ALAMEDA, Calif. -- General manager Reggie McKenzie told the local media Thursday that he saw the Raiders as "a different 4-12 team" in 2013, and that he is looking forward to operating with a full draft and salary cap room this year.
He also outlined some of his philosophies and ideas regarding the future.
Although a six-game losing streak to close out the season gave the Raiders the same won-lost record as in 2012, McKenzie didn't see it as the same product.
The running game was better, McKenzie said, and the team was more competitive, particularly early in the season. McKenzie conceded the defense was smaller, short on depth and wore down in November, having trouble on third down.
"But the overall play was better in 2013, if you're comparing," McKenzie said.
More items addressed by McKenzie in an approximately 45-minute news conference:
-- An agreement was being finalized with special teams coordinator Bobby April, who joins defensive coordinator Jason Tarver and offensive line coach/assistant head coach Tony Sparano as returning assistants on coach Dennis Allen's staff.
-- Areas that need improvement are everywhere.
"Biggest need? We have biggest needs, with an 's'," McKenzie said.
He included the quarterback position in that assessment. McKenzie cited Terrelle Pryor's inconsistency as an issue, and while he liked Matt McGloin's ability to get the ball out quickly, the G.M. said his decision-making down the stretch was a problem.
Asked about the possibility of drafting Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, McKenzie said, "He's a playmaker. . .. Whether it's him or any of these other guys, when you can add a playmaker to your team, that's what you're shooting for."
However, McKenzie also said he wants a veteran presence (currently Trent Edwards) at the position and ideally wouldn't start a rookie at quarterback.
-- McKenzie sounded as if key unrestricted free agents Lamarr Houston, Jared Veldheer, Charles Woodson and Rashad Jennings will all be pursued, and discussions are under way with the agents for all players.
Running back Darren McFadden looks destined to hit the open market.
"His agent has no idea what his market value will be, and I couldn't tell you what the other 31 teams think," McKenzie said.
McKenzie would prefer a long-term deal for Veldheer or Houston rather than using the franchise tag.
-- On the Raiders' approach to free agency with the possibility of being as much as $50 million under the salary cap, McKenzie said: "We're going to do things that make sense. Just because I have $5 in my pocket, that doesn't mean I have to spend all of it on junk."
-- Thoughts relayed to him in postseason discussions with owner Mark Davis: "He saw some progress in some areas, absolutely, but still, it's the bottom line, and like myself, Mark wants some better results."
-- Why he stayed silent while the job status of Allen was an open debate as the season came to a close: "I wasn't going to add fuel to just to put out a fire that wasn't there. I hate that stuff has to get thrown around," McKenzie said.
-- McKenzie said his first two drafts, which haven't brought much immediate production, will be better assessed down the road.
"We'll be better able to assess them in the next year to a year-and-a-half what they can do and who they truly are as players," he said.
-- With so many late-round draft picks and undrafted players assuming starting roles, McKenzie conceded it illustrated the lack of overall talent on the 2013 roster.
"Definitely we lack some talent in some areas, no question," McKenzie said.
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