Raiders owner/general manager Al Davis was named the NFL’s executive of the year after the 2002 season. The Raiders reached the Super Bowl that year, and fell off a cliff after that.
It was appropriate to honor the man that brought the Raiders to great heights then, and it’s right to award the general manager who helped bring them back to prominence.
That occurred on Thursday morning, when Reggie McKenzie was named 2016’s NFL Executive of the Year. That honor’s bestowed by the Pro Football Writers of America, based upon a vote of the association’s membership.
McKenzie helped provide the personnel required to go 12-4 in 2016 and secure their first playoff berth since Davis was in charge.
McKenzie imported key free agents in Pro Bowlers Reggie Nelson, Kelechi Osemele and edge rusher Bruce Irvin. He drafted starting safety Karl Joseph in the first round, and added solid undrafted products in Jalen Richard and Darius Latham. He had seven undrafted free agents on the roster at 2016’s end.
He also found linebacker stability by signing Perry Riley in Week 5.
While this is an award given specifically for work in a particular season, it’s impossible to ignore McKenzie’s excellent drafts in 2014 and 2015, when he added Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, Gabe Jackson and Mario Edwards Jr. There were previous free agent adds like Michael Crabtree, Donald Penn and Rodney Hudson.
Several Raiders have been honored by the PFWA. Mack and Osemele were on the All-NFL team, and Joseph was on the All-Rookie team.
In addition to McKenzie, the PFWA named Dallas’ Jason Garrett the league’s coach of the year and Atlanta’s Kyle Shannahan the assistant coach of the year on Thursday.