Reggie McKenzie is quietly attempting to put together a competitive squad in Oakland. The veterans that he has added bring with them championship experience which can only help this team grow. It will be all that much more exciting when we get to see who Reggie pulls out of his hat on draft day, but of course it is still a long wait for that with the draft being pushed back to May 8th this year.
Many NFL analysts have suggested the Raiders have under performed in free agency this year considering their cap space, but that is highly debatable. How an off-season where a team has added as many veterans with rings as the Raiders have could be looked down upon I do not understand. Then again, it doesn't matter what anybody thinks. At least not until the product hits the field anyway.
What could prove most exciting about the off-season so far is nearly every player the Raiders have added has something to prove. They have plenty of fuel for motivation to go out and show the world that they are still very good players.
This type of motivation takes the idea of competition to a whole new level because it has created competition within each player's own self and not just with the other players on the team. Players like Matt Schaub, Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Tuck, James Jones, Donald Penn and Lamarr Woodley all were left for dead on the heap of free agents. Most of them because they have reached less than desirable ages.
Those players are not just competing for their positions, they are competing for pride. They all are experienced veterans who have felt what it was like to be at or near the top of their respective positions. Now they are all players who were told that they weren't worth their contracts anymore and have had to move on.
This type of personal motivation is contagious. These guys are leaders by example, and they are coming to Oakland to play hard and win. There is no complacency, there is no lack of effort, there is only the all consuming desire to show that they have something left to give. The Raiders identified that as a valuable trait they hope to use to their advantage.
This can only be good for the team in the long run. A team that is centered around a core of veterans but with that core surrounded by impressionable young minds has a great chance of succeeding for the long haul. These veterans have a lot to teach but they were not brought in to be assistant coaches, they were brought in to compete and help this team win. There is not a better way to teach the young talent that this team plans to build upon for years to come, and it's a pretty damn good way to win some games in the process too.