Free Agency Thoughts: Oakland Raiders


Key Additions: Matt Schaub ($6.8M per year), Austin Howard ($6M), LaMarr Woodley ($5.2M), Justin Tuck ($5M), Donald Penn ($4.8M), Antonio Smith ($4.5M), Tarell Brown ($3.5M), James Jones ($3.3M), Kevin Boothe ($1.3M), Maurice Jones-Drew ($2.5M)

Key Re-Signings: Charles Woodson ($2M per year), Darren McFadden ($1.8M), Pat Sims ($1.5M), Usama Young ($1.2M)

Key Losses: Jared Veldheer (Cardinals), Lamarr Houston (Bears), Rashad Jennings (Giants), Tracy Porter (Redskins),

Major Cuts: Mike Brisiel ($1.4M cap savings)

Free Agency Thoughts:

The Raiders went into free agency with the most cap space in the history of the NFL and they did what they could to spend it. Was it spent wisely?  I guess that depends on your perspective. If you are excited about having a large number of contracts that are in essence one year contracts then you should feel that the Raiders did great. They added at least nine starters, kept three good pieces and if any fail they can go and cut them all in 2015. If that doesn’t float your boat, then you should think this was a terrible offseason.

The one decision nobody should argue with is bringing in Matt Schaub. Oakland was in desperate need of a QB and Schaub is just one year removed from at least being an effective game manager. In a sense it’s a lateral move from Carson Palmer but with more favorable contract terms. It was a huge need and they filled it. His new deal does not preclude them from drafting a QB either.

The Raiders brought in Austin Howard to play either right tackle or guard at $6 million a year. It’s a very strong contract for Howard made stronger by what seems to be a clerical error by the Raiders which caused a large first year roster bonus to be treated as a signing bonus. I’d be almost certain the Raiders had no desire to do this as no contract they signed had prorated money beyond 2014 and the bonus language here was designed to avoid this bonus from prorating. Perhaps they can petition for a change but the current management council decision has the bonus prorated.

Outside of the Howard signing free agency pretty much played out like an attempt to recreate a Pro Bowl team from 2009. Charles Woodson (38), Donald Penn (31), Kevin Boothe (31), Antonio Smith (33), Justin Tuck (31), LaMarr Woodley (30), and James Jones (30) all make up the post 30’s brigade this year, and all, except for Jones, should have question marks surrounding them. Penn and Woodley were no longer wanted by their original teams because their play had dropped so much. Tuck was willing to stay in New York for less money but the Giants had no desire to bring him back. Smith and Woodson are both at ages where you keep your fingers crossed.

I’m can’t explain the decisions at running back. The team retained Darren McFadden and then signed the ancient, in football years, Maurice Jones-Drew. There are no excuses for McFadden who is not just injury prone but also awful when healthy. McFadden’s deal contains almost no guarantees but even $1.75 million if he makes the team is too high. MJD will earn $500,000 less than the younger Knowshon Moreno and about $1 million less than the top players signed this year at RB. Oakland has to hope that the only cause for his problems in Jacksonville was the poor offensive line.

Tarell Brown was a strong signing by the team. He is a capable cornerback and being on a “prove it” contract should get the best out of him. It would have been nice to get him for two years, but I don’t think he would agree to those terms right now. Jones should be a reasonable veteran that can be the third guy with potential weeks to have more of a role. The re-signing of Sims and Young were both solid and both on reasonable contracts.

I can’t wrap my head around allowing the younger Veldheer and Houston to walk away without a fight. The loss of Veldheer in particular seemed like a lesson in not how to run a franchise. At the least they could have put a transition tag on him and then rescinded the tag had Rodger Saffold, who the Raiders identified as his replacement, passed a physical. Instead they let Veldheer walk and when they backed out of the Saffold deal had to scramble to find a name off the scrap heap to play left tackle.

