Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie Rightfully PFWA Executive of the Year
Oakland Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie was named Executive of the Year by Pro Football Writers of America, and deservedly so.
The Pro Football Writers of America named Oakland Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie their Executive of the Year for the 2016-2017 season on Thursday, fresh off the Silver and Black’s best season is well over a decade. McKenzie turned a dumpster-fire of a franchise into one that looks as if it will be contending for division and conference championships for years to come.
.@RAIDERS GM Reggie McKenzie, whose moves helped OAK reach playoffs for 1st time since '02 with a 12-4 mark, is 2016 Executive of the Year.
— Pro Football Writers (@PFWAwriters) January 19, 2017
Prior to a broken and dislocated pinkie finger on franchise quarterback Derek Carr’s throwing hand, Oakland was in contention to earn the number one playoff seed in the AFC. Had the Raiders not dropped two of their final four games this past season, they would have had home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Oakland had a league-high seven players selected to the 2017 Pro Bowl, all of whom were drafted or signed as free agents by McKenzie.
Khalil Mack, drafted with the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft by McKenzie, is the only player in NFL history to be named first team All-Pro at two positions in the same season (2015-2016). This year he was named the PFWA Defensive Player of the Year and had the longest streak of consecutive games with a sack this season of any player in the league in over two decades.
Carr, drafted with the fourth pick of the second round of that same draft, had an MVP-caliber season and set an all-time NFL record for game-winning touchdown passes in the fourth quarter or overtime.
Kelechi Osemele was selected as a Associated Press first team All-Pro member this year after signing a massive 5-year, $60 million deal this past offseason as a free agent purge of the Baltimore Ravens.
Rodney Hudson was the only Raider to play every offensive snap this season on his way to his first career Pro Bowl selection. McKenzie inked him to a 5-year, $44.5 million deal during the 2015 offseason, having plucked him for Oakland’s AFC West rival-Kansas City Chiefs.
Donald Penn, a former Pro Bowl free agent from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers singed on the dotted-line with McKenzie and the Raiders prior to the 2014 season and had the second Pro Bowl campaign of his career in 2016 after earning a very Raider-friendly $14 million contract in his first two seasons in the Bay prior to this year.
Reggie Nelson was named to his third consecutive Pro Bowl in his second year sporting the Silver and Black. Nelson was signed by McKenzie to a two-year, $12 million deal following his final season with the Cincinnati Bengals in which he lead the league in interceptions.
Amari Cooper, drafted with the fourth selection of the 2015 draft by McKenzie was named to his second Pro Bowl in as many seasons this year following a campaign in which he paired with Michael Crabtree to form one of only four pass-catching duos in the league to go over the 1,000 yard receiving mark.
Bruce Irvin, a free agent signing of McKenzie’s this past offseason, was named as a Pro Bowl-alternate and tied for the league lead in forced fumbles this year, proving to be a great compliment to Mack, tying for 36th in the NFL in sacks after signing a 4-year, $37.5 million contract with $12.5 million fully guaranteed this past offseason.
Michael Crabtree was named as a Pro Bowl-alternate this year after a season in which he was one of only four pass-catchers to go over the 1,000-yard receiving mark and not lead his team in receiving yards. He also corralled three game-winning touchdown or two-point conversion passes from Carr and came up clutch time and time again for Jack Del Rio and Bill Musgrave. After flirting with the free agent-Crabtree for a while during the 2015 offseason, McKenzie signed him to a very team-friendly $3 million deal before extending him with a 4-year, $35 million deal in the middle of last season.
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Gabe Jackson, Marquette King, Latavius Murray, Jamize Olawale, and Jalen Richard were also named as Pro Bowl alternates after being drafted or signed as free agents by McKenzie.
Rookie Safety Karl Joesph, whom McKenzie drafted in the middle of the first round this past year was named to the PFWA’s All-Rookie team.
After inheriting a disastrous salary-cap situation from the late-great Al Davis, Mckenzie has coveted draft picks, building his roster from the college ranks, and supplemented it through free agency after ridding the Raider-books of bad contracts. He’s built a roster that has shown it can contend for AFC championships when healthy and has left the Raiders some flexibility going forward with shrewd signings on the open market, allowing him the opportunity to resign his stellar draft-picks in the coming offseasons.
McKenzie took over the roster in 2012 when Oakland went 4-12. After seven wins over the next two seasons, including a painful 0-10 start to the 2014 campaign, Reggie’s dream-child began to grow up as the Raiders finished 7-9 with five of their losses by a score or less. After a solid win over the Buffalo Bills in week 13 of this past season, McKenzie had his roster positioned to earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs over the New England Patriots if they were able to win out, but a couple breaks in Carr’s skeleton derailed Oakland’s season.
Reggie McKenzie has done a stellar job of building a contender in Oakland and is a very-deserving recipient of the Pro Football Writers of America’s 2016-2017 Executive of the Year Award.