I know we have a great deal of Raiders fans that come to the site and I wanted to post this link to Joel Corry’s piece on the Raiders cap history and overview of the mess that they have been in. It is a fascinating read detailing the start of the Raiders issues with the loss of Jon Gruden and eventual replacement of all the football folks that had been in charge and finishing up with the final roster purge of this season.
I’ve long maintained that the Raiders are a team that every single person who really wants to learn about the salary cap should study in detail because they are a poster child of how not to manage an organization, not just in the NFL but any business or even personal life. This piece really presents an overview that everyone should read.
I tend to think Oakland’s problems are more prominent than those of the Cowboys and Panthers, two other teams that should be studied, in part because they went from being extremely successful under Gruden to completely irrelevant in almost the blink of an eye. The Raiders were arguably the best team in the NFL in 2001 and did make the Super Bowl under Bill Callahan in 2002. Since that time they have not been to the playoffs nor have they had a winning season. Its incredible to see a team stumble so badly.
The only team with a longer non-playoff streak is the Buffalo Bills (last appearance was 1999, incredible by today’s standards to go so long). The Cleveland Browns (an expansion team returning to the NFL in 2000) has the same drought as the Raiders. The Browns did post a 10 win season and not make the playoffs in 2007. The Bills have always been considered a cheap team, but the Raiders spent like there was no tomorrow.
The Raiders have also played in one of the weaker divisions in the NFL, the only division in the NFL to produce no Super Bowl representatives since the Raiders appearance in Super Bowl XXXVII. The next closest divisions in terms of representation were the NFC North, NFC South, and AFC South, each of which have twice sent teams to the Super Bowl. The last Super Bowl win by the AFC West came in 1998 when the Broncos defeated the Falcons.
So it is hard to imagine a team going so long, with that kind of payroll, in that division and in a league now designed to give everyone a chance, without the playoffs especially coming off such a good three year period of football. I’m not sure if it is a feat that can be duplicated again though there are a few teams dangerously following a cap model that could lead to similar results down the line.
On the bright side this will be an opportunity to study a complete rebuild of a franchise in the cap era. The Raiders dont have high draft picks. There is no great QB on the horizon this year like an Andrew Luck. There are no left over really good pieces like Reggie Wayne to help someone. Its not even an expansion team being given the opportunity to take decent players off cap strapped teams. This is a pure ground floor building process. As Joel points out Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders GM, does not come from a system that spends wildly on players hoping for a quick fix so it is doubtful they go the full blown free agency route to build a squad which makes this a team that is going to be built by smart drafting and the wise selection of reasonably priced, but solid, free agents. It could be something unique to watch unfold.