There is more than meets the eye when talking about Austin Howard’s time with the Raiders
Austin Howard was cut by the Oakland Raiders last night and with that, it is time to look back at one the biggest acquisitions in Reggie McKenzie’s tenure as general manager.
Back in 2014, Adam Schefter, of ESPN reported that the Raiders had signed Austin Howard, who enter the league as an undrafted-free agent in 2010, to a 5-year $30 million contract. The move was questioned at that time and even though Howard was not the best player on the field and was the weakest link in what is considered to be one of the most talented offensive lines in the NFL last season, his signing represented the start of the new era for the Raiders.
OAKLAND!!! A lifetime of memories have been made these past three years, and I am grateful for every single one of them. Unfortunately my time with the #Raiders has come to an end. To my OL dawgs, love y'all boys. #RaiderNation appreciate all your support, you guys are like none other. I came to Oakland my first year with a start of 0-10… through hard work and dedication we built a team that had more success it had in years, and thus we turned this group of players into a play-off bound and elite team. Starting on this Offensive line for the majority of that time is something that I'll never forget. One thing I can say is that no matter the situation, no matter if it was battling through injury, or political scrutiny that this business demands, I left it all out the for my teammates and always had and will always have their back. I will always be proud of that. Thank you to Mr. Davis and the Raiders organization/coaches that allowed me this opportunity. Thank you to my family, especially my parents, siblings, my friends, my agent Kevin Robinson, and last but DEFINITELY not least my beautiful wife Larissa who has been with me since the beginning, and through the thick and thin and has SELFLESSLY been the REAL reason that I've been able to do my job on the field for the passed seven seasons, for all your love, support, encouragement and prayers! To my baby girl, Daddy loves you and couldn't imagine this life without you! Having an opportunity and blessing to share all of this with you has been the biggest gift of all…As upsetting as it is, that "business" gets in the way of a good thing, I know that this is not the end of my NFL journey. Looking forward to what God has planned for me next… #DoubleSevens #NotDone #SomethingBigComingNext #NFL #DontBlink #Challenge #ImUpForIt #MovingForward #TrainsComin #GodIsGood #WatchThis #Oakland #YearEight #SeeYouSoon #UNI #Panthers
Reggie McKenzie inherited a team in decadence back in 2012 and his first order of business was to restore financial order after years of mismanagement; overpaid and underperforming veterans such as Kamerion Wimbley, Stanford Routt, Kevin Boss and John Henderson who were given the axe as soon as the general manager got hired.
In the same manner, the Raiders lacked high draft picks in 2012 and 2013 because of the ones that were used to acquire quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Terrell Pryor. Once McKenzie stabilized the team after a process of deconstruction and salary cap hell, he was finally able to spend money, lots of money.
After a decade of un-fruitfulness, it was not really easy to convince anyone to sign with the Raiders and buy into the culture McKenzie was building, so he did the smart thing and took advantage of his biggest asset at the time to lure players into joining the Raiders: $63 million to work with at the start of Free Agency in 2014.
McKenzie needed to overpay agents to go to Oakland, and Howard was one of those who benefited from the opportunity; he was one of the first prominent free agents the Raiders had gotten in a while. Pass-rushers Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley followed suit right after.
He immediately became a fixture on the offensive line and started 16 games for them in 2014 and even though he was far from elite, he arrived at a time when Donald Penn was thought to have been in the journeyman stage of his career and Gabe Jackson was just a rookie.
In 2015, Pro Football Focus gave him an 82.6 overall grade and seemed to be ready to be part of one of the best offensive lines in football for years to come until an injury derailed his campaign.
He didn’t play particularly well in 2016 and entered the 2017 offseason fighting for the right tackle job; he was not able to seize it and with that, his meaningful tenure with the Raiders was over.
Although his performance in Oakland was uneven, there is no doubt Austin Howard was part of the movement back in 2014 that has positioned the Raiders to currently contend for the Super Bowl.
Thanks, Austin Howard!