It has been just over a week since Free Agency started. If you have been following along, it probably felt like a lot longer. Remember way back when we were two hours into it and everyone was freaking out about the Raiders not doing anything? Good times.
Since then, the team cut three of their own players - Darrius Heyward-Bey, Michael Huff, and Dave Tollefson and re-signed two others - cornerbacks Philip Adams and Coye Francies. They then went out and signed six free agents - Linebackers Kaluka Maiava, Nick Roach, and Kevin Burnett, and defensive linemen Jason Hunter, Pat Sims, and Vance Walker.
It has been a busy week to be certain, but it's nothing compared to last offseason. This off-season the focus was on overhauling the team itself while last offseason it was a major makeover of the organization which included an overhaul of the coaching staff. Then some tweaking was to be done with the team.
So despite all the cuts and signings, that's nothing compared to last season according to Dennis Allen.
"Last year was a mad dash," Dennis Allen told reporters at the owners meetings Tuesday. "This year is really actually calm, as far as what's going on in the organization, what's going on with the coaches, the personnel. We have a real plan, a real vision for what we want to do with this thing."
Things are expected to continue to slow down with just a few vacant positions the team may look to fill in free agency such as defensive back and offensive tackle. If it wasn't already obvious, these aren't the Raiders of old. The new approach is that of steady, long term success. Not the big payouts to try and find that one hit wonder.
"We're trying to build this team and it's not one piece that makes the difference," said Allen. "So, the draft, if you want to look at the teams that have been able to draft well, they're the teams that, they're in this year, they're in it next year, they're in it the year after that, and the year after. That's what we want to be. We want to be one of those teams. We don't want to be a flash in the pan, you know, where you show up for a year, and here we are, we're a playoff contender, and then the next year you don't hear from us. We want to build a team that's going to compete year in and year out."
"Those are three great business models to follow, when you look at the success they've had in this league," said Allen. "That's one of things we try to do. We try to look at the teams that have been successful and how they've done it. The teams that have sustained success in this league have done it with an accumulation of smart decisions, smart business decisions, smart football decisions. That's really what we want to do. We're really not into microwave economics, where you're trying to get everything done right now, and you're trying to get out and make a big splash, and you say, ‘Well, we won March.' We want to win November, December and January. That's what we want this team to do (eventually)."
You can toss the Packers in there too. Reggie McKenzie brought his philosophy of sustained success from Green Bay to the Raiders. He and Dennis Allen are of like minds in that. Build a solid foundation with a long view.
All of this said, there really is no reason the Raiders can't remain competitive in the short term as well. There are a lot of fans who already see the long term approach the Raiders are taking and have accepted the idea the Raiders will not be competitive this season.
The free agents the team has signed are not ‘big names' and for the most part are not proven commodities, but they are also not simply the only player who would answer the phone when they saw an Alameda area code on the caller ID.
Some of them will prove to be solid contributors at or even an improvement over those of whom they replaced. Others will keep the spot warm until the team can draft the future starter. These new acquisitions will join some already solid core players who were a big reason the team escaping their run of double digit loss seasons in 2011.
The outlook is a positive one. It says there is no reason to be resigned to the idea of sacrificing short term success while at the same time plenty of reason to have confidence in the prospect of long term success.