Give Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie some credit for being frank. He didn’t trot out the tired personnel man’s line of insisting everything went exactly to plan.
Yes, the Raiders went after defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and didn’t get him. As well as some other players, probably including running back DeMarco Murray. That’s the nature of free agency.
“Every year, you go after a lot of guys, and you don’t get ’em all,” McKenzie said Saturday night before the Raiders’ Commitment to Excellence dinner honoring free safety Charles Woodson. “Our intent was to go hard and heavy after each one of these guys, and we were able to land a whole bunch of guys that we really liked. We fell really good about the players that we’ve added to our roster.”
McKenzie wasn’t going to give any details, but he conceded Suh, who signed a $114 million contract with $60 million guaranteed, was a person of interest. Asked if the Raiders were in the mix, McKenzie said, “Not to elaborate, but yes, we were. We went after him.”
Woodson, who spent time at the facility in a recruiting capacity, said most of the players he talked to had essentially signed on before he talked to them. He said missing out on Suh may actually pay off in terms of depth.
“There’s no question that Suh would have been huge. He would have been a great addition to the team,” Woodson said. “At the same time, if you don”t get a Suh, you can get three or four other players to make up for it. And what that does is build depth.
“Then you’ve got the draft coming up. You have the potential to build the team the way you want to. Just because you didn’t get one guy, we’ll have the opportunity to build this team the right way and that’s what Reggie’s looking at.”
A succession of newly signed free agents formed a conference call conga line Wednesday espousing the feeling that something big is going on at Harbor Bay Parkway, including center Rodney Hudson, defensive tackle Dan Williams, linebacker Curtis Lofton, linebacker Lee Smith, linebacker Malcolm Smith and running back Roy Helu Jr.
It’s what they’re supposed to say. They got big paydays, it was no time for negativity.
Woodson and McKenzie insist they feel the same way.
“The vibe is crazy right now,” Woodson said. “A lot of positive energy coming from everybody in there. The great part about it is you have a lot of (coaches) who are ex-players, so I think the energy is kind of innately there . .. they have that natural energy.
“It’s been great to talk to ’em and get their vision. I think it’s going to be a great year for us.”
Said McKenzie: “No question it is legitimate. The guys feel, they know, the players know, the coaches know. I think they’re feeding each other. The whole building is feeling it.”