Raiders executive Joey Clinkscales sees path to rebuilding franchise

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Joey Clinkscales knows what rebuilding a franchise requires.

Since 2012, he has seen it. He has helped achieve it.

The director of player personnel joined the Raiders months after longtime friend Reggie McKenzie became general manager. The storied franchise was a project; it hadn’t experienced a winning season in a decade.

Clinkscales then watched as McKenzie led the way, the front office wading through dead money against the club’s salary cap while seeking to amend a losing culture.

For McKenzie, the rebuilding process is over.

For Clinkscales, one soon could begin.

The Raiders executive figures to be under serious consideration for general manager vacancies as early as this offseason. The 53-year-old not only had a front-row seat but also oversaw some of the fundamental operations to one of the NFL’s great recent rebuilds. His scouting career is largely rooted with the New York Jets, whom the Raiders will host Sunday.

Rebuilding is neither quick nor easy, Clinkscales said.

But it’s an effort he one day hopes to lead.

“Winning is the greatest feeling in pro sports,” Clinkscales said, “but losing eats at you. It’s hard. When you’re in a rebuild and you’re losing, it gets at you. You have a tough time sleeping. It’s tough. But we just stuck with the process that we had. We stuck with the plan that we had. Reggie had a lot of faith in it. The owner (Mark Davis) had a lot of faith in it. We turned the corner.”

It required turning over a roster.

Of the 53 players the Raiders carried into Sunday’s season opener, long snapper Jon Condo was the only one whose time with the franchise predates McKenzie’s 2012 arrival. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski would have qualified, but he was placed on injured reserve Sept. 9.

Such change requires time.

Clinkscales saw McKenzie respond to an inheritance of players whose contribution failed to match their compensation. The Raiders faced salary cap implications when cutting players such as cornerback Stanford Routt in 2012; he was one year into an initial three-year, $31.5 million contract that had been restructured to a five-year deal.

In 2013, no NFL team had more dead money against the salary cap than the Raiders after parting with the likes of defensive tackle Richard Seymour, linebacker Rolando McClain, quarterback Carson Palmer (trade,) defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.

These were difficult decisions, difficult times any rebuilding franchise must face.

Clinkscales was there.

“We had to deal with that,” he said. “I call it ‘Salary Cap Hell.’ As soon as we got out of Salary Cap Hell, that’s when we were able to start guiding the ship in the right direction. Early on, we all wanted to win, but we knew the type of work that it was going to take to start the process over. …

“There’s not a really good franchise without a good quarterback. The 2014 draft was the foundation for us with obviously (quarterback) Derek (Carr), (defensive end) Khalil (Mack) and (guard) Gabe (Jackson). We had ‘Jelly’ (nose tackle Justin Ellis), (running back) Latavius (Murray). (Wide receiver) Seth (Roberts) was on the practice squad. There were a lot of pieces that we picked up in that draft that really set the foundation for this franchise.”

Clinkscales and McKenzie attended Austin-East High in Knoxville, Tennessee.

McKenzie and his twin brother, Raleigh, a Raiders area scout, were linebackers. Clinkscales, one year younger, played quarterback. All three continued at Tennessee, where Clinkscales switched to wide receiver. The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him in the ninth round of the 1987 NFL Draft.

Clinkscales became a Steelers part-time scout in 1989 and eventually began a 17-year tenure with the Jets, starting as an area scout in the southeastern region. He rose up the ranks to become vice president of college scouting upon joining the Raiders and McKenzie.

Since 2012, the former prep and college teammates have experienced lows and highs as colleagues.

“The beauty of it is we’re like-minded in our thinking about players,” Clinkscales said. “We don’t always agree because there’s always got to be a voice of reason sometimes who goes against the grain, who opens your mind to think differently. Ultimately, it’s always his final decision.”

