This time of year, you won’t be getting a lot of definitive answers from Reggie McKenzie as to what direction the Raiders will be going in free agency and the draft. But if you listen closely, you can get hear some hints as to what the team is thinking.
Thursday Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie spoke with Bay Area radio personality JT The Brick on 95.7 The Game. Here are a few of the interesting free agency statements McKenzie made along with my take on it.
JT: How big priority is Latavius Murray?
McZ: “It’s hard to, when you’re talking about a guy that’s close to 6-3, 230 pounds, there’s not a whole lot of similar you can get there. He’s one of those kinds that don’t come around too often when you talk about size. I’m always in position to want to sign our own players, but the finances of it will always play a part. But you never know. There are always 31 other teams out there that will be communicating to his representatives and we’ll see where it goes. We like to re-sign our players.”
My take: Right off the top, it sounds like McKenzie expects Murray to test the market. As opposed to locking up his big back prior to the free agency tampering period later. This is not a surprising move. It has been expected that Murray would look to cash in on his next contract, which will likely be his biggest as an NFL back, and McKenzie has long been known for having a figure in mind he would be willing to pay. Should Murray find a better offer elsewhere; bye bye.
JT: Were you happy with the play of Sean Smith and David Amerson? Do you need another cover corner?
McZ: “When you talk about current players on the roster, it’s an ongoing evaluation. Coach evaluates what they did and didn’t do from a personnel standpoint we do the same. We felt like all our players made mistakes out there and (need) to get better at certain spots, but we’re gonna always try to get better and improve the depth because any moment a guy can get hurt and miss a game or two and we have to be ready to step up with the next man. To get a guy in here, we try to do that at every position. So, that’s not just at the corner position so we’re gonna upgrade at all the positions. DJ [Hayden] got hurt and was out for the year, so we got some work to do.”
My take: It sounds to me like Smith and Amerson aren’t going anywhere. The team made the decision in the offseason to let go of defensive backs coach, Marcus Robertson. That would suggest that they thought it was a coaching issue. Both Amerson and Smith played much better the previous season (Smith with the Chiefs), leading to their big contracts with the Raiders. McKenzie shifts the focus to that of depth and mentions DJ Hayden, who played in the slot. Leading to the addition of a nickel slot corner as the direction the Raiders will most likely go.
JT: How important is it to find a Middle Linebacker?
McZ: “We need to some depth. We lost two early in the season and going into the season last year and then we got two that are free agents, two veteran guys that are free agents. So, we’re low on numbers just right off the bat, so we gonna have to bring some guys in here, whether it’s free agency, draft, post draft, whatever. But that’s a hole that we have to fill.”
My Take: The first sentence of this almost made me laugh. Depth? First of all, the Raiders only lost one middle linebacker early in the season – Ben Heeney. And he had lost his starting job before being lost to injury. Not sure if the other linebacker he’s referring to Neiron Ball or what, but he’s not a middle linebacker. It also sounds like he is expecting to let Malcolm Smith and Perry Riley Jr walk as free agents. By the end of his answer, he gets to the heart of it; Middle linebacker is most definitely a hole that they have to fill.