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Reggie McKenzie pleased by Oakland Raiders' growth

Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie displayed his version of spring cleaning this offseason. He released wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, safety Michael Huff and linebacker Rolando McClain, traded starting quarterback Carson Palmer and changed offensive coordinators.

The Raiders went 4-12 in McKenzie's first year, and the makeup of the roster indicates his second season might be just as rough while he cleans up the previous regimes' mistakes.

While Raiders owner Mark Davis gave McKenzie assurances he would be given leeway to rebuild his way, Sports Illustrated's Peter King asked the general manager if he worried another poor season might cause the owner to change his mind.

"No, I don't fear that,'' McKenzie told King on Monday morning. "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.''

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The Raiders' salary cap is a complete mess. Because of previous bad contracts given out by Al Davis, the Raiders have approximately $48 million in dead money in 2013, leaving them only about $75 million to spend, which King points out is equivalent to the league cap number 10 years ago.

While he's had to be frugal and calculated this season to navigate around the team's financial troubles, don't expect McKenzie to go on a shopping spree next season when he has cap space to play with.

"Remember -- the way I was raised in football, in Green Bay, was not as a big spender in free agency," McKenzie told King. "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.''

McKenzie's plan is beginning to unfold, and as long as Mark Davis continues to stay out of McKenzie's way, the Raiders' resurgence might not be as far off as the team's record would indicate.

Follow Kevin Patra on Twitter @kpatra.

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