One day, for another franchise, the final decision might be his.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

Raiders Videos
Vegas Nation: Off season update
Ed Graney, Bryan Salmond, Michael Gehlken and Gilbert Manzano sit down and discuss the latest news around the Raiders.
Las Vegas Morning Update — Sunday, July 8
The Raiders team is secretive about tickets, and the new Miss Nevada is Alexis Hilts.
Vegas Nation Stadium Show: Analysis of Raiders Stadium Construction Site
Review-Journal sports reporter Ed Graney and business reporter Rick Velotta go over the recent updates on the Raiders stadium and owner Mark Davis serving food to construction workers.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Friday, June 29, 2018
The Resort on Mount Charleston has sold, Raiders owner Mark Davis throws a barbecue, and a Las Vegas woman found dead was a police informant.
Vegas Nation: Gruden Gives "Final Exams"
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over the Raiders improvement throughout training and how Gruden has been pushing the Raiders.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Deciding On Opening Day Kicker
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken and Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney go over he Raiders choosing an opening day kicker and Doug Martin's potential.
Vegas Nation: Mandatory Mini Camp
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond, Raiders beat writer Micheal Gehlken and Review-Journal sports writer Ed Graney go over day one of the Raiders mini camp.
Vegas Nation: Derrick Johnson standing out at OTAs
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over the Raiders OTAs and how the team is adjusting to new coaching style of head coach Jon Gruden.
Vegas Nation: Week Two Of OTA's
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over the start of week two of the Raiders OTA's.
Vegas Nation: NFL Owners Meeting Day 2
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal sports writer Gilbert Manzano go over the NFL owners meeting.
Las Vegas Stadium construction site drone footage
The Raiders set up a drone at the Las Vegas Stadium construction site on May 20, 2018.
Las Vegas Stadium Milestones
Las Vegas Stadium Milestones as of May 16, 2018.
Vegas Nation: NFL Owners Meeting Day 1
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal sports writer Gilbert Manzano go over the NFL owners meeting.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Participate In First Day Of Practice
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over the Raiders first day of practice.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Minicamp
Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken goes over the Raiders minicamp and questions surrounding the Raiders picking defensive lineman Maurice Hurst from Michigan.
P.J. Hall, Maurice Hurst and Jon Gruden Talk About Mini Camp
P.J. Hall, Maurice Hurst and Jon Gruden go over the Raiders Mini camp.
Reggie McKenzie On Final Day Of NFL Draft
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie talks about the Raiders final draft picks.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Final Draft Picks
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond, Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken and Review-Journal reporter Gilbert Manzano go over the last day of the draft pick for the Raiders.
Gruden On Day Two Of Nfl Draft Picks
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden discusses the teams second day draft picks.
Raiders trade again, draft DT P.J. Hall and OT Brandon Parker
Raiders trade again and draft DT P.J. Hall and OT Brandon Parker. The team moved back again Friday, this time exchanging the No. 41 overall pick for the No. 57 selection. It then selected former Sam Houston State defensive tackle P.J. Hall. The Raiders parted with No. 75, trading up 10 spots to select former North Carolina A&T offensive tackle Brandon Parker.
Gruden On Bryant Joining Raiders, Bryant On What He Has Left To Prove
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden talks about what Bryant will bring to the Raiders and Bryant talks about what he has left to prove.
Gruden, Miller On First Round Pick
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and first round pick Kolton Miller talk about the NFL draft first round pick for the Raiders.
Las Vegas Raiders Stadium can help economic boom, expert says
Study after study has concluded that stadiums aren’t effective economic development drivers. But a leading urban growth researcher says Orlando and Las Vegas are exceptions because of the strength of their regions’ tourism economies. The Raiders are building a 65,000-seat, $1.8 billion indoor stadium at Interstate 15 and Russell Road using $750 million of public money authorized by the Nevada Legislature. Las Vegas has a leg up on many cities, because it has an airport at which business people can catch a nonstop flight to virtually any domestic destination. Panelist Cathy Tull, chief marketing officer of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said the presence of out-of-town media for playoff games featuring the Vegas Golden Knights has given the city media mentions that money can’t buy. Another issue receiving the panel’s attention is the need for mass transit with all the teams, venues and anticipated visitation they will generate. Panelists also discussed the prospect of attracting big events like the Super Bowl, the NFL draft and NCAA tournaments.
Reggie Mckenzie On Raiders First Draft Pick
Raiders general manager Reggie Mckenzie on Raiders first draft pick.
Vegas Nation: First Round NFL Draft Pick
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond, Review-Journal writer Gilbert Manzano and Raiders beat writer Michael Gelhken go over the first round of the NFL draft picks and the Raiders choices.
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like