely stay as they are for now.