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.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • Howard Benner

    LOL. . .sorry.. .

    I know it hurts but it’s worse for me; we both reside in the same city & he’s in my families church!

    I can never escape his evil clutches. . .

    Can I call him skinny MW?

  • Pingback: Q & A: GM Reggie McKenzie on free agency

  • Howard Benner

    So sayeth the pundits. . .

    They can have him!

  • RaidingTexas

    Looks like Luck is well on his way to being there.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    Link? I always wondered what Jamarcus was saying.

  • JLofty

    By all accounts a swell fella! But the pain of Al Davis’ insistence on playing that guy. My stomach is starting to cramp, I better stop….

  • J Hill

    We won’t have to worry about Bortles.

    He will be gone when we pick.

  • Pingback: Reggie on Free Agency

  • CVRaider

    Possibly. I’ve said many times though, McGloin had numbers very similar to Lucks rookie year. And Luck had Wayne to throw to.

  • JLofty

    Nothing much. Probably had better convos with the Llamas…

  • RediaR

    Bathroom break that early in NYC?

  • Howard Benner

    Clarify your comments. This comparison stuff is meaningless unless you break down the nature of the comparison. . .

    Again, I will ask you this; have you even seen a full game Bortles has played? Watch the youTube account of his games against S. Carolina, Louisville & Penn State.

    Oh, & bring a heaping helping of objectivity. . .

  • RaiderCDE

    Sign Vick, McGloin #2, Pick Fales/Murray/Mettenburger with 2nd pick in round 4 (from earlier trade down).

    Draft needs to be heavy on Defense. We need young guys at all positions (sans SAM LB) to train up under these probowlers we brought in. Pick a couple late flyers on quick RB & WR.

  • Howard Benner

    I’ve met him. Played basketball against him. A great guy, full of humility & doesn’t smack of ego or arrogance. . .

    But cringing when the blitz is bearing down on ya. . .still evokes nightmares. . .

  • RaidingTexas

    He was easily the best QB on the team. And yes, he had no legit #1 WR. I haven’t written him off, and I highly doubt Reggie and DA have.

  • RediaR

    Seems like a sure tackler.

  • irjonny

    you lost me at “sign vick”

  • JLofty

    I watched Bortles play against Baylor and he looked pretty d@mn good. Can’t say I’ve ever watched Gabbert play. Wasn’t he hurt against us the few times we played the Crazy Kittens?

  • JLofty

    Vick won’t be signed. We don’t have the type of O creativity to utilize him we ll anyway and the TOs are just dog, er I mean drive KILLERs….

  • DanfromVegas

    Fair enough

  • RediaR

    Yeah, but McGloin would take over sometime during the 2nd game of the season when Vick goes down for the year.

  • irjonny

    mcgloin is a baller and i hope he beats out more vets in camp

  • CVRaider

    I’m not saying his game is just like Gabbert, but his hype is similar. I’ve watched film on him, but to satisfy your argument. I’m through the first quarter of the South Carolina game. He’s 1/4 on passes 10 years or more. Very inaccurate. Completed 4 screens. I’ll keep watching and reply again

  • DanfromVegas

    McGloin showed heaps of potential and his numbers do stack up against some of the current premier NFL QBs rookie seasons

  • RaidingTexas

    He made a few nice comments about Fales. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything. He would’ve said similarly things about any QB he watched at pro day.

  • PrometheusISgodoftheblog

    Bortles is the only QB I’d take high in rd 1. Carr if its later. but no johnny bieber or teddy “180 pounds carrying a 60 pound rucksack” bridgewater. Carr is in play later in rd1 -2 because he’s a christian and will praise the lord after every TD like kurt warner..WOOOhooo

  • ghost to the post

    Round 2′s draft pick could be like a round one trade back in this deep draft. Then We could get an extra 2nd or 3rd and grab to potential starters.

  • PrometheusISgodoftheblog

    draft def needs to heavy on D. can get Mack at 5 and have our ray lewis for the next 10 years

  • RediaR

    And the top of the draft is (theoreticaly) elite. We could really use an elite player.

