ALAMEDA – Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie addressed a number of topics during Thursday’s sit-down discussion with local press, which marked his first public comments since the disappointing 2013 season ended. He talked about how we plans to spend over $60 million in cap space, how head coach Dennis Allen can improve and how he plans to restock a roster low on talent.
There are plenty of stories to come, but here are some highlights from a 45-minute roundtable at team headquarters:
Q: What is your biggest need heading into the offseason?
A: We have needs, with an "s". We're going to attack it in every way, I don't care if it's off a waiver wire, if somebody gets cut, if it's an unrestricted guy, trade, draft, we're going to do whatever we can to upgrade this team anyway. Of course it's a two way street in some of those instances, but we're going to upgrade this team personnel wise.
Q: Will your philosophy towards free agency change with so much to spend and so many needs? Might you be a bit more aggressive?
A: We will. We’re going to do things that make sense. Just because I have $5 in my pocket, that doesn’t mean I have to spend it all of it on junk. I don’t want to do that. We’re going to look at every player out there and decide whether he can help us, whether it’s through free agency or movement through the draft. Overall, though, we’re going to build through the draft.
Q: Mark talked about first two years of deconstruction, now you start the reconstruction. Is there a heightened sense of urgency?
A: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Now you get to make some decisions from a standpoint of offseason, not going through the list of who I have to release to get under the cap or to get where we need to get to bring one or two players in, just for starters. Now we can start building and adding some players, and try to keep guys that we don’t want out. At least we can communicate to agents and get closer to where we need to get to and we can be in the game when another team is negotiating. We’re not in a position where we can’t match. We can’t negotiate because the numbers are nowhere close for us being able to do it. So, yes, it’s a heightened sense of let’s get this thing going. It’s more decisions, more impactful decisions to be made. This is the fun part even though there’s a good sense of urgency, but to me it’s a positive situation.
Q: Was there a talent void on the 2013 roster?
A: We lack some talent in some areas, no question. We don’t have that go-to big hitter Calvin Johnson-type guy at receiver. Every position we’re going to try to upgrade. We’re fully aware of some of the places we’re lacking offensively and defensively.
Q: Dennis Allen said expectations were to be among top 12 teams that make it to playoffs, do you have same expectations?
A: Yes. Whether it’s good or not, that’s my expectations. I want to be top 12 and get to the playoffs, then it’s a different season. Whether it’s the sixth seed or the No. 1 seed. I’ve been both, we won the Super Bowl in Green Bay as a six seed. If we can get in, now it’s all about the Super Bowl and trying to get there. The expectation is winning and getting into the playoffs to have that opportunity to play in the Super Bowl.
Q: There was a lot of speculation about whether Dennis Allen might lose his job. Was that ever an issue with you?
A: It was not an issue with me. I understand how things kind of go in different directions when it gets toward the end of the season throughout the league when people are predicting who’s going to be in and who’s going to be out. I understood all that. I wasn’t going to play into that. I wasn’t going to add fuel to just to put out a fire that wasn’t there. It wasn’t comedy. I hate that stuff has to get thrown around, what if, and you know.