Our own Scott Winter says Oakland Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie has a system – ‘double dipping’ – to address roster needs in both free agency and the NFL Draft.

With the 2018 NFL season officially underway next week, Oakland Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie is a man on a mission.

McKenzie has a new coach and a new system on offense and defense. That means his roster needs have changed, yet remained the same. Even so, don’t expect the Raiders to make a large splash in the free agency pool despite Raider Nation’s desire to do so.

That doesn’t mean the Raiders will be idle though. Oakland currently has roughly $10 million in salary cap money to play with, after the reported re-signing of defensive tackle Justin Ellis to a three-year $15 million dollar deal this past week. The team can more than double that cap number, but that would mean parting ways at least two or more current players. Names like cornerback Sean Smith, linebacker Bruce Irvin, wide receiver Michael Crabtree, and running back Marshawn Lynch come to mind.

Of those four, only Smith is expected to be released, and even that is not a guarantee. The other three are still an enigma.

NaVorro Bowman Oakland Raiders

Sources continue to report Bowman is a priority for McKenzie when the free agency season opens this coming week.

Then there is the question of bringing current Raiders back who are set to become free agents at 4pm EST on March 14th. Linebacker NaVarro Bowman, defensive tackle Denico Autry, cornerback T. J. Carrie, and tight end Lee Smith are all in targeted positions of need going into free agency and the draft. It doesn’t mean they will be brought back, but if they are not, the Raiders will have to replace them creating even more need.

Add in the big elephant in the middle of the room – wearing number 52 – and McKenzie has his hands full. The impending contract extension of Khalil Mack will probably will be in the $20+ million a year range. McKenzie is going to have to be especially frugal this off-season being diligent and focused on where and on whom he spends.

There is a method to the madness.

This will be McKenzie’s seventh season as the Raiders general manager. He has developed his own method to tackling free agency and the draft. He attacks a particular position on multiple fronts.

Here is how it works.

McKenzie is the king of what I call the “double-dip.”  Over those seven season, McKenzie has picked up a position player in free agency only to address that same position in the draft the following month. It was not until 2014 that McKenzie had both cap space and his full compliment of draft picks. He signed Lamarr Woodley and drafted Mack. Then Matt Schaub and Derek Carr, Keven Boothe then Gabe Jackson.  2015 and 2016 was no different with the Raiders signing Lee Smith and drafting Clive Walford; signing Reggie Nelson and drafting Karl Joseph – the beat goes on.

Last season, the Raiders, like this off-season, were limited by lack of cap space. Yet McKenzie was still able to improve at certain positions including the tackle position. Last NFL Draft, he drafted two tackles (David Sharpe and Jaylen Ware), picked one up in free agency (Marshall Newhouse), and extended left tackle Donald Penn. The pattern is clear and consistent.

Even with the current release of the last Al Davis hold over, long snapper Jon Condo, Reggie signed two men that play same position, earlier, to futures contracts.

Keep an eye out this off-season for a similar type approach to what the Raiders feel are positions of need.

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