694

GM Reggie McKenzie on free agency

Caught up with Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie following San Jose State’s pro day Thursday. Topics included the Raiders progress in free agency, his thoughts on the Rodger Saffold deal falling through, the departures of Jared Veldheer and Lamar Houston and the future of the quarterback position in Oakland. A transcription of McKenzie’s first interview since the start of free agency:

Q: You’ve concentrated your efforts on picking up a lot of players between 29 and 31 years old who have experience playing in big games. How would you assess how free agency has gone so far?

McKenzie: You can’t assess it until the end of the season, to be honest with you and what we’re trying to do is add some veteran leadership. Guys who have some production, and just make sure we upgrade this team. And that’s the bottom line, trying to upgrade the team through production and the leadership. We’ve got some young guys on this team and we want to try and get that good mix, try to build. Hopefully building up front will help.

Q: Do you feel you have a good head start on that process?

McKenzie: We definitely got a head start. Instead of waiting until the draft, or later in this offseason, if you have an opportunity to get a guy, try to go after him and then you’re hopeful that you can land some of these guys. Sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you can.

Q: How much of a setback was losing the Saffold deal and letting Veldheer get away? The outside perception is that t his was a big blunder for the Raiders . . .

McKenzie: No, no. That stuff happens. I’ve been in situations before where guys fail physicals. That’s the way it is. Now, we would have loved to have kept all of our guys that we lost, but it’s their decision whether to go or to stay and it was unfortunate that their decision was to leave. You have to respect that.

Q: There were reports that it was Mark Davis that pulled out of the Saffold deal . . .

McKenzie: Our medical people make that call and we go by what our medical people say. We made that decision based on that.

Q: Another term associated with that deal was `buyer’s remorse,’ that the you thought better of bringing in Saffold at that price . . .

McKenzie: Oh, no. Noooo. There’s a good reason why I really don’t spend a whole lot of time _ no disrespect _ reading a whole lot (about the Raiders). I get fed a whole lot of information about what’s going on. But I do know that we listen to our medical people and a risk is a risk, and that’s the bottom line. That’s what we go with and that’s what we go with, we make our decision that way.

Q: Andrew Brandt of ESPN, who you worked with in Green Bay, said having a player failing a physical in one place and passing it in another is really not all that unusual . . .

McKenzie: It happens all the time. We pass guys that other teams fail. It just depends on the nature of it and if their medical people see something different. Sometimes we may pass one of our own because we know all the stuff that he went through versus another team may not pass our guy. That will always happen. Always.

Q: But you had it within your grasp to keep Veldheer or Houston if you wanted to and you didn’t use the franchise tag . . .

McKenzie: No, that was not an issue there. You talk about, you can try and place a value on the franchise tag, I want to keep these guys for more than one year. I didn’t want to rent ‘em for a year. That’s not the way we do it. The key is if the players want to be here. If they don’t want to be here, we have to move on.

Q: You’ve addressed this before, but there’s the perception that Veldheer and Houston weren’t `Reggie’s guys,’ that they weren’t drafted by you . . .

McKenzie: Oh, no. That has zero to do with it. I’d love to have those guys. I don’t care who drafts them, it really doesn’t matter expect. All that matters is their production on the field, that determines whether they come or go. And those two guys, they were good, solid players for us. That’s why we wanted them to stay. But they got their opportunity and they took it.

Q: At the end of the season, you sounded a little pessimistic about McFadden returning, saying he was going to test the market _ which I guess he did _ were you pleasantly surprised he would come back?

McKenzie: We had no clue how the other teams thought. Was he going to get a long-term contract? Did he even want a long-term contract? If they were going to go after him, how were they going to go about it? What kind of contract were they going to give him? I think we were very competitive that way and it helps that he wanted to be here. That’s why he’s here.

Q: Do you think you know at this moment who your quarterback will be in 2014?

McKenzie: Do I have an idea? I have a really good idea. Do you want me to tell you?

