Coming off a 4-12 season in 2012, the Oakland Raiders were clearly rebuilding rather than contending for a championship.
Usually a team will look to the NFL draft to rebuild quickly, but with a shortage of draft picks, the Raiders were unable to rely on drafting to fill all their needs immediately.
If the draft fails, a rebuilding team could use free agency as a route to become competitive again, but the Raiders were still in a salary-cap crisis from years past, so there would be no big-name acquisitions in free agency.
So with a low supply of draft picks as well as salary-cap space, how on Earth would general manager Reggie McKenzie be able to make the Raiders respectable in the 2013 offseason?
McKenzie had an offseason that should make him the next winner of the Executive of the Year award in the NFL.
McKenzie did some wheeling and dealing to get the Raiders 10 draft picks in the 2013 draft. One of the best moves he made in the draft was moving down to earn a second-round pick that had been traded by the previous regime.
Despite moving down to the 12th selection, McKenzie was still able to grab an impact player in D.J. Hayden who could solidify the cornerback position for years to come. Cornerback has been a glaring weakness for Oakland in recent years, but McKenzie was able to beef up the position with the draft.
McKenzie also brought the Raiders a great pair of bargain-bin free-agent cornerbacks in Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins. McKenzie has turned the Raiders' thinnest position into one of great depth with these moves.
Another position in dire need of new talent was linebacker, which is now also one of Oakland's best-looking position groups. Particularly the addition of Nick Roach, who has spent his career learning from Brain Urlacher in Chicago, has strengthened the position. Roach can be the new middle linebacker for Oakland, and he looks much better than Oakland's previous middle linebacker.
Speaking of former Raiders, McKenzie has done a great job of weeding out the players who were not living up to their expectations or bloated salaries. Names like Rolando McClain, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Michael Huff and Tommy Kelly will no longer have a choke hold on the team's payroll. By trimming the overpaid players from the roster, Oakland could have about $50 million in cap space next year.
McKenzie was also able to grab a possible future franchise quarterback in the fourth round of the draft with Tyler Wilson. Despite already acquiring Matt Flynn and still having Terrelle Pryor, McKenzie took Wilson, and he has earned rave reviews so far in rookie minicamp.
In one offseason with limited resources, McKenzie has filled many of Oakland's glaring needs, although some areas remain weak, such as the offensive line and wide receiver. The Raiders did just sign Josh Cribbs, according to ESPN.com, but his impact is mostly felt on special teams.
With McKenzie being able to make this team look respectable, and possibly finding his franchise quarterback at the same time, the Raiders may have had the best offseason in the NFL, considering the resources they had compared to other teams.
If not the best offseason, it is certainly the most underrated offseason in the NFL.
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