ALAMEDA — The Raiders were once one of the most successful teams in the National Football League.
“The Team of the Decades” and “Commitment To Excellence” weren’t just slogans, they embodied the standards set by owner Al Davis.
During the 1970s, the Raiders were perennial Super Bowl contenders, winning one title in the ’70s and two more in the ’80s.
Though Jon Gruden resurrected the franchise in the late ’90s — following their blowout loss in Super Bowl XXXVII — ten forgettable years of futility and mediocrity have plagued the Silver and Black.
Since 2003, the Raiders’ best single-season record has been two 8-8 campaigns and seven straight seasons of 11 or more losses.
Second-year general manager Reggie McKenzie is doing his best to turn around the organization. Tuesday afternoon, the Raiders announced the official signing of quarterback Matt Flynn, acquired from the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for two draft picks.
Raiders quarterback Matt Flynn
“I’m extremely eager. I’m excited, very humbled and honored to get this opportunity.”
The 27-year old Flynn has a history with McKenzie. Flynn was originally drafted in the seventh round by Green Bay in 2008 when McKenzie worked in the Packers’ front office:
“We always got along and I always knew that Reggie had a good head on his shoulders and he knew what he was doing. Talking with him leading up to this process, it got me excited because he has a vision for where this thing’s going. He’s a big-picture guy.”
Until now, Flynn has been a career backup. He expects to compete with Terrelle Pryor for the starting job in 2013:
“I feel like my football career I’ve been competing every year of my life and it’s something that I embrace and gets the best out of me. That’s the mental approach I’m going to take to it. I’m here to work and I’m here to compete and do whatever I need to do to make this place better.”
The Raiders are not disguising the rebuilding now underway, with Flynn acknowledging it will likely take several more years before the team climbs back to respectability:
“What I’m doing is looking to the future. I think that future is very bright for the Raiders. It’s something that I hope I can be a part of and look forward to it. I know that they have a great past here.”
Veteran quarterback Carson Palmer refused the Raiders’ suggestion that he restructure his bloated contract in order to free up salary cap space. So the team traded Palmer to the Arizona Cardinals for a sixth-round selection and conditional 2014 pick.
Palmer was slated to make $13 million in Oakland this season. By comparison, Flynn will make $5.25 million this year and $6.25 million in 2014.
Flynn is the third different Raiders’ quarterback in three years going into training camp as the starter.
Dumping Palmer and signing Flynn are part of a series of moves aimed to rid the team of high-priced veterans to restructure the roster.
Big names remaining on the roster are running back Darren McFadden, fullback Marcel Reece, receiver Denarius Moore and Pro Bowl kicker Sebastian Janikowski.
With the NFL Draft coming up, rumors have swirled for months that the Raiders may select West Virginia QB Geno Smith with the third overall pick.