Oakland Raiders Owner Mark Davis recently sat down for a short chat with San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami. Mark went out of his way to make sure not to say anything controversial while seeming to hint that he is leaning towards giving more time to his current staff. Or did he?
Everybody knows the Raiders started to blow up the roster two years ago after the hiring of Reggie McKenzie as the General Manager. When he came in there was a ton of problems to fix with the way that this team was built. In order to correct the way the team was built they had to deconstruct it first.
“There’s three games to go, and they’re important games. I don’t really want to say anything more than that (about the status of the GM and coach) until after the season. But what I can tell you is we just went through the two-year deconstruction of the Raiders. We had to do it. It wasn’t fun, but it was something we had to do. And it’s basically complete. That is done.”
Thankfully, the deconstruction has created a ton of cap space for next year and these years of playing against a loaded deck are finally over. The dead money that the Raiders have had to deal with for the past two seasons has been a really debilitating factor in who the team was able to bring in, and some would argue that the talent brought in was better than what they rightfully could have expected considering the handicap.
“...The re-construction is going to begin right after this season is over. That’s what we’ve got to do—we’ve got to build this team back up. And we’re in a good position—with all the dead money, the cap stuff, the upside down contracts… they’re all gone. We’re in a strong position now with all that, because of how we’ve planned and gone through this deconstruction. And now we can go forward.”
Forward with who at the helm is the big question, and it is one that Mark Davis did not answer.
”I’m not going to get into any of that while the season’s going on. I can tell you that once the season’s over, Reggie will debrief all the coaches, and all that, and then Reggie will debrief me, and we’ll talk about what we’re going to do. That’s when the deconstruction turns into the re-construction, and we see how we’re going to go ahead with everything.”
The main point seems to be that nothing will be decided, at least not publicly, until after the season is over. Basically that equates to a “no comment” answer. It doesn't provide any real insight into the team other than to mention what we already know, that the salary cap sucked the past two years and now the Raiders finally wont have that problem anymore.
“It’s an exciting time for us. It’s also been a tough time for the fans, it’s been a tough time for me, it’s been a tough time for everybody. But what do they say about patience? If you’re committed to something, you have to be patient with it. That’s the thing about this season—at times we’ve shown that there’s something there, and at times we’ve shown that maybe there’s not. There’s progress, if you look at it that way, because it makes the disappointment that much harder. When you’ve made some progress, patience is a harder thing to have.”
We can speculate what he means by this comment all we want, but again he really just did not give an answer. Many have latched onto the word “patience” as a hint that the Raiders staff will remain with the team, but we don't really know if that is what he is thinking behind the scenes. In fact, he even says patience is a harder thing to have when you feel like there was progress within the team and that could easily suggest he might have trouble with the patience needed to stay the current path.
What we know right now is that the Raiders expected that going through these salary cap issues would be tough and now those issues are almost behind them. They have a lot more leeway to make moves next year so they can bring in more players to fill their many needs. This was all part of Mark Davis and Reggie McKenzie's plan for the team.
We also know that as far as the GM is concerned, Mark Davis is happy with the job that he has done. This is also something that we already suspected to be the case considering Reggie's moneyball-esque approach to this year saved a lot of money for Mark, and now next year the limitations on the roster are over. The fact that Mark is happy with Reggie is one of the only things that he did confirm actually.
“I’m very happy with the job he’s done so far.”
So there you have it folks! A whole lot of nothing. We know now pretty much exactly what we already knew; the cap space has been crappy these two years, the cap space wont be crappy next season, and Reggie McKenzie has not lost Mark Davis' faith yet. For anything else, we will have to wait and see how these next three divisional games play out.
As far as the Raiders getting a new stadium is concerned, Mark did confirm that there was an upcoming meeting scheduled but did not give any details about it. He also pretty much confirmed that the Raiders do not have any interest in sharing the 49ers' new stadium.
“I don’t want to go to Santa Clara. That’s just not a Raider place to be.”