My take on the disastrous Raiders' 2012 campaign is that it is truly a unique year in many ways -- call it the perfect shit storm.
New owner, new GM, new coaching staff, new systems, a depleted roster lacking talent and depth, key injuries, makeshift bargain basement replacements, etc.
The biggest X factors in this shit storm equation is what our new GM inherited.
Reggie inherited a payroll that was by far the most over the cap of all 32 teams. Going into the 2012 off-season, the Raiders payroll was at $145.7M (or approx. $25M over the cap). To put some perspective on these numbers, Denver was $50M under the cap.
It isn't just that he had a shoe string budget to fill out his roster. It is the fact that he had to go bargain hunting with band-aid 1 year replacements in addition to not having the luxury of re-signing a few players.
I'm not suggesting that Bush, Wimbley, Routt, Boss were necessarily 'world beaters' or that their salaries weren't out of whack ... but this is the type of depth and talent that would have rounded out the roster. Reggie's hands were tied to retain players but more importantly, to identify upgrades in the open market.
He inherited the fewest draft picks of all 32 teams. The 1st Raiders pick wasn't until the end of the 3rd round (OT Bergstorm). Finding players in the late rounds that can make an impact is challenging to say the least. Before Reggie came on board, this is what our 2012 draft board looked like:
Traded to Bengals for Carson Palmer
Traded to Patriots for 2011 3rd- and 4th-rd picks
Exercised in 2011 supplemental draft (Terrelle Pryor)
Traded to Redskins for Jason Campbell
Still own pick
Still own pick
Traded to Seahawks for Aaron Curry
This transition has been very difficult to say the least. How does a GM build a team without coin or picks? In my opinion, Reggie did a lot of the necessary "dirty work" this year to put the Raiders in a better position in subsequent seasons. In 2013 he will have the cap space and draft picks to construct a team from the ground up with players that he identifies as building blocks.
I expect to see tangible progress and an improved performance year over year as the Raiders rebuild from the ground up. Or as another Raider fan (Raider 00) opinionated on RaiderTake,
" I would like to give Reggie a couple of drafts, where he actually has some draft picks, to see what he can do.
I also would like to see DA coach the new players Reggie brings in.
I am all in for 2 more years. By the 2014/15 season, I expect the Raiders to field a contender."
Concur 100% with this grounded and reasonable opinion.