GREEN BAY – Reggie McKenzie will be the new general manager of the Oakland Raiders.
First reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Green Bay Packers director of football operations confirmed the news via a text message Thursday night but declined further comment. Multiple reports had McKenzie formally interviewing for the job on Wednesday, although the Raiders have been interested in McKenzie since shortly after the October passing of owner Al Davis, who had served as the team’s de facto general manager.
McKenzie not only played four NFL seasons for the Raiders, but former Packers general manager Ron Wolf and former Raiders personnel executive Ken Herock had been advising the Raiders in their search.
McKenzie, who joined the Packers as a pro personnel assistant in 1994, was hired by Wolf and worked with him until Wolf’s retirement in 2001; Herock, a longtime friend and colleague of Wolf’s with the Raiders, also worked alongside McKenzie when he was with the Packers from 1999 through 2001, until coach Mike Sherman took on the dual role of coach/GM.
McKenzie interviewed for the Houston Texans’ GM job in 2006 but lost out to Rick Smith. He then interviewed for the Tennesse Titans GM job in 2007 (losing out to Ted Thompson's friend and former teammate Mike Reinfeldt, another former Packers exec) and the Atlanta Falcons GM position in 2008 (losing out to Thomas Dimitroff).
Packers general manager Ted Thompson spoke glowingly of McKenzie in a phone interview Wednesday evening, saying he was ready for an opportunity.
“Reggie is a really good man, a very good friend,” Thompson said. “From being trained by Ron Wolf like the rest of us, he’s a very good evaluator and football guy.”
Thompson, whose first tour of duty with the Packers began when Wolf hired him in 1997, said he has watched McKenzie grow as a talent evaluator over the years.
“Hopefully all of us are growing all the time,” Thompson said. “That’s part of the whole system Ron set up.”
While Thompson would not speak specifically about McKenzie’s candidacy with the Raiders, he made it clear that he believed McKenzie would be a desirable general manager on his own merits, not because he’d be coming from the Packers, who won Super Bowl XLV and are the NFC's No. 1 seed entering the playoffs.
“I think it’s the individual. I don’t think people say, ‘We have to go get a guy from this team because they’ve done this,’ ” Thompson said. “I think it’s about it being the right person.”
NFL.com reported that the Raiders could hire both McKenzie and Packers assistant director of player personnel Eliot Wolf, the son of Ron Wolf. Eliot Wolf was promoted to his current position before this season after the Philadelphia Eagles pursued him following the draft.
McKenzie admitted in a conversation in San Diego in early November in the wake of Davis’ death that the Raiders’ situation came with some challenges.
Raiders coach Hue Jackson made the calls on personnel after Davis' death and swung a deal with the Cincinnati Bengals for semi-retired quarterback Carson Palmer, a deal that came with a hefty price tag: Oakland gave up a 2012 first-round pick and a 2013 second-round pick to get him. That leaves the Raiders with only picks in the fifth and sixth rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft until compensatory picks are determined by the league in March.
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today,” and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.