By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, March 22nd, 2012 at 4:13 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Got about 12 minutes with Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie at the Stanford Pro Day Thursday to get caught up on recent developments. Here’s a transcription:
Q: Has the offseason gone pretty much the way you expected?
McKenzie: A little bit better, because we were able to knock out a couple of areas we felt we wanted to upgrade, and fill in or solidfy, and we felt like the O-line as a group we solidified it big time by getting the two veterans back (Cooper Carlisle, Khalif Barnes) and the coaching staff would like to see Wiz move inside, see what he can do. They feel pretty good about that.
Q: That’s the plan, Stefen Wisniewski will be a center now?
McKenzie: Yeah, they want him to work him there, knowing he can play guard, but that won’t go away from us not being able to upgrade, if we get another center, like, `we can’t pass on this center,’ then Wiz got to play guard. But going into the offseason, the coaching staff wants to see Carlisle and Brisiel at guards.
Q: Which guy is the left guard in that scenario?
McKenzie: It seems like they want to put Cooper over there.
Q: He’s been exclusively a right guard . . .is that a big deal?
McKenzie: No, no. Coop didn’t think so. Coop feels like he can do it. We’ll let him work this whole offseason and play in preseason, and get it down, and adding Brisiel helps. Khalif signed on today officially, so that kind of helps solidify, now we just need to add some depth, Getting the corners in helps, getting two guys we like and with our cap situation, we were able to kind of solidify that position a little bit.
Q: Does Jason Tarver have good things to say about Spencer, they were together in San Francisco . . .
McKenzie: Yeah, he has good things, Johnnie Lynn, coached him, he knows him, has coached him, so that was just icing on the cake to me. Getting a guy like that, coming available, too, because he wasn’t a free agent at first, and then he was. Things like that pop up and you’ve got to be ready if you want to add ‘em. We were able to add two corners, and some O-line, that’s a positive.
Q: Players that you’ve lost, any surprises there? Or guys you expected to lose? Any surprises in terms of who’s not on the team . .
McKenzie: No. No. It’s surprising to me that Michael Bush is still out there . . .
Q: Signed with the Bears today . .
McKenzie: OK, I didn’t know it was official yet. I thought the signings of Tolbert and BenJarvus Green-Ellis would hurry that process.
Q: How tough was the Wimbley move . . hoped to find a way to keep him?
McKenzie: I really wanted to keep him. But it would have cost us. I wouldn’t have been able to sign any of the players I’ve signed or wanted. Would have had to make some adjustments. That was just unfortunate it couldn’t work itself out. He wanted what he wanted and we needed what we needed and it couldn’t work out. But we would have liked to have had him, but the way the contract was at the time, we just couldn’t make it work.
Q: Was Bush another guy who wasn’t economically feasible?
McKenzie: It really wasn’t. Initially my thought process was he was going to be gone that first week. But that didn’t happen, but still, I don’t know what the numbers were, but it would have been tough for us.
Q: $14 million for four years, $7 guaranteed . .
McKenzie: We couldn’t do that. That’s more than what we could do. That’s the way it goes. This year, that’s what we’re up against. But we knew that.
Q: Is running back a position you feel good about being able to find someone, either through draft, a released player, drafted free agent . . .
McKenzie: Absolutely. I’m OK with being able find a guy. Some guys get released that can step in and play. A lot of those situations happen.
Q: Pat Lee, the Packers corner, is he on the team?
McKenzie We were putting the final touches right before I left for here. When I get back to the office hopefully it’s officially done. We were just tying up some loose ends in that regard.
Q: Looking to add another quarterback behind Palmer, Pryor . .
McKenzie: Kind of the same as like running back for us, make sure you bring a legitimate guy in.
Q: Highest priority right now? Next position to fill?
McKenzie: One thing I don’t have is a starting outside linebacker. I would like to try to find me a guy that can play there. Other than that, we’ve got a guy that can line up and start at every position. Now we just need some competition and depth in case this guy gets hurt or can’t cut it. That’s where I am now. But I’m looking for an outside linebacker.
Q: Cap situation, have heard you have $4 million in room or so . . .
McKenzie: No. We don’t. I wish.
Q; Half that?
McKenzie: I’m just going to say no, we don’t have that.
Q: Still things to be done to create room . . .long-term deal with Tyvon Branch would lower it . .
McKenzie: Yeah, if we could do a long-term deal. But right now we’re just going to hold fast where we are, and kind of wait on these league meetings, see what kind of compensatory picks we get. We’re gearing up for the draft.
Q: How well do you understand the compensatory formula and where you fit in it?
McKenzie: I don’t want to understand it. You guys study it, tell me what you think we can get.
Q: Heard you can get No. 97 . . .
McKenzie: That’s what I hear. I’m not going to accept that until Goodell signs off on it.
Q: Linebacker, looking at draft to fill spot?
McKenzie: You can get one in the draft, you can find the right guy. Can you target someone at the end of the third round, yeah. But I think there are going to be some guysu in the latter rounds that will be able to be productive players. I’m not at all discouraged because we don’t have a first, second or third rounder. We’ll make due. It’d be nice to have one of those, but I’m not going to worry about it.
Q: Reaction to penalties on the Saints and have you talked to Dennis Allen about it since he was on staff there?
McKenzie: He said that, he just felt bad for everybody involved. It was like a bad situation for the league. Goodell made the statement, but my comment is I’m on board with Roger Goodell and the decisions he makes, because he’s preached integrity of the league from Day 1. I’m on board with any decision that he makes in that regard. I’m supportive. It’s tough. I know players, they’re going to really around it, but when you lose your head coach it’s not easy.
Q: What do you think about having Peyton Manning in the decision.
McKenzie: That will be fun. I’m a Peyton Manning fan. I was on the Tennessee staff when he was recruited. Was recruiting his whole family out there. He’s good for the league. I’m not going to be scared of him. But I know he’s definitely a positive for them.
Q: How about Denver at Oakland Sunday night or Monday night to open the season?
McKenzie: Sounds good to me. Let’s go do it.