With news of Joe Haden being cut by the Cleveland Browns, many fans expect Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie to bring out the check book. Not so fast Raider Nation. The Raiders have roughly $13 million left in cap space according to Over the Cap. If this last off-season is any indication, then expect to see McKenzie guarding the vault like a dragon does his gold.
Reggie McKenzie is Playing His Cards Close to His Vest
There is a couple of reasons McKenzie will be protecting the checkbook. First, Donald Penn ended his holdout last week with the expectation of getting new money. According to multiple reports, McKenzie will, act in good faith, and get something done in the near future. That will probably leave the Raiders with roughly $10 million in the salary cap, depending on the levels of incentives and guarantees.
Secondly, the Raiders still have concerns at inside linebacker. There is no doubt that McKenzie will be monitoring the waiver wire like a veteran stock broker does a ticket tape. He will be looking for a good, inexpensive scheme fit. Possibly a veteran, like Perry Riley, or even Riley himself. A diamond in the rough, that is mistakenly being cut by another team.
Recall, the Kansas City Chiefs just cut Josh Mauga earlier this week. Similar teams will be cutting veteran players who are still capable of playing, but fall due to salary cap reasons or opportunistic rookies being better options.
With only $10 million to work with though, and Khalil Mack‘s contract looming next year, it does not give a lot of financial options for McKenzie in the short term. In fact, it is quite possible that McKenzie chooses to stand still. He certainly could save that money for next year, or for an emergency injury this year.
Reggie McKenzie will be burning the midnight oil
McKenzie will still be putting in as much work over the next week as he did during the week of the draft though. Every NFL team must cut down from 90 players to 53, by September second. Even players that team’s hope to place on their practice squad must first past through waivers. Hence, 1,184 players not currently on the Raiders roster will pass through waivers and go through the scrutiny of general managers across the NFL.
Then there is still the possibility that Reggie wheels and deals, and pulls of a trade or two. Just this week there has been three trades with several more coming.
Bringing back the factor of veterans getting cut and finding their way onto new teams, what about cornerback Joe Haden?
The Browns are on the hook for $3.2 million of Haden’s remaining contract. He was set to make $11.2 million this year, and will be seeking a $10 million contract. While Haden is a fit for the Raiders, there seems to be other teams lining up to bid on his services. That could make Haden’s price tag become too hefty for Mackenzie and the Raiders limited cap space. Do not expect Mackenzie to sell the farm on a player that has been injured as much as Haden has for the last two seasons.
Remember, Mackenzie is playing his cards very close to his vest.