Overall Grade: D

For whatever reason when I look at Oakland I see the same type of team that they put out there two or three years ago, except the contracts are not obscene this time around. I would have thought they would have been aggressive in trying to nab a few younger players such as one of the cornerbacks or guards but they passed on the front tier of free agents. I understand wanting players on your contract terms (no signing bonus and nothing more than vesting guarantees) but that should not hamper you from getting a player. The Buccaneers run a very similar style and had no issues getting players to sign. If the Raiders vision is to have these veteran players show a new crop of younger guys how to professionally approach the job, that’s something, but as it stands there is very little long term vision in the group that was put together.




Looking at Possible Contracts For the Raiders Jared Veldheer


It was reported yesterday that the Raiders and LT Jared Veldheer are working on a contract extension, so I figured we could take a look at what contract possibilities there could be for him. Veldheer is a 26 year old former 3rd round draft choice playing the final year of his contract. He has been sidelined by injury for the first 11 games of the season but prior to that had started 44 games over his three year career and never been injured.

Pass Blocking

I like to break down pass blocking effectiveness using pressures and sacks allowed using a formula I developed where we consider a completed pass as a “success” and an incomplete as a “failure”.  Every time a QB drops back to pass he is expected to complete about 63.7% of his dropbacks when he faces no pressure.  If he Is pressured that number falls to 43.1%. So what I do with pass blockers is determine the percentage of plays where I can assign then to be the cause of “play failure”.

To illustrate this calculation I’ll use Joe Thomas of the Browns, who has been the best pass blocking tackle in the NFL for the last three years. Using statistics from Pro Football Focus we see that Thomas blocked on 574 plays. With no pressure 574 dropbacks should result in 208.3 failed pass attempts (574 * (1-63.7%)).  That is our baseline number for the perfect player.

Thomas has allowed the QB to be pressured 27 times bringing his unpressured dropbacks down to 547, which equals 198.5 failures. Of the 27 pressures one is a sack which equals one failure. Of the 26 other pressures (hits and hurries) we can calculate that the play failed 14.8 times (26 * (1-43.1%)). Add those three numbers together and we calculate that Thomas’ plays resulted in 214.3 failures, so, in essence, his blocking is responsible for 6 non-completions, an increase of 2.88%.

Over the last three years the average left tackle who appeared in at least 50% of his teams passing snaps,  allows an increase in failures of 5.01%. The best of the last three seasons was Thomas in 2012 with 2.05% and the worst was D’Anthony Batiste of the Cardinals in 2012 at 11.12%. For players who qualified for at least 2 of the last 3 seasons the average is 4.55%. Thomas again ranks highest at 2.43% for his three years of work while J’Marcus Webb is the worst at 6.66%. Obviously other factors play a role in the effectiveness of a players such as play calling, QB smarts (the Peyton Manning vs Tim Tebow disparity being the greatest), and play grading by PFF, but it’s at least a tool to put some perspective into the position.

Veldheer ranks in the top half of the position in both 2011 and 2012. In 2011 he scored a 4.36%, which ranked 11th for the position. In 2012 he was more effective with a grade of 3.71% which was good for 10th in the NFL. His two year average score of 4.04% ranks 9th among the 27 players who qualified for at least two seasons. That’s a better number than Ryan Clady (4.12%), Joe Staley (4.31%), Jordan Gross (4.84%), Jake Long (5.06%), D’Brickashaw Ferguson (5.1%), Jermon Bushrod (5.16%), and Will Beatty (5.99%).

Run Blocking

I don’t really think teams put significant weight into this aspect of the game when paying a Left Tackle. For one teams simply don’t run that often as the NFL has become a pure passing league. Secondly runs in the direction of the outside part of the line are only around 25% according to data maintained by Football Outsiders. So while the tackle plays a role in all running plays, overpaying for that aspect of the game is a bad business decision. You just want to make sure the player is not going to hurt you in that part of the game.

Veldheer would seem to be a capable player in the run game. in 2012 runs directed at the LT for the Raiders ranked 10th in the NFL. In 2011 they ranked 11th. This year they rank 10th as well without him. While the run personnel is better this season I don’t think anyone will be fooled into overpaying for “rub blocking” nor will they downgrade him for the same.