  • PrometheusISgodoftheblog

    yeah I’ve heard that McLovin is good with balls

  • irjonny

    you know, bortles gets a lot of flack in here, but i have a good feeling about carr and bortles being successful at the next level. absolutely agree on manziel and bridgewater too. personally i want MM and use our 1st on another position but hey, if it’s one of those guys i won’t cry about it

  • Howard Benner

    How can he be 1/4 on passes of more than 10 yards in the first quarter when he was 8 of his first 10. . .Two of those throws were on slant routes. Do you think I all of a sudden forgot how the game went?!

    Later he hits an intermediate route, around 20-25 yards downfield that goes to the house with the aid of a devestating crackback block. . then he hits another intermediate route that goes for 79 yards.

    Watch his footwork & ballhandling. he consistently evades pressure, makes subtle moves to buy time & space. .. he did cough up the ball on a scramble & threw a pick in coverage & another where if he put air ont he ball the result could have been a TD. . .but he was plastered byt he pass route & his receiver dropped the ball (tough catch but this is the guy with the one handed catch of the year) & made a great ball fake, only to have his receiver stop on the route. . .

  • CVRaider

    Just watched the second quarter. EVEN WORSE. Started with a fumble. Completed a nice slant. Then a couple screens. Throws 3 passes over 10 yards, all incomplete and got receiver killed. Could have had a touchdown on fade but threw it too far. Completed more screens then throws an INT while in FG range. Hopefully the second half is better cause right now he looks terrible

  • PrometheusISgodoftheblog

    “McGloin is decent but never really gave the impression he was going to threaten Joe Montana’s records….” WTF man, the guy was a undrafted WALK ON, a walk on in college and on the NFL and outplayed most of the rookie QBs. had a better 9 game stretch as a Rook QB than peyton manning did





  • CVRaider

    You obviously don’t know anything about footwork. It’s terrible. He oversteps on his last step of drop back, causing him to be unbalanced. He then shortly rocks forward to correct himself. That causes his shoulder to be high which causes high throws.


    Heres where you and I agree…

  • Howard Benner

    don’t think you are evaluating the game properly. . read my accompanying critique. . .his receiver stopped on the route in question. He got plastered on the ball his receiver dropped on the dive, which was into his body frame.

    Oh, if the play calls for a short route why are ou emphasizing that? it’s not like UCF runs the bubble screen game as their staple. . .

  • PrometheusISgodoftheblog

    Bortles and carr have the intangibles. Bortles could end up being the best QB out of this class. and McGloin proved he’s a legit nfl starter IMO so if he ends up starting so be it. but bortles has TALENT.

  • PrometheusISgodoftheblog

    you copied me

  • Howard Benner

    I don’t consider your eval objective. . .

    I also don’t think you are watching his mobility & ball handling skills. Oh, notice the amount of times he changes plays @disqus_uk3nHVlkaD:disqus
    Also, don;t you think Clowney’s presence has something to do with that?!the LOS. . .

  • Howard Benner

    You obviously are subjective. . .& can’t count as well. . .

  • Raider Rick

    Theyre Gonna ride mcgloin as Qb and draft defense……RM said it all right there……Smokscreen on drafting a QB, he wants a trade down period. Thats what I read from this convo. Hopefully McLovin can Throw over our Big Azz O line!!

  • PrometheusISgodoftheblog

    might take a QB in rd2-3.. should draft defense though

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    Shaub/Freeman probably beat him out. He’ll beat out any draftee. If Shaub/ Freeman send Edwards packing, so b it. Maybe Edwards is about to have his McCown moment.

  • Raider Rick

    Murray, Fales,Or even that kid Savage…….Heck Id take Boyd as an undrafted free agent, speaking of which, RM will pick his depth after the draft, his specialty.

  • Raider Rick

    Vick is goin to the Jets , so scratch him off

  • Gdog

    Great to see JMac ask some tough questions that Reggie lied through his teeth to answer (what else could he do?) but I want someone to ask him about his meme to “build through the draft” and the priority to “keep our best players.”

    He can run but not hide!!

  • Dakota