Q: Of course . . . but you have to have to have options, because it’s got to be someone who wants to be here or can be here . . .

McKenzie: The bottom line still is the guy’s got to come I and compete, show the team, his teammates, the staff, that he can do it. There’s always going to be competition. I hope it’s strong competition. But at the end of the day, I have a good idea.

Q: Donald Penn put out on Twitter today he is a Raider _ I don’t know if Raiders have confirmed but assume you will today . . . .

McKenzie: I know as of last night and early this morning, he was going over everything with his agent. When I left it was on its way to being done. I’m sure we’re close to having everything agreed to. Hopefully it’s a done deal. Outside of I haven’t seen the signature yet, that’s the only thing I’m waiting on.

Q: How beneficial to have a guy with that kind of durability and pedigree for a guy like Menelik Watson to learn from?

McKenzie: All these guys. A guy like James Jones, we’ve got a young receiving corps. And James Jones will do wonders for that group. The O-line. We’ve got some young guys. We added some veteran guys and hopefully the right type of guys that are guys can see and learn from. That’s what it’s about. We have Wiz and Khalif, to me we needed more, and hopefully, at all those positions, our young guys can learn from the veterans that we brought in, and the veterans that have been here. They all need to jell together.

Q: That part of it gets tricky . . . the top teams view free agency to fill a couple of holes and build from within. That’s the way I assume you want to do it as well _ but you’re going to rely on a lot of new faces again . . .

McKenzie: I think it helps if you have the right type of guys. I really do. If you have the right type of guys, that type of transition won’t be as difficult as some would think.

Q: Did you hear the San Jose State fan begging you to draft David Fales?

McKenzie: Yeah, I heard that (laughs).

Q: What did you see from him today that you liked?

McKenzie: I thought he had a good day. I the quarterback coach, Terry Shea, put him through just about every possible situation, every possible throw that he would have to make and what he displayed is he can make all the throws. I thought he did a good job showing himself. A lot of scouts were here to see it. It was good for him, good for him.

Q: Is (quarterback coach and former SJSU offensive coordinator) John DeFilippo pushing you to draft him?

McKenzie: He definitely knows the guy very well. We spent time with him at the Senior Bowl and we know him pretty well. But we’ve got good handle on the kid and I just wanted to make sure I got a chance to see him in front of his own, and in his own setting.

Q: Dennis Allen has been in Louisville watching Teddy Bridgewater and in Florida watching Blake Bortles. Is Manziel next up for Allen?

McKenzie: Yeah, Manziel is next and we’ve got Carr tomorrow.

Q: Are you going to Stanford or see Carr?

McKenzie: I’ll probably go see Carr.

  • Share/Bookmark

Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • turf toe

    Ha!

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    Lost cred? The greatest trade ever? You, sir, are delusional.

  • Chino

    Whooo! We got c wood back !

  • http://AdvoCare.com/ Till death do us part

    Welcome back Woodson , for the last time!!! Stay now

  • 0ak R8rs

    Yep. Get Simms back. Another safety. Two more solid corners. And this could be a fun year on defense.

  • AutumnThunderstorm

    Melton already signed with Dallas.

    If not Carrington or Sims there are many quality DTs in the draft.

    Can always hope Donald, Jernigan, or Hageman fall to the 2nd round.

    If not there are many good ones to draft in rounds 3-7th:

    Reid
    Carruthers
    Sutton
    Jones
    many many more

  • SaintKaufman

    Here’s another one that has him in the top 10 of 2012.

    http://www.footballnation.com/content/the-top-10-cornerbacks-the-2012-nfl-season/21353/

  • JV.

    He’d be a good situational pass rusher in different sets. Idk how’d he be as a 4-3 linebacker.

  • AutumnThunderstorm

    Amen

  • 0ak R8rs

    Is he even available? I know he asked for release. But did the patriots give it to him?