Contract Points

I think one of the things that works against Veldheer is the fact that he is a 3rd round draft pick. While late draft picks can make up for their draft positioning, general honors and recognition come far easier for the top picks in a draft, until a player is established, which Veldheer is not having just two full seasons in the NFL. Veldheer also plays in relative obscurity in Oakland because they have been so bad for so many years.

With no Pro Bowls, All Pro seasons, or draft stature pushing a contract I felt that this was probably the best list of comparables I could come up with:

NFL Left Tackle Salary

The gold standard here would be Brown, who was a much higher pick and an established four year starter but had yet to earn any Pro Bowl or All Pro nods when he signed his contract. Brown was also a superior player. His pass block numbers the past three years have averaged 3.02% and he was the 4th rated LT in 2011, the year before he signed his mega extension.

Beatty is the name that should interest Veldheer the most. Beatty only started 31 games prior to signing his extension with the Giants this past offseason. New York fell into the one season wonder trap with him. In 2010 he graded at a below average 5.89% but when playing for a new contract saw the number fall down to a terrific 3.38%. The Giants bought in, as teams often do when they believe in a player, and this year he is up to an 8.7% number, second to last in the NFL.

Despite the fact that Veldheer has not played this year he is the player he should be looking to exceed in contract value. Beatty’s two year average of 4.63% leading into his new contract is inferior to Veldheer’s 4.04%.  Neither is exactly established at the position. Neither was a high draft pick and neither really rewarded for his play leading into a deal.

Jermon Bushrod could be used to drop the price a bit. Bushrod had more experience and because he was a member of a high powered offense he also received recognition in the form of back to back Pro Bowls. His numbers were only impressive in 2011 (3.83%) and have fallen back to slightly below average after that. His guarantees and cash flows are nowhere near as impressive as Beattys.

The other interesting contract that I want to use to push the price is that of Sam Baker. Baker is another one of those players whose price was pushed by draft status. His 2012 contract year was nothing more than average (4.93% rating) and he was injured in 2011. While his $6.85 million average is not as impressive as the $7.2 million Bushrod received, the cash flows are tremendous. Provided the Falcons pick up a 2014 option his money is also well protected.

The following two tables present the cash flows and percent of five year payouts earned in each year

Left Tackle Cash Flows

Potential Salaries

Outside of overpaying for Sebastian Janikowski, which I have to think was a directive that came from ownership, the Raiders front office has not really shown how they will be handling contract negotiations for top tier players. They did make Marcel Reece the highest paid Fullback in the NFL, but that is not a premier position either so I would throw that out. Veldheer is going to be their first high quality signing and may be a precedent point for the organization.

I would think a fair compromise is to match the annual value of the Bushrod contract, but make the cash flows match closer to that of the Baker contract. That would still put Veldheer under Beatty, which may not be fair but I think will be important to Oakland. While I don’t know what they will be planning I don’t sense that they want to be a pricing point for any position.

Due to uncertainty since he was out this year I would also imagine that the Raiders will include playtime bonuses that, in unearned, would bring his contract down to the Baker 5 year number of $6.9 million. If they want to bring him above Beatty than the bonuses I would have would bring him down to Bushrod’s APY.  I would also like to get a deal done in the next few weeks if possible. Oakland currently has $2.75 million in cap space and can afford to use up $1.5 million of that on Bushrod this season to lower the dead money at the end of the contract.

The Raiders do have luxury of using more cap space next season than most other teams since they project to have around $70 million in cap space, but if using a somewhat traditional contract structure I’d consider something like this:

Possible contract for Jared Veldheer

In this proposed structure Veldheer receives the first year fully guaranteed and will earn a vesting guarantee in 2015. If he is injured again in 2014 the Raider can move on with just $4.5 million in dead money. They could probably add another vesting  guarantee in 2016 as well if they wanted. For cap purposes they could very easily swap the 2014 and 2015 salaries to frontload the contract a bit more. I  think as long as 2016 is a reasonable number, since the hope would be that the team actually has players to pay at that point, they won’t be compromised when dealing with other players.

