For years, Raiders fans have been dreading the moment that Reggie McKenzie would enter into the mind numbing “Green Bay mode”. It’s not that it’s a bad plan, just boring (as a McKenzie interview) watching other teams make moves while ours is sitting on it’s hands, waiting for the draft.
For those who don’t follow the league outside the Raiders, Green Bay is well known for sitting out free agency, yet rarely letting their own players hit the market.
It might appear that McKenzie is sitting this one out, but there’s something missing from the Packers plan, our players ARE hitting the market – and leaving.
It's Official: #Redskins sign defensive tackle Stacy McGee.
Welcome to D.C., @BigBuckMcGee92!
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) March 10, 2017
— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) March 9, 2017
The #49ers added to the defensive side of the ball today as well.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) March 10, 2017
— NFL (@NFL) March 10, 2017
Welcome to Denver, @MenelikWatson!
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) March 10, 2017
Not only are they leaving, they’re getting paid big money.
Trawick becomes the highest paid special teams player in the league while Hayden, Smith, McGee and Watson all fetched north of 5 million per season each. 5 million per season, let that sink in and then realize I double checked that to make sure it was right. Malcolm Smith a 5 million dollar player? Menelik Watson had less starts in 2016 than the number in front of the six zero’s Denver will pay him this season. This is pandemonium, it’s chaos, and for Reggie McKenzie, it’s beautiful.
Enter Compensatory picks
The loophole in the CBA which rewards teams for not paying their own players might just be the free agent prize the Raiders are eyeing. It does not mean the Raiders can’t sign players, but outright free agents would cut into the draft bounty McKenzie might be most interested in. I do expect some discounted players will be signed, but I don’t expect us to exceed (or come close to) the outgoing money, which means we would end up on the positive side of the comp pick formula.
The other exploit is through targeting players released from other teams. I’m not quite nerdy enough to know the entire breakdown of how it works, but I do know that players cut from other teams do not count towards the formula that determines compensatory picks.
The McKenzie way?
Might Reggie McKenzie be biding his time in order to swoop in and sign some discarded vets on one year prove it deals? By offering players a new chance to hit free agency next year, it becomes a win-win for both sides. Reggie finds some stopgaps to plug holes in the short term, while players get another roll of the dice if they can prove themselves in silver and black. If the player proves it, he gets paid, and the team gets paid – in more comp picks. Rinse, repeat, and Reggie retains a constant influx of draft resources, his favorite tool to build a roster.
In order for this method to truly work, the team needs to be appealing for these cheap vets with options around the league. Right now, the Raiders are near the top of appealing destinations, so if there was ever a time to install the McKenzie way, it would be now.
As I write this, Nate Allen is about to sign with Miami, Latavius Murray is visiting Seattle, and more panic is destined to befall Raider Nation. Stay calm, keep focused on the prize, with each free agent signed elsewhere, Reggie ultimately gets paid. It’s all part of the plan.