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Raiders checking out QBs at combine

Filed for print . . .

General manager Reggie McKenzie finally has a level playing field, but having more than $60 million available under the salary cap and a full complement of draft picks won’t get the Raiders turned around unless he finds a quarterback.

Former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was under NFL scouting combine spotlight Friday at Lucas Oil Field. Manziel, along with Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville and Blake Bortles of Central Florida, are considered the three quarterbacks who could be worthy of the Raiders’ No. 5 pick in the first round.

The Raiders need many things besides a quarterback, and plan to adhere to their philosophy of serious-minded players who put the team first while evaluating more than 330 players this weekend.

Yet it’s clear if if McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen can’t find a solution to the most important position on the field, the jobs of both men could be on the line. Owner Mark Davis is watching closely, attending his first combine since taking over for his late father.

Manziel hit all the right notes in a jam-packed media session, promising to take the NFL seriously and hinting his hard-partying college days are behind him.

One problem _ he measured in at 5-foot-11 ¾, and only to quarterbacks 6-1 or under (Rex Grossman and Michael Vick) have been drafted in the first round since 1970.

“I play with a lot of heart, play with a lot of passion,’’ Manziel said. “I feel like I play like I’m 10 feet tall. A measurement to me is just a number.’’

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock ranks Bridgewater (6-foot-2 ¼, 214 pounds) as the most ready to play immediately. Bortles, at 6-foot-5 and 232 pounds, has the prototype height and size and enough mobility to get out of trouble.

Allen, a Texas A&M alum, was complimentary about Manziel but stressed the Raiders had only just begun to dig into the backrounds of potential darft picks.

“He’s able to throw the ball from the pocket and can create things with his feet,’’ Allen said in his media session. “As we get more into the evaluation process, he’ll be a fun to to evaluate.’’

While Mayock said film shows Manziel as a quarterback who becomes less comfortable when kept in the pocket, Manziel said, “I’m looking forward to showing up all the people who say I’m just an improviser. I’ve worked hard at improving my all-around game.’’

In going 8-24 over the past two seasons, the Raiders have gone through Carson Palmer, Terrelle Pryor, Matt Flynn and Matt McGloin as starters. Only Pryor and McGloin remain, and McKenzie and Allen are in agreement it’s possible neither is the club’s quarterback of the future.

Whether the Raiders have the right men in the building to identify the next quarterback is a fair question. Both McKenzie and Allen have backgrounds on defense, and the club whiffed on both Flynn by trade and in drafting the departed Tyler Wilson in the fourth round last season.

In a postseason meeting with the local media, McKenzie answered in the affirmative when asked if he was confident the organization could develop a quarterback. One NFL scout said the Raiders’ supporting cast is so suspect he’s not sure any quarterback could have flourished in Oakland last season.

Other notes and issues facing the Raiders as they go about their businesss in Indianapolis.

– When the draft convenes May 8-10, there is plenty of talent to choose from. Mayock called it the deepest draft he’s seen in 10 years.

– The Raiders have 17 unrestricted free agents on their roster, with whom they can negotiate exclusively until free agency begins March 11. They are are reportedly more than $60 million under the projected salary cap.

Left tackle Jared Veldheer ($11.1 million for one year) and defensive right end Lamarr Houston ($12.5 million) are candidates to get the franchise tag, although McKenzie would prefer to work out long-term deals.

Other players the Raiders are interested in bringing back are running back Rashad Jennings and free safety Charles Woodson, who Allen said “still has something left in the tank.’’’

– The Raiders, according to McKenzie, will seek a veteran quarterback in free agency even if they draft one. The pickings are slim, however, with notable names being Philadelphia’s Michael Vick and Minnesota’s Josh Freeman, who had his best season in Tampa Bay working with Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • irjonny

    if that’s the case i might just watch a little more baseball next year

  • accupolco gold aka elmo

    Raiderios futbal has mucho long march to go. Generalissimo McKenzie estada la mess en el pistito grandios locomotiva rubblesse. Many how yu say mucho heartbreakeros to go justalo bring serenitia y joy. No easila fixitati en visionisita.

  • 0ak R8rs

    They both had some good fortune. Good drafts, which we haven’t had. Shtty conferences, which we don’t have. Football is a lot more complex now than it was 20 years ago. That being said, our defense did come together remarkably well early last year, a credit to DA and Tarver. Before it fell apart from injuries an lack of depth after the bye.

  • J Hill

    Bergstrom, Burris, Criner, Crawford need to all play THIS year and that 2012 class won’t be so bad.

  • disqus_yeZNegncsV

    Forget RM or DA. Call for Mark to sell the team or to let someone else run it.
    Why does Mark (the Davis family in not being good stewards of an NFL team) not receive criticism.
    Mark had to have a guy who’s been out of football for decades, Madden, give him counsel about whom to hire as a GM?

  • accupolco gold aka elmo

    Beeesebull verry verry gooode to me.