I’ll be interested to see where they go with Veldheer since he is not a marquee name but has played pretty well in his two full seasons. If they use the injury this year to their advantage that’s a great job by the Raiders because there is really no reason for him to not be somewhere in that $7 million to $7.5 million a year range based on how he has played. I’d imagine this will be finalized in the next two weeks.



Details Of Marcel Reece’s New Contract


Last week Ian Rapoport of reported that Raiders FB Marcel Reece signed a contract extension that would provide for the largest guarantee ever for a Fullback. We now can share the details of the contract.

According to a league source Reece will now earn $12.45 million over the next four seasons with an opportunity to max the contract out at $12.95 million via Pro Bowl incentives. Reece was scheduled to earn $1.423 million in 2013, so the new money in the contract is actually $11,027,000. Upon signing the contract Reece is guaranteed $4,116,294, which is comprised of a $3.52 million signing bonus and the balance of his Paragraph 5, which was reduced to $630,000.

Reece’s $2.95 million salary In 2014 is guaranteed for injury only but will vest on the 3rd day of the League Year and be protected for skill, injury, and salary cap termination. In 2015 the base salary is $2.55 million and in 2016 it will be $2.6 million. Reece can earn workout bonuses of  $50,000 each year.

While these numbers are lower than the initial reports, these are still very strong numbers for a Fullback in the NFL and the highest full guarantee upon signing given to a FB that I can recall.

View Marcel Reece’s Contract and Salary Cap Page

View Marcel Reece’s Financial Chart

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State of Rebuild – Oakland Raiders


How do you build a winning football team?  Over the next few weeks I am going to look at a handful of teams that are relatively early in their rebuilding process or on the verge of a possible rebuild.  The purpose of this is not to reflect on past regime decisions compared to the current decisions but rather to start the analysis from day one and evaluate personnel decisions along with contract structures and styles to see if certain trends help produce a winning franchise.

State of the Franchise and Front Office

It’s well recognized by even the most diehard Raider fans that the team hasn’t lived up to its mantra “Commitment to Excellence” for a very long time.  General Manager Reggie McKenzie and Head Coach Dennis Allen enter their second year with the Raiders in one of the most unique situations I can remember.  To put it simply, McKenzie has blown the whole thing up.  This is essentially an expansion team that has been broken down to the bones and in the early stages of a massive and complete rebuild.  For a great in-depth look at how the Oakland Raiders got to where they are, I encourage you to read Joel Corry’s piece by clicking here.


GM Reggie McKenzie and HC Dennis Allen

With McKenzie seemingly purging the roster completely, the Raiders have amassed a stunning $50,321,847 in dead money this year, effectively decimating this year’s salary cap.  In my opinion, it’s an absolutely brilliant maneuver.  The Raiders weren’t going to compete for a Super Bowl this year, let alone a division title, and were anchored down by terrible contracts and personnel decisions.  By cutting loose the awful contracts and biting this bullet this year, the Raiders are set to have almost a complete clean slate heading into 2014.  The Raiders currently have the smallest amount of money committed to players under contract next year at $51,476,044, and are set to lead the league in cap space going into next year by a long shot even after factoring in the $6,609,588 of dead money.  With a cleaned out roster and tons of cap space, it will be interesting to see if McKenzie builds through the draft and avoids free agency like he did when he was the Director of Football Operations for the Green Bay Packers or splurges with all the available funds.

Despite all the pessimism around the chances of the Raiders winning more than a handful of games this year, there was a brief moment during last weekend’s contest against the Colts where everyone watching thought, “The Raiders might actually win this game.”  But alas, a late interception by Terrelle Pryor sealed a week 1 loss for the Raiders to the relief of nearly half the Survivor Pool participants who confidently picked the Colts.

