Oakland Raiders' Reggie McKenzie Makes Statement on First Day of NFL Free Agency

Raiders' General Manager Trying His Best to Clean House

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Oakland Raiders' general manager Reggie McKenzie made a powerful statement on Tuesday when he released free safety Michael Huff and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.

The statement was one that resonated deep within the organization and let everyone know that McKenzie is definitely the one in charge.

Seeing Heyward-Bey leave wasn't all that shocking as he was set to make over $10 million in 2013. But Huff's release was a bit of a head scratcher.

Huff had a "weird" season last year when he was forced to play cornerback instead of his natural position at free safety.

Though his production wasn't terrible, McKenzie clearly felt he wasn't worth the money the Raiders were paying him.

With Heyward-Bey and Huff no longer on the roster, Oakland now has an extra $8 million in cap space to work with. No doubt the team is in serious rebuilding mode, and a hot commodity off the free agent market is something McKenzie can now explore with some extra cash in his pocket.

Not only did McKenzie free up cap space when he cut Heyward-Bey and Huff, he asserted his dominance to the entire organization and showed that this is his team.

Simply put: nobody in Oakland is safe.

McKenzie knew the financial mess he was forced to work with before he got the job 14 months ago. Now he's doing his best to salvage it.

The Raiders still have several voids to fill and they extend far beyond the losses of Huff and Heyward-Bey.

Two of their top free agents have now signed with other teams and with an already paper-thin defense, McKenzie must work some serious magic just for everyone else not to laugh at his abysmal defense.

It is also highly unlikely that punter Shane Lechler remains a Raider in 2013 since McKenzie refused to franchise tag him. The franchise tag would've paid Lechler half of what he made in 2012, yet McKenzie didn't feel special teams was a priority.

Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly is confident he is also finished in Oakland as well after telling the San Francisco Chronicle the "writing is on the wall" for his release.

He's scheduled to have a cap hit of $11 million next season, and after cutting Heyward-Bey and a reliable free safety in Huff, it wouldn't be shocking at all if Kelly is shown the door.

Carson Palmer and Darren McFadden also have bloated contracts that need to be trimmed, and only time will tell if they remain in silver and black next year.

Long gone are the days of overpaid and unproven players roaming the field in Oakland. That's the message that McKenzie is trying to send.

And he's doing a pretty good job of it.

Steven Slivka is a Featured Columnist for the Oakland Raiders. You can follow him on Twitter @stevenslivka.

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