  • Dakota

    According to the CBA’s Article 12, Section 9:

    A) For each of the following four-League Year periods, 201 3-201 6 and 2017-2020, there shall be a guaranteed Minimum Team Cash Spending of 89% of theSalary Caps for such periods (e.g., if the Salary Caps for the 2013-1 6 and 2017-2020 are$100, 120, 1 30, and 1 50 million, respectively, each Club shall have a Minimum Team Cash Spending for that period of $445 million (89% of $500 million)).

    If a team fails to meet that standard, the CBA continues:

    B) Any shortfall in the Minimum Team Cash Spending at the end of a League Year in which it is applicable (i.e., the 2016 and 2020 League Years) shall be paid,on or before the next September 15, by the Team having such shortfall, directly to the players who were on such a Team’s roster at any time during the applicable seasons, pursuant to the reasonable allocation instructions of the NFLPA.

    The NFL is expected to set the 2013 Salary Cap at $121 million, which will be the first year of the first four year period.

    +++++++++++++++

    Our actual cash spent in 2013 was very low. We have a ton to make up for over the next 3 seasons to meet the 89% mark of actual cash spent or Mark will be writing a check to former players…..would it not make more sense to pay that money to new free agents in 2014 and beyond?

    We are spending money this year…..get over it.

  • Raider 8

    true. i’m all for giving credit where credit is due.

    we’ve all been jaded.

    it really is time though.

    if not now..when?

  • 0ak R8rs

    Ill be very surprised if we have any big splashes week one of FA. I would like to see a trade. I’ve said it before, Andre Johnson could be had for a 4th or 5th and we r in a position to eat his contract. He’s not happy in Houston. And next years rookie QB, whoever that might be, won’t make him any happier. Of course, our QB situation isn’t any better. But I think he needs a change of scenery.

  • Dakota

    si.. weo ino troubleo

  • Dakota

    Criner and Crawford? Are they even real? Never spotted them on the field other than in preseason.

  • 0ak R8rs

    If Reggie and DA aren’t the guys, then that’s on Mark. Outside of that, it seems he’s been completely hands off. What else would you blame him for? Besides the Palmer trade that is.

  • Raider 8

    ok…if that’s the case then we have the wrong gm. part of reggies job is to “sell” the program here.

    if he cannot do that, then…

  • 0ak R8rs

    I’m looking for some wins next year. Looking to surprise some teams, like we did to Pittsburgh last year. I’d like to be .500 in the division too, 2-4 at the worst. But there will be no playoffs next year. Hopefully 2015. We still don’t have a QB.

  • 0ak R8rs

    That’s a lot of “ifs” since none of them basically played last year. They don’t produce this year? They r busts. 3 years and out.

  • 0ak R8rs

    We might. This is a big year for him too obviously. On many fronts.

  • 0ak R8rs

    We r gonna make a trade or two and take on some big contracts. I think that’s a more reasonable approach than to overpay guys that were never worth it in the first place.

  • Dakota

    What? What are we going to trade for guys who have big contracts? That makes zero sense. We are trading what assets? Our draft picks for some big contract guys?
    Not happening. Sorry.

  • marks hair

    Thanks for the trade W’s..

  • 0ak R8rs

    It makes all the sense in the world. We have to spend money. You give up almost no equity for guys like Andre Johnson. Remember Palmer to Arizona? What did we get for that? Almost nothing, because AZ ate the contract. I’d rather pay a guy like Johnson who’s earned the big contract, than overpay it to a guy like Bennet just because he’s had one decent year.

  • marks hair

    Spanish is all backwards like Yoda talk..
    suck the Raiders do..
    Like that..

  • Dakota

    So you think the Texas will take Criner in trade for Johnson? WE HAVE NO ASSETS TO OFFER IN TRADE. Reggie is not going to trade our draft picks for guys like that.
    Sorry, but this line of thinking is WAY off imo.

  • marks hair

    We have almost no trade assets. And good players aren’t often available.. its normally just jags like palmer

  • Dakota

    A decent breakdown:

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1953031-oakland-raiders-spending-dilemma-could-define-reggie-mckenzie-era

    The Situation

    According to former agent Joel Corry of CBSSports.com, the Raiders had a league-low payroll of $93.1 million last season, which was just 75.7 percent of the salary cap. That means the Raiders will need to make up $16.4 million in spending over the next three seasons.

    That might seem easy, but the Raiders also have to get to a combined 89 percent of the salary cap in 2014, 2015 and 2016. In 2014, 89 percent of the projected $126.3 million salary cap is $109.5 million, with the Raiders currently having just $47.2 million in cash-spending liabilities, according to OvertheCap.com.

    Just to increase cash spending to 89 percent in 2014, McKenzie would have to dole out more than $60 million in bonus money and base salaries to players not currently on the roster. That’s not equal to cap dollars, which will be less because signing bonuses are prorated for a maximum of five years of the contract.

  • Blackholepriest

    Unbelievable exhibition by the top three OTs, these guys are test tube prototypes. Robinson, Matthews and Lewan just take your pick and you have a 10 year fixture at LT.

