ALAMEDA – The Raiders have already extended three players entering the final year of their contract. General manager Reggie McKenzie said Monday in a roundtable with Bay Area reporters that the Raiders would like to lock down a few more.
McKenzie said the Raiders have reached out to defensive end Lamarr Houston and left tackle Jared Veldheer about extending to their rookie contracts.
In addition to running back Darren McFadden, those are the only remaining Raiders left in a contract year.
McKenzie said the Raiders have been talking to Houston’s agent “for a while now.” The Raiders have also been in touch with Veldheer’s representative, but the left tackle’s triceps injury remains a roadblock to getting a deal done. Establishing an appropriate value is difficult until a player comes back healthy and performs.
“There will still be talks, yep,” McKenzie said. “But I know he wants to play. He’s a competitive guy now, so we still have time, but make no bones about it, we want to sign as many of our good players as we can. With the cap is the way it is this year, we won’t have a chance to do a whole lot with big money guys like those two guys. It’d be highly unlikely we could do two, but at least we’re in a situation next year to retain some of our high-dollar guys.”
The Raiders are in salary cap trouble until 2014, when they’ll have significant money to spend. That’s when they’ll be able to shore of their roster through free agency, but don’t expect them to go on a spending spree next league year just because. McKenzie said the team still plans on building through the draft, and rewarding his own players.
That sentiment extends beyond those drafted by this team. One of many goals this season is to identify diamonds in the rough, players who can shore up positions for an extended period. McKenzie is working to evaluate and identify those players and then to ensure they’re under the appropriate contract before free agency starts picking at the roster.
“We’re working diligently to keep our own,” McKenzie said. “We consider even those here on one-year contracts, we consider them our own. The guys whether it’s one year deals, even if they had a couple of years. If we can lock some guys up that’s going to be key for us. That’s how I want to build this thing. I don’t want guys to go to the end of their contracts and then you’re scrambling trying to keep them.”
McKenzie said the draft would still be the Raiders’ feeder system, but that it getting out of salary-cap troubles would allow them to be competitive free agency.
“Next year, from an offseason standpoint, we’re going to be in line like the other teams,” McKenzie said. “What I’m saying there is the cap won’t be an issue. I won’t be way out here while everybody else is able to play the free-agency game. But that’s 2014. This year, we were able to get some pieces that we feel can help us. Hopefully, we can build on that every week and turn some of these games into some victories.”