The Oakland Raiders are in the middle of tearing down their roster and starting all over. The man behind the rebuild, GM Reggie McKenzie, isn't free from scrutiny. And that scrutiny shouldn't slow down as the Raiders struggle -- anything better than a struggle would be stunning -- in 2013.
Yet McKenzie, as he told Peter King of Sports Illustrated, isn't worried a nightmare season will cause his job security to wane or result in Mark Davis, Al's son and Oakland owner, to fire him.
"No, I don't fear that," he said. "You know what? I don't think along those lines. I just think of doing what's needed to make this team the best it can be long-term. That's my job. But fearful? No. Not at all. Mark knew the cap part of this was going to be a two-year deal. Mark is not his father. He is allowing me to do this, and we talk about the process all the time. He's allowing me to do the job that needs to be done."
The job in question is an ugly one. A full-blown Raiders rebuild intent on remaking them in the shape of the Green Bay Packers (McKenzie's old team) is going to take a while and it's not going to look pretty.
"Yes, and we've talked about that," McKenzie told King. "Remember -- the way I was raised in football, in Green Bay, was not as a big spender in free agency. I hope we continue to draft well, and I hope we can sign our own players, because that's the way I believe you win in this league. You draft, develop and sign your own players. Mark is on board with that, and what we have to do now and in the future, he's on board with and understands and he supports."
It'll be hard for McKenzie not to top the drafting of the previous regime simply by default. Of the first-round picks Oakland's acquired in the last decade, only Darren McFadden remains on the roster. (At least he's excited about the new power-blocking scheme?) Several of the other first-round picks have been in the news though.
JaMarcus Russell is attempting a comeback and has reportedly lost 30 pounds. Rolondo McClain was waived by Oakland last week. Nnamdi Asomugha busted out with the Eagles and landed a one-year, nonguaranteed contract from the 49ers. Michael Huff landed in Baltimore on a three-year deal.
And, of course, there's Carson Palmer, who isn't technically a Raiders "first-round pick," but was acquired using one, so we'll count him. He was just dealt to the Cardinals for a sixth-round pick plus a conditional seventh-round pick, which is basically the equivalent of costing nothing.
2013 will be ugly too. But don't expect McKenzie to give up on the season just because he's going through a full-blown purge right now.
"But as far as taking our bruises now, I do want you to know we're in this to win this year," McKenzie said. "We will compete. This is not a throw-in-the-towel deal."