  • 0ak R8rs

    You will see. We will trade some low picks for a big contract or two. Then trade down and reacquire those picks on draft day. It’s gonna happen. It’s the smart thing to do. Not talking about players, nobody wants any of our players. Talking about 5-7 round picks. Guys w big contracts aren’t worth much in trade. Again, you give up almost nothing for them. Incoming team is responsible for the contract and cap hit. It’s a great way for teams to unload guys that aren’t happy, like we did w Palmer last year. And it’s a great way for is to spend some of our riches on proven talent that’s shown they still wanna play after getting the big contract, rather than handing a guy his first big payday and hoping he still continues to bother to produce. Makes all the sense in the world.

  • Dakota

    Agreed…..too bad we took a tackle in round 2 last year. I doubt Reggie takes one at #5.
    If we lose Veldheer, then yeah, I would love one of those guys….but I would also be depressed that we would be spinning our wheels again by creating a hole at LT and then having to use a pick to fill it.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Low picks. That’s all it takes for big contracts. Nobody wants any of our players. It won’t be players.

  • Dakota

    Only if Reggie can find another Reggie to fool into trade like that.

  • marks hair

    Low picks will get us johnson? Lol
    Not so much.. low picks will get us flynn or cp3..

  • 0ak R8rs

    Not true. Happens all the time. You don’t get it I guess. Not trying to be glib or mean. Just saying. The Palmer trade made all the sense in the world for both teams. Yea, we took the short end both times, but the trade to AZ was way better than the trade from Cincy. Plenty of teams looking to unload big contracts and/or unhappy guys. There’s talent to be had for low picks. Just gotta take he cotract hit. Which we r in a great position to do. What a lot of people don’t understand, is that Reggie pulled of a great move getting anything for Palmer. AZ was on the short end of that deal. Problem is, Reggie fcked up the gain from getting rid of oalmer by acquiring Flynn. But that’s a different discussion entirely.

  • Blackholepriest

    Why? What the hell do they know about football?

  • Raider 8

    i don’t understand that completely. does that mean he MUST sign some big contracts this offseason?

  • Dakota

    Glib or mean? Yeah okay….we’ll see.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Johnson had a huge contract. He’s unhappy. He can be had for very little equity. He’s worth almost nothing in trade equity w that contract. Just like Palmer was last year. Can be had cheap. Maybe not as cheap as Palmer. Maybe a 5th. Or a 4th and 6th or something like that. I don’t know the exact formula. But it’s the smart way for us to go. Take a proven guy that’s proved he can play w a big cotract. Instead of giving some 4 year guy his big payday and hoping he does only stop bothering to pay after his big payday. Happens a lot you know? Say what you want about Palmer, I certainly have, but he’s shown he is still willing to play an stick his nose in there. He’s not all about the money. Neither is Andre Johnson. And that’s just one example.

  • marks hair

    nobody watching 40s today?

  • 0ak R8rs

    Saying “you don’t get it” I meant. Anyway, it’s gonna happen. If Reggie can find some sellers. I think Houston for Johnson is one of them. St. Louis for Jake Long might be another one. They r out there. It’s gonna happen.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Yea?

  • Papertiger

    I’m drinking 40s today, that’s for sure!

  • Dakota

    It means at the end of the 4 year period we have to have spent actual cash that comes to 89% of the salary cap total for those 4 years.

    We do not have to spend 89% this season, but if we do not then we have to spend even more money in 2015 and 2016 to make up for it. If we fail to make that level, then at the end of the 4 year period Mark has to write a check to players that were on the roster during that 4 year period to make up the difference.

  • Dakota

    No it wont.

  • marks hair

    Eric ebron looks like a big fast scary te..

  • 0ak R8rs

    Yea. It will. It’s the smart thing to do.

  • marks hair

    Ok, that andre Johnson trade is just too crazy to pick apart..
    NFL contracts are not guaranteed.. so when a player is not earning his money most teams will not trade for him. they will just wait until he is cut.. like wr Austin this yr..
    I can’t think of many trades were a good player who can actually earn his pay was traded for late picks..

  • Dakota

    I’ll take my chances on signing some young free agents over hoping that several teams decide to trade us good players for late round picks….call me crazy.

  • marks hair

    Those trades don’t really exist..

  • irjonny

    Someone brought up the point of having to spend 89% of our $ every year. we are already having to overspend just to make up for last year. i think we have to spend 94% or something like that. we can only have 53 on the roster so we have to pay a lot of top tier players this offseason

  • Blackholepriest

    Not a bad thing if the kid pans out but this just means there are alternatives @5 that are legitimate.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Nobody said he’s not producing? Gonna wait till 2017 to pick him up? Cause that’s when his contract expires. He’s worth a $15 million dollar cap hit, give or take, for each of the next 3 years. They aren’t cutting him. They will trade him. Only saving grace for Houston is they cleaned house so Johnson might be willing to stick it out and see. But there’s jake Long and others in the same situation.

  • irjonny

    TEX- Clowney
    STL- Trade (ATL- Robinson)
    JAX- Bridgewater
    CLE- Manziel
    OAK- ???? (if we stay put)

    —–I say its got to be Mack