The Raiders don’t have a winning solution to get out of this 15-game losing streak. They’ve scuffled since beating Houston on Nov. 17, 2013 despite their best efforts, leaving plenty to discuss as this disastrous season trudges on.
Our weekly therapy sessions (Tuesday’s online chats) have been temporarily disrupted, so let’s use the ol’ mailbag format to vent some frustrations. I asked for questions on Twitter, and y’all fired away en masse.
I’ll answer a few in an edition of Raiders mailbag.
Question: Of the veterans Oakland brought in this year, who can we get rid of and how much of a cap hit would we take? -- @Pantha30
Answer: Reggie didn’t strike gold with his salary cap riches, which exceeded $64 million at the start of free agency. Save a precious few, the aging veterans brought in have struggled to make an impact. That ain’t good. The positive part: most signees can get cut after the season without a salary cap hit.
[RELATED: McKenzie's free agent mistakes]
Send a thank you note to resident capologist Tom Delaney, who did an excellent job with these contracts.
That includes defensive ends Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley, quarterback Matt Schaub, defensive tackle Antonio Smith and running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
There’s dead money involved in guard Austin Howard’s deal, and that’s about it. The Raiders can cut bait on most of these players without penalty, a smart move by Reggie McKenzie, who was clearly trying to Band-Aid a flesh wound in free agency.
The Raiders need another solid draft and smarter free agent spending. Hindsight is 20/20, but wouldn’t the Raiders prefer a few expensive 26-year old studs coming off their rookie contract than aging vets on the downhill slope if they were going to go 0-9? Of course.
That could be a better option next time around, even if the salary cap is tied up some.
Question: Do you think Reggie McKenzie survives this mess? Do you think his status is tied to the coach they pursue?-- @klasslic
Answer: Excellent two-part question. This is just me talking here (aka not reporting facts): I think McKenzie is tied to the coach Mark Davis pursues. If he gets someone on his A list – Jon Gruden undoubtedly hovers somewhere near the top – that guy will have the right to choose his personnel man.
[BAIR: Can draft picks save McKenzie?]
If some big name guys turn Davis down or aren’t available (see Harbaugh, Jim), Davis could turn to McKenzie for help with a hire.
That said, Davis has not even hinted at McKenzie’s demise. Despite troubling turns in free agency, McKenzie has done well in the draft and could be allowed to take another turn. Most GMs get a second coaching hire. Then again, most GMs aren’t 8-33 in two-and-a-half seasons.
Question: Any talk of a potential QB change? -- @devroyal7
Answer: In short, no. The Raiders are sticking with rookie Derek Carr, which, in my humble opinion, is good for the quarterback and good for the franchise.
Carr has the makeup and moxie to excel in this league, and the ability to learn and focus amid great distraction. The kid could certainly use a win, but his talk about maintaining confidence and poise through mistakes isn’t lip service. Carr has serious mental toughness.
Franchise quarterbacks are hard to find, and it seems like Carr can earn that title. Is he talented? Absolutely. Is he a perfect, ready-made product? Absolutely not.
The Raiders made the right choice to start Carr over Matt Schaub, knowing full well he would make rookie mistakes. Unless he goes too far south, the Raiders will likely stick with him over the next seven games.