By Steve Corkran
Tuesday, February 12th, 2013 at 1:02 pm in Oakland Raiders.
General manager Reggie McKenzie inherited a Raiders roster, he said, with “out-of-whack” contracts last season. As a result, he made a series of drastic moves designed to bring the situation under control.
Of note, he waived No. 1 cornerback Stanford Routt and linebacker Kamerion Wimbley soon after he was hired. Several other moves, including restructuring numerous contracts, helped the Raiders free up enough salary-cap space so that the Raiders could sign a handful of new players.
However, the one move McKenzie didn’t make is coming home to roost. McKenzie opted to keep aging defensive tackle Richard Seymour for one more season. As it turned out, Seymour played only eight games and didn’t have anywhere near the desired impact.
His biggest impact is going to be on this year’s salary cap, with Seymour counting for almost $14 million in so-called “dead money.” Put another way, almost one-eighth of their $121 million salary cap in 2013 is going to come from Seymour’s voided contract.
The Raiders would have been better off absorbing the blow of severing ties with Seymour last season, when it was apparent that they needed to deal with the contracts McKenzie considered out of whack.
As it stands, the Raiders are right up against the projected cap for 2013, with room needed in the coming days to re-sign some of their prospective free agents, other teams’ free agents and their 2013 draft picks.
Fortunately for McKenzie and the Raiders, there are a few viable options to get to where they need to be.
The obvious targets cutting or restructuring the contracts of wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly. Cutting these two veterans would free up $10 million in cap space.
They could net more than $9 million more by cutting quarterback Carson Palmer, a risky move, and turning over the keys to the offense to third-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor or a veteran signed in free agency.
The more likely scenario involves restrructuring Palmer’s contract, as they did last offseason, so that it’s more cap friendly in 2013. The Raiders simply can’t afford to have Seymour and Palmer eat up approximately one-fourth of their cap space in 2013.
Beyond that, there’s not much else McKenzie can do this season, except to cut other veterans that free up a million here and a million there.
On the bright side, McKenzie is making strides toward getting the salary cap more in the Raiders favor. He can keep it that way by avoiding contracts such as the one given Seymour and made worse by keeping him around too long.