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Grant Cohn: Raiders flop at free agency

  • Jared Veldheer left the Raiders for a five-year, walk away to the Arizona Cardinals for a five-year, $42.5 million deal in Arizona. (Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)

You've got to wait on Raiders' general manager Reggie McKenzie, give him a chance. Don't judge him on his first two horrible seasons. Those weren't his fault. He had to tear down Al Davis' mess. You can't judge McKenzie until Year 3.

Fifteen minutes into Year 3, McKenzie flopped.

McKenzie let the Raiders' left tackle, Jared Veldheer, walk away to the Arizona Cardinals for a five-year, $35 million contract as soon as free agency began. A few minutes later, McKenzie gave more money – $42.5 million over five years – to a lesser player, Rodger Saffold. He is a better offensive guard than an offensive tackle.

Now, the Raiders have to spend their first-round pick in the upcoming draft on a left tackle, the most important position on the offensive line. They can't trade down – all of the good left tackles will be gone after the top 10 picks. And the Raiders can't take a quarterback with their first pick, either, because Veldheer isn't around to protect him.

Ain't that a shame?

Around the same time Veldheer signed with the Cardinals, the Raiders' free agent defensive end Lamarr Houston signed with the Chicago Bears. McKenzie just let him go. The Raiders have one of the least-talented rosters in the NFL and more cap space than any other team, but McKenzie let his top two free agents walk.

Not a good 15 minutes for Reggie McKenzie. It almost seems like he was trying to make the Raiders worse, if that's possible.

He could have franchised Veldheer or Houston. He didn't. Instead, it seems like players are fleeing the Raiders.

Who did McKenzie choose to re-sign? Darren McFadden, the running back who never has played a full season during his six-year NFL career, and has the durability of a cream puff.

What a mistake. The Raiders will be lucky to win five games next season.

It's not like these mistakes were firsts for McKenzie. He made mistakes last year, too. Remember, he traded for Matt Flynn, a bust. And the top-two players McKenzie drafted – D.J. Hayden and Menelik Watson – played 13 games combined last season.

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