Contract Strategies and Trends

There isn’t a ton to look at in this section yet.  Most of the players McKenzie has brought in this offseason have similar style deals, usually one-year in length, with a small to medium sized signing bonus, and a workout bonus usually ranging from $100,000-$250,000.  Some of these players include S Charles Woodson, CB Mike Jenkins, and DT Vance Walker.  McKenzie for the most part has avoided using roster bonuses but there are a few exceptions including Tracy Porter’s $187,500 RB and Usama Young’s $65,000 RB, both of which are in 2013.  After using the franchise tag on S Tyvon Branch last offseason, McKenzie also used a pair of roster bonuses when the Raiders agreed to a new contract with him before the deadline that contained a $1,000,000 roster bonus in 2014 and 2015.

McKenzie’s biggest free acquisitions over the past two offseasons were G Mike Brisiel and LB Nick Roach.  Both contracts are set up very similarly with Brisiel’s 5-year deal and Roach’s 4-year deal both containing a standard breakdown of P5 (base) salaries, signing bonuses, and workout bonuses.  Brisiel was brought in last year to play guard in the zone-blocking scheme, but after one unsuccessful year the Raiders have abandoned it.  Brisiel’s underwhelming play last year and an offensive-line scheme change led to what was originally believed to be a pay-cut.  Instead it seems to be more of a normal restructure.  This is odd because it was widely believed that Brisiel wouldn’t quite fit into the Raider’s new scheme, and would only have cost $2,240,000 in dead money to move on from him.  Now it would cost almost $3,930,000.  If Brisiel turns his play around this year than there is nothing to worry about, but if he continues to struggle, now the Raiders are committed even more to a player they don’t want, and had the chance to bite a smaller bullet earlier.  For what it’s worth, PFF graded his first game against the Colts as an average performance.

Of course there is always K Sebastian Janikowski.  The longtime Raider was given an extension through the 2017 season maintaining his status as the leagues most expensive place kicker.  From what I can tell, Janikowski’s P5 (base) salaries are guaranteed in 2013 and 2014 at $3,500,000 and $2,700,000 respectively, and with small signing bonus proratations, it’s basically only a 2-year deal.  If the Raiders finally decide to move on from the Janikowski era after the 2014 season, it will only cost them $360,000 in dead money in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

McKenzie also extended long snapper Jon Condo shortly after Janikowski.  Condo’s deal isn’t anything special contractually, just a standard P5 (base) salary and signing bonus, but yet again a Raider who plays special teams is being paid at the top of the market.  For more details on Condo’s extension, click here.


Biggest Upcoming Roster Decision

The comical but semi-realistic answer to this question would be Jadeveon Clowney or Teddy Bridgewater but it is the NFL, and despite Oakland’s current situation, the Raiders are by no means guaranteed to have the 1st pick in the 2014 draft (looking at you Jacksonville).  The Raiders actually host the Jaguars this week and are giving 6 points now in what could be a decisive game for determining who has the 1st overall pick in next year’s NFL draft.  The real decision then is between Matt Flynn and Darren McFadden.

The Raiders and Flynn restructured his deal in May to create a little cap space, which in turn aided in bringing back Charles Woodson to the silver and black.  As a result, Flynn goes into the 2014 season with a cap charge of $7,625,000.  Had he won the job, and presumably would have been the starting quarterback going into next offseason, that figure isn’t terrible at all.  But after losing to Russell Wilson in Seattle last year, Flynn lost the quarterback competition again, this time to Terrelle Pryor.  Whether Pryor is the starter heading into 2014, or the Raiders use a high draft pick on one, the total cost allocation of the quarterbacks for the Raiders is still going to be a friendly figure, making keeping Flynn at the high cap number, even as a backup, reasonable.  If they decide to cut him, it would cost the Raiders $2,625,000 in dead money in 2014 as well as throwing away the 2014 5th round pick and most likely the conditional pick in 2015 that was paid to the Seahawks for Flynn.  Jason pointed out one additional reason the Raiders might choose to keep Flynn around – to reach the CBA mandated minimum cash spending.  Remember the CBA divided the actual cash spending by the teams into 4-year buckets.  Because the Raiders payroll is so freakishly low this year, they are one of the few teams that could plausibly not reach the minimum threshold.  Keeping Flynn, and paying him, would help the Raiders reach that threshold.

