If they do, it will be without Kelly, who, true to his own vision, was released by the Raiders last month following nine years with the team. As of last weekend 38 of the 53 players on the pre-McKenzie roster had been released, traded or allowed to leave as free agents.
Meanwhile, McKenzie and Allen stay, which may be a tough pill to swallow for Raiders fans given the turnarounds in recent years by the likes of the Colts, who went from 2--14 to the playoffs. But McKenzie's plan always called for him to tear the whole thing down and rebuild for the long haul. That has meant upgrading the practice fields and the video and scouting departments, creating budgets and scouting templates, cutting up the credit card and getting the salary cap in order, researching what scouts and personnel on other teams were being paid so he could compensate his people fairly.
Ideally, McKenzie would hit the road for five to 10 scouting trips during a season. Last year he went out twice because there was too much work to do back home.
But he's expecting 2013 to be less hectic, in part because he's done so much housecleaning this off-season. He released Seymour, Kelly and McClain, as well as safety Michael Huff and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. He traded Palmer to Arizona, then sent two middle-round picks to Seattle for Matt Flynn and got the QB to restructure his deal to make it more front-loaded, with incentives for performance. He also chose not to make serious runs at retaining free-agent defensive tackle Desmond Bryant or linebacker Philip Wheeler, who signed five-year deals worth $34 million and $26 million, respectively, elsewhere.
Of the 53 players under contract with the Raiders today, 11 have been signed in the last four months; and although at least $45 million in dead money is being carried on this year's cap, the Raiders are expected to be at least $50 million under the ceiling in 2014.
Funny how it works out. That's the year McKenzie has targeted for Oakland to be a real division contender.