ALAMEDA -- By Raiders standards, the immediate aftermath of the 2012 season qualifies as stability.
Coach Dennis Allen remains in charge of the on-field operation after going 4-12, with general manager Reggie McKenzie running the personnel department, managing the finances and reporting to managing partner Mark Davis.
"I'm in this for the long-term," Allen said at his season-ending news conference Monday. "I'm in this to build it the right way, and I'm excited about looking to the future and where this organization is going to go."
Fans who pined for the Jon Gruden fantasy to materialize should prepare for a more simple reality: McKenzie and Allen rolling up their sleeves and embarking on year two.
In some ways, the second year will be a lot like the first -- lots of changes to the roster.
"I know we have some guys that are going to be the core of what we want and the type of players we want," Allen said. "I also know we've got some work to do to get more of those types of players."
Those players will be found within a budget, because McKenzie does not believe in running up huge salary cap overages as Al Davis did, and the Raiders are believed to be close to the projected $121 million figure for 2013.
McKenzie told reporters Nov. 30 the Raiders would be in position "to do some things" but lamented he didn't see being able to bring aboard a big-ticket free agent in the way the Packers did with Charles Woodson when he was
That means that players with salaries that appear to exceed their production are candidates to be traded or released. McKenzie is currently without second- and fifth-round draft picks.
With that in mind, don't be surprised of McKenzie deals the No. 3 overall pick to pick up additional ones.
Middle linebacker Rolando McClain, scheduled to make $4 million, will be released when it makes the most sense with regard to the salary cap.
Others whose financial commitments could be an issue include wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey ($7,721,000 salary) and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly ($6.5 million salary, with potential bonuses up to $9.4 million).
The departure of offensive coordinator Greg Knapp appears to put running back Darren McFadden ($5.63 million) on safer ground, provided the new coordinator is committed to blocking schemes behind which McFadden can flourish.
"I like Darren. I think he's a good running back," Allen said. "He's an explosive player, and I think he can continue to produce in the future."
However, McFadden is in the final year of his contract, and if another team wanted to gamble on his production and health during a contract year, McKenzie would no doubt listen. With just the last year of bonus proration on his contract, McFadden's departure would create a cap savings of more than $3 million.
The biggest salary belongs to quarterback Carson Palmer ($13 million), but a contract renegotiation last season makes moving him almost impossible with a cap hit of some $17 million. He's likely the quarterback for at least two more seasons, with Terrelle Pryor essentially securing the backup job with his performance against San Diego.
Allen said he and McKenzie have talked for the past few weeks about which of their 17 unrestricted free agents the Raiders will attempt to keep, and an educated guess would be that defensive tackle Desmond Bryant, tight end Brandon Myers, linebacker Philip Wheeler and possibly defensive end Andre Carter are on that list.
Among those whose price tags make it likely they'll be playing elsewhere next season are defensive tackle Richard Seymour and punter Shane Lechler.
Seymour missed half the season with a hamstring strain. Lechler had his least effective season in a decade, and the Raiders kept a punter, Marquette King, on injured reserve all season to compete for a job in 2013.
With several other unrestricted free agents, including tackle Khalif Barnes, safety Matt Giordano and defensive end Matt Shaughnessy, it could go either way, depending on what the coaching staff thinks and if they would rather stay or get a fresh start elsewhere.
Among the starters or those who saw significant playing time last season who could be considered "core" players are left tackle Jared Veldheer, center Stefen Wisniewski, wide receiver Rod Streater and fullback Marcel Reece.
Allen also made note of the absence of Jacoby Ford, on injured reserve after foot surgery, as a reason the return game sagged in 2012.
Receiver Denarius Moore could also be a part of the future, although he was part of the previous regime and McKenzie won't be shy about trading a talent for draft picks to form his own roster.
On defense, left end Lamarr Houston, linebacker Miles Burris and safeties Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch are on firm ground.
"Players make plays, and the best teams are able at some point to hand the keys to the car over to the players, and they're able to run the program the way it needs to be run," Allen said. "We're not at that point, but we're developing that every day."
In terms of scheme, Allen feels good about the direction of the defense after its strong finish. Over the last four games, the Raiders were second in total defense, tied for fifth in rushing defense, sixth in net passing yards, seventh in third-down percentage and ninth in sacks.
Given Allen's history as a defensive coach, landing a quality offensive coordinator could go a long way toward determining his future as Raiders coach.