mcfaddenAs for McFadden, it was reported that the Raiders haven’t officially reached out to him about signing an extension before he hits free agency next offseason. The 4th overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft is entering the sixth season of a disappointing career.  The best player comparison I can think of going into this season for McFadden is 2008 2nd overall pick Reggie Bush.  Before being traded to Miami prior to the 2011 season, many of the concerns about Bush are shared by McFadden now; unproductive, injury-prone, and underachieving.  Through the first five years of each of their careers, one of those players played in 57 of 80 possible games, scored 23 rushing or receiving touchdowns, and compiled 4,803 yards from scrimmage while the other played in 60 of 80 possible games, had 29 rushing or receiving touchdowns, and compiled 4,232 yards from scrimmage.  Player 1 is McFadden and Player 2 is Bush.  Both stat-lines are extremely similar and fall far short of the expectations both franchises had when they selected the running backs at the top end of the Draft.  While I personally don’t see McFadden resurrecting his career like Reggie Bush has, I think it’s more than likely this is the final season Run DMC spends in Oakland, completing the eradication of the Raiders’ 1st round picks.

This is going to wrap up the preliminary look at some of the franchises starting their rebuilding process, in the midst of it, or on the verge of one.  There are a few more teams we could have taken a look at but I either felt that they are going to be sufficiently analyzed on the site already (Jets) or would repeat some of the styles we’ve already started analyzing from previous teams.  I’ll probably do a check-in article sometime towards the middle of the season to look at some of the moves that have been made since the articles were written and a general progress report on how their season is currently going.  As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or disagree with anything – don’t hesitate to comment or reach out to me.

Past ‘State of Rebuild’ Articles

Philadelphia Eagles

Chicago Bears

Buffalo Bills

San Diego Chargers

Ryan Feder
Tulane University Law School
J.D. Candidate 2015

Jon Condo’s Extension With Raiders Worth $3.2 Million


The Raiders continued their special teams extension when the locked up Long Snapper Jon Condo to a three year contract worth $3.2 million. The $1.067 annual value places Condo near the top of the position in terms of annual salary and with 53% of the contract guaranteed, his guarantee is exceptionally high. The guarantee consists of a $710,000 signing bonus and fully guaranteed base salaries $840,000 and $150,000 in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

The guarantee can be a bit misleading as Condo was scheduled to earn $1.2 million this year which he was virtually guaranteed to earn since he was going to be on the Raiders this season. Taking that into account the added guarantee is just $500,000 which is much more realistic way to look at the contract.

Oakland actually creates $182,500 in cap space with the extension due to lowering his base salary and including a prorated bonus in the new contract.

View Jon Condo’s Salary Cap and Contract Page


Best & Worst Contracts: The Oakland Raiders


A few weeks ago Jason LaCanfora published a list of best and worst contracts in the NFL so I thought it might make a good idea for us to do the same here at OTC, with a team by team approach. I’ll try to be a bit more analytical in terms of why money was paid and how it fits in the market, but the general premise is the same. The one key difference is outside of restructured rookie contracts under the old CBA we will only use veteran contracts as there is a big difference between best draft picks and best contracts.  Please note that there is a difference between a bad player and a bad contract when discussing some of the selections. Clicking on a players name will take you to his salary cap page.

Charles WoodsonBest Contract: Charles Woodson

The Raiders don’t really have any good contracts on their team. There is really no long term anything in place outside of the rookies who don’t qualify for best consideration unless something out of the ordinary was done with their contract. Really it is a series of one year, low cost, band-aid type deals that make up a majority of the Raiders team.  If there was one I had to go with I’d select Charles Woodson.

