INDIANAPOLIS -- The good news for Reggie McKenzie is this year’s salary-cap situation is not as bad as last year when he took over the Oakland Raiders.
The bad news is the Raiders are still nowhere near where McKenzie wants to be regarding the salary cap.
Last year, the new Oakland regime had to make massive cuts. This year, more salary-cap cuts are likely on the way.
“We have some decisions to make, and there may be some tough decisions,” McKenzie said. “But we have until March 12 [when free agency and the new league year begins] and we will make them by then. Nothing is imminent … This won’t be as bad as last year, but it’s not where we want to be. Hopefully, next year we can start to get out of it a little bit.”
McKenzie wouldn’t discuss any specific player contracts. But players like defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey seems to be prime candidates to be cut if they don’t restructure their deals. Quarterback Carson Palmer also could be cut, because he has a salary-cap number of more than $13 million. Still, at this point, I get the sense that the Raiders would prefer to work something out with Palmer.
While the salary cap is fluid, McKenzie doesn’t expect to have a surplus of cap room once all the decisions have been made.
“We will have some [room], but not a lot,” McKenzie said. “I’m not going to be able to go spending a bunch of money this year … We will be able to go after some middle-tier guys.”
Meanwhile, McKenzie said no decision has been made on the future of middle linebacker Rolando McClain. But it appears McClain, who was suspended by the team late last year, will be jettisoned. Also, McKenzie said the team is interested in trying to keep free-agent punter Shane Lechler.
But, of course, the salary cap will play a role in all moves this year.