INDIANAPOLIS – The Raiders have started a new set of veteran cornerbacks in each season of general manager Reggie McKenzie’s three-year tenure.
They plan to buck that trend in 2015.
McKenzie said Wednesday that veteran corners Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers will be allowed to hit the open free agent market after their one-year contracts formally expire in March.
He plans to go with a youth movement next season, with DJ Hayden, TJ Carrie and Keith McGill leading the way. Hayden is the group’s elder statesman despite two years experience.
McKenzie is confident that the new kids can handle increased responsibility without veteran handholding.
“We like what our young corners have done,” McKenzie said during a sit-down with Raiders beat writers at the NFL scouting combine. “Veterans like (Brown and Rogers) are on the team to help bring those young guys along. I think they did that. Carlos was a veteran they leaned on. Tarell did a good job with those guys. I think it’s their turn.”
That’s proof positive that McKenzie’s plan is starting to work. He signed veterans to short-term deals with the belief that the Raiders would build through the draft and ultimately promote from within. That’s starting to happen at cornerback.
That doesn’t mean McKenzie will stand pat at that position.
“I think the young guys are ready,” McKenzie said. “I don’t think you can expect to go through a whole season with those three. We’re going to need one or two more. My point is this: I don’t think you need that cagy, savvy veteran to help bring young guys along. They’re at a point now where they understand how to approach the game. I need guys that can play. If I get someone who can be a great starter or a great backup, I’m going to help solidify that position group. The goal is to upgrade at every spot.”
-- McKenzie plans to speak with strong safety Tyvon Branch’s agent about the strong safety’s future with the club. Branch missed most of the last two seasons with injury and carries a hefty $9.657 million salary cap hit.
-- The Raiders will reach out to running back Darren McFadden’s agent to discuss the impending free agent’s future. It is believe that the Raiders will look elsewhere for running back help, but McKenzie would not rule out a McFadden return.
-- As previously reported, the Raiders have struggled to reach an agreement with center Stefen Wisniewski despite attempts to reach a contract extension since the summer. The sides have differing opinions on Wisniewski’s monetary value, which should prompt Wisniewski to test the open market. It does no eliminate the possibility that Wisniewski could return at the Raiders price.