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Mark Davis on Raiders head coach/GM relationship: Jon Gruden ‘builds a team he wants to build’, Reggie McKenzie ‘finds the players’

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NFL: Oakland Raiders-Jon Gruden Press Conference Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

When a team makes an NFL record deal with a head coach the likes of the 10-year, $100 million Mark Davis made in Jon Gruden, you have to figure he’s not just making the dinner, but gets to put together the shopping list. Then, it’s Reggie McKenzie’s job to take that list to the market and see what fits in the budget.

That’s basically what Mark Davis said Sunday at the owners meeting.

“Jon’s the head coach and he’s going to be here a while, so it’s important that he gets the players he wants and builds a team he wants to build,” Davis said according to NBC Bay Area. “Reggie McKenzie is there with his staff to find the players and also keep the [salary] cap and everything else in order.

“They have roles to play. At this point in time the role Reggie plays now is a little different than the role he played with Jack [Del Rio], a little different than his role working with Dennis [Allen]. It evolves. He as built the team to where we are now and we’re in pretty good shape with the [salary] cap and everything else. Now he has a head coach who’s going to be running this thing for the next ten years. His vision is going to be most important to building what type of team we’ve got. That vision and that direction is going to be helpful to Reggie. I think they’ll work together very well.”

The different roles with which Davis talks about is clearly involving less and less control over building the roster. With Dennis Allen, Reggie McKenzie had the greatest share of roster building. Allen was a young, first time head coach and McKenzie had worked in personnel with the Packers for a decade. Del Rio had 9 years experience as a head coach in the NFL, and now Gruden has 11 years as a head coach.

On one hand, it was during the time McKenzie had the most roster control that he presided over the successful 2014 draft. On the other hand, each draft since has been severely lacking in quality.

As for free agency, the Raiders have made a lot of moves this offseason, but have not filled a lot of holes. Mostly they’ve plugged holes they created either from letting players leave, releasing them, or trading them. Much of that was Gruden attempting to build the roster with players he sees fit for his system.