Why Woodson?  In fairness it seemed very few teams were interested and the Raiders certainly did not get him for the minimum (it’s a base value of $1.8 million and the potential to increase by $2.5 million more), but the Raiders needed a player like Woodson and they were creative enough to work a deal to get him on the team this season when their salary cap nightmare is still ongoing due to the near $50 million in dead money on the books in 2013.

Whether Woodson can or can not play at a high level is immaterial as the Raiders are not likely going anywhere. But Woodson brings a professionalism to the organization that has been lacking for close to a decade. Woodson was around Oakland for the last hurrah and when things really started to get bad with Bill Callahan and Norv Turner as head coach. Woodson ended up in Green Bay, one of the best organizations in the NFL, was selected to four more Pro Bowls and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Coaches can only show players so much. They need other players to carry out a vision and get others to follow their lead. It’s why Ray Lewis was so important to the Ravens even as he declined as a player. It’s why great coaches often have “their guys” on a team that keep everyone else in check and with the program. The Raiders have not had any leadership on or off the field since 2003 and are desperate need of it if they intend to win in the future. Woodson can be that player that helps them sort things out and teach young guys how it should be done, rather than how it has been done in Oakland.

The Raiders likely would not have been able to fit Woodson under their salary cap if all things were equal between Oakland and Denver. But the Raiders came up with a little contract structure that gave Woodson some reasonable incentives that would not count against the cap this season.  Most likely he will earn at least another $1.1 million if healthy but it will not really impact the cap until 2014 at which point Oakland has so much cap space the loss of $1 million means almost nothing if Woodson can help the team grow and lay the foundation for years to come.

Sebastian JanikowskiWorst Contract: Sebastian Janikowski

The Raiders finally purged themselves of all the old bad contracts, but the one that remains is the incredible $16 million dollar contract that the Raiders awarded Janikowski in 2009. At the time it was the largest ever contract for a Kicker, and not surprisingly remains on the books as the largest deal in history.

Oakland guaranteed Janikowski $7.7 million dollars, 48% of his contract. That is nearly $3.5 million more in guarantees than any player at the position and 10% higher in percent of contract guaranteed than Adam Vinatieri, the next closest long term contract.  The $16 million doesn’t even include the fact that the Raiders gave Janikowski the potential to earn even more through yearly incentives based on items like touchbacks. If he was to max out his incentives he earned an additional $200,000 per year.

The craziness with Janikowski began years ago when he was drafted in the first round of the 2000 draft, a move that typified how out of touch Raiders owner Al Davis was with the rest of the NFL. Janikowski made 1 Pro Bowl in his career and certainly has a big leg, but he was never any more certain than any other player in the NFL, the leg just afforded him more opportunities.

For a team as bad as the Raiders to spend, and keep spending, this type of money on a kicker is really unthinkable. It’s not as if there are clutch situations where they need a player like that, even if he was the best in the NFL, which he is not despite the salary. His $4 million dollar a year average ranks 4th on Oakland and his $5.1 million dollar cap hit ranks 2nd in 2013. Maybe it’s a testament to Davis’ memory that he is still here, but there is no football reason at all for Janikowski to still be on the Raiders, let alone at that salary.

Check out Our Other Best & Worst Contract Articles

AFC East: Buffalo BillsMiami DolphinsNew England PatriotsNew York Jets

AFC North: Baltimore RavensCincinnati BengalsCleveland BrownsPittsburgh Steelers

AFC South: Houston TexansIndianapolis ColtsJacksonville JaguarsTennessee Titans

AFC West: Denver BroncosKansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers (July 11)



Raiders Complete Demolition, Terminate Rolando McClain


The odyssey of Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie’s quest to eliminate “out of whack” contracts and other malcontents has come to a close. With the official release of linebacker Rolando McClain on Monday (he was waived Friday, but did not clear waivers until Monday) McKenzie has eliminated every person and every contract he felt was detrimental to the Raiders long term success. The net result: though some may be re-signed, currently only 17 of the 53 plus players including those on injured reserve when the Hue Jackson led Raiders lost to the Chargers in 2011 in finish 8-8 remain. Only 7 of those 17 are under contract for the 2014 season. Hue Jackson was right when he said “Reggie is going to gut this place” and as any situation where a new manager takes over a financially over-extended and under-performing business, it was much needed and long overdue. This will be looked at in a future post though.