  • scooboy

    He played DE in college, he’ll be fine

  • http://AdvoCare.com/ Till death do us part

    No matter who our QB is , were gonna be a lot better

  • TrojansAndRaiders

    Wood, a healthy Branch, Usama Young, Roach, Burnett, Woodley, Antonio Smith, Tuck. Been a while since we had a defense full of FOOTBALL players like this. Have to go back to our SB year. Who else can we add to this squad?

  • DJ Johnny

    as opposed to Michael Sam?

  • AutumnThunderstorm

    Napoleon Kaufman’s word is always good enough for me.

  • SaintKaufman

    Yeah, it was more for reading enjoyment.

  • DanfromVegas

    Did you forget about the turf toe? That hobbled him for a while. Plus it was hard to stomach what Mr. Davis had done to the Raiders organization.

  • http://AdvoCare.com/ Till death do us part

    Allen!!!!

  • scooboy

    Matt Shaub and if Reggie wants to, Desean Jackson even though we don’t need him.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    Woodson? where? who? what? I hope it’s true, and I really hope it was as close to a no brainer as Reggie has had.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Fat Simms. Two more corners and at least one more safety. Rent Jarod Allen for a year of we REALLY wanna make a push. But I could do without him too. So expensive.

  • disqus_yeZNegncsV

    As someone asked, “What the hell kind of POTUS tells people with a wink and a nod to break the law?”

  • SaintKaufman

    Swish!

  • scooboy

    Yes I think the Patriots gave em his release

  • DanfromVegas

    I don’t know, but the case could be made for either. I think if he makes HOF he goes in as a Raider because we showed him respect towards the end of his career.

  • disqus_yeZNegncsV

    Well, from what I gather, he’s been made an offer and wants to test the waters. The offer must not have satisfied him.

  • JV.

    Nope

  • 0ak R8rs

    Huh?

  • DJ Johnny

    he said Woodson is a ‘straight’ football player. I know. Cheap joke but it was right there for me.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Penn came back. So did Woodson and McBroken. Maybe fat Simms will too.

  • _Mista_

    A community organizer muslim born in another country that grew up around marxist and socialist that promised he would transform America. There will be nothing left but shreds by the time he leaves office. Idiots voted for him twice, unbelievable.

  • Chino

    Let me get this straight, reg asked jerry if he’d like for him to tell him who our qb was gonna be, right? Where the hell is the answer?

  • Dakota

    gawd I hope they found that damned plane near Australia. CNN acts like nothing else in the world is happening.

  • JV.

    @VicTafur: Curious to hear if master recruiter Justin Tuck got Charles Woodson down from original request of pay raise from last season. … #Raiders

  • _Mista_

    The Democratic party is selling this Country down the river.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Haha. I noticed that too. I think he left out the “Reggie said w a glimmer in his eye” part.

  • Gdog

    Cwood should be SS. Branch FS… hands down. Otherwise this was just a romantic signing… nice as it is.
    CW himself admitted he isn’t a great FS, kinda…

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    There’s bound to be a better place for you. Where you been looking so far?

  • Chino

    Maybe reg gave in. After all, usamas signing isn’t official yet.

  • Dakota

    Jerry knew the answer would be BS.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    Would that the Republicans had the backing to buy it back.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Oh. Haha. Didn’t even see that. Nice catch. Mean. But nice catch.

  • JV.

    Yea it is they announced it hours ago.

  • scooboy

    Yes it is

  • Chino

    What are the contract numbers?

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    I’m in with the disrespect. As always.

  • Dakota

    Jared Allen is 31. I would imagine that a three year deal for $24 million with $12 guaranteed would get it done. Do it Reggie.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Don’t know his numbers yet. But it was announced w the Penn signing earlier today.

  • SaintKaufman

    This was the best explanation/theory I read about this tragedy.

    http://www.wired.com/autopia/2014/03/mh370-electrical-fire/

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    i’ll have another.