CBSSports.com reported on Sunday that McKenzie wouldn’t be back with the organization in 2019.
McKenzie gave news to scouts
Via NFLN, McKenzie met with his scouts on Monday and told them that he had been fired. He was reportedly given the option to stay through the end of the season but is not expected to do so.
A short time later, ESPN reported that McKenzie has been relieved of his duties, effective immediately.
McKenzie was hired in 2012; in that time, Oakland was 39-70 with one playoff appearance. After trading away top pass-rusher Khalil Mack and receiver Amari Cooper earlier this year, the Raiders have struggled, but they upset the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
McKenzie inherited a mess
As noted by ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, McKenzie inherited a mess when he was hired in 2012: the Raiders were $30 million over the salary cap at the time, and McKenzie had to cut so many contracts the team carried $74 million in dead money in 2012-13; they didn’t have a first-round pick in 2012 or second-round pick in 2013 because of Hue Jackson’s trade for Carson Palmer in 2011; and their first-round picks in previous years, who should have been part of the core of the team, were busts and/or disappointments (Rolando McClain, Darrius Heyward-Bey, JaMarcus Russell).
To be sure, not all of McKenzie’s draft picks were home runs, though his 2014 class included pass-rusher Khalil Mack, whose trade to Chicago in September shocked many (and led to Gruden wondering aloud why the Raiders don’t have a pass rush in the weeks since), quarterback Derek Carr, and starting guard Gabe Jackson as his first three picks.
Writing on the wall for months
This move likely wasn’t a surprise to McKenzie. Months ago, there was a report that Gruden had his own scouting staff, separate from McKenzie’s, and he relied on them to put together his own draft board before the 2018 draft.
Gruden’s guys were not listening to McKenzie. A man named Dave Razzano, listed on the team’s website as director of football research who is a longtime NFL scout and has tweeted that Von Miller would be a bust and Jake Locker should have been the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, got an office next to Gruden’s and has his ear when it comes to personnel.
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