First, McClain. While his contract wasn’t Mr. Al Davis’ fault, he was another in a long line of 1st round failures. While drafted to much hype, questions about how he would translate to an even front defense and having to cover more ground weren’t heard too often. People were happy to finally have a promising young linebacker to man the middle for years after many 1st round reaches and busts. Lauded for his intelligence, work ethic, and instincts, McClain was supposed to be the poster child for a turn around of both the team and the way the team drafted hopefully. As most things have gone with the Raiders, it obviously didn’t quite turn out that way.

McClain was often exposed in coverage, though part of that was exacerbated when at times he was inexplicably asked to cover the likes of Calvin Johnson 25 yard plus downfield. McClain never seemed to comfortable in space and struggles sideline to sideline. While he would deliver some ferocious hits if the player was not too far down the field and between the tackles, not only would McClain often fail to show up elsewhere, he had many a mental lapse as most of the Raiders defense often did. One such example was a game against the Packers in Green Bay in late 2011. McClain had crept up right behind Richard Seymour and they both shot the same gap at the snap. Instead of letting the play unfold and acting more in a “contain” role, McClain along with the defensive tackles shot straight through giving up positioning as usual, enabling a 47 yard touchdown. The Raiders defense was obliterated that game, giving up 4 touchdowns in 2 quarters.

As often was the problem with the rest of the defense, they gambled a lot, and for every impressive play they made, their lack of discipline caused them to give up many more. When the defense gave up a bad play, it was often atrocious, and they were continually gashed in this manner. McClain, like the rest of the defense, didn’t lack all that much physical talent, but the mental discipline aspect of the game was always non-existent for them. Now, that will be the problem of a different team and hopefully in the past for the Raiders.

As for the financial aspect of the move, while we still don’t know if a non-vested player can be designated a June 1st release after clearing waivers and having his contract terminated, the point is pretty much moot. The reason for this is that according to the always informative Joel Corry, McClain’s base salary guarantees of $1,535,000 in 2013 and $2,100,000 in 2014 were voided thanks to Al Davis’ always cautious contract language. Because of this, the Raiders are “only” on the hook for $7,260,000, a small increase of $585,000 over what would have been his cap figure of $6,675,000. For a player with attitude questions, off the field antics, and subpar play, it was an obvious move to make despite being essentially a cap neutral move. McClain was Al Davis’ last 1st round pick and in many ways represented a lot of things about the last few years of the Raiders. At one time he represented hope, which turned out to be false. He represented a failure of the 1st round drafting process for the Raiders, the last one of that time before the picks of the next two years were traded. McClain represented the flashing of talent along with the maddening inconsistency that plagued the team. There are a lot of things McClain represented but now he represents just one thing about the Raiders: the old way of building a team has in effect, been terminated. Overpaid and underperforming talent are things of the past and will not be part of the plan going forward. Well, except for Mike Brisiel, but no one is perfect.

After this move, the Raiders had roughly $7,900,000 in salary cap space (and an amazing $46,357,222 in dead money), but have since signed CB Mike Jenkins, FS Usama Young, and re-signed DE Andre Carter and CB Joselio Hanson so the number doesn’t hold much use now. I’d anticipate it’s at least 3 million less, if not more. I also believe based on the reports from the NFLPA, that RB Jeremy Stewart, OL Alex Parsons, and CB Brandian Ross have been tendered contracts as ERFAs. I’ll be looking at where the Raiders go from here at some point, and as Jason mentioned in his podcast, perhaps what could have been done last offseason, but for now, I’ll let the dust settle with the completion of the demolition.

Jim can be reached at