The time has come for the Las Vegas Raiders to look at the long-term outlook of the quarterback position. The changing of the guard at the position facilitates itself to a sustained look at the position.
And that’s regardless of landing a veteran option such as Tom Brady.
Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler is adamant about building a sustainable winner in Las Vegas and a big component of that is drafting well and developing said prospects — something I’ve noted the team hasn’t done every well in the past, earlier this week.
But Ziegler is grappling with the long-term and short-term. Raiders owner Mark Davis is forgiving for Year 1, but he won’t be as lenient in Year 2. That means Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels must field a winner in 2023 — their Silver & Black tenure depends on it.
There’s an unquestioned immediate, short-term, need at the position. Jarrett Stidham, who started the final two games in Derek Carr’s stead, is an unrestricted free agent and it’s unclear the interest on both sides of a reunion for 2023. Carr will either be released or traded meaning Las Vegas has a glaring hole at the signal caller position.
There are potential “quick fix” options such as signing a veteran like Brady. He’s in the twilight of a storied career but is still capable. And his familiarity with Josh McDaniels’ offensive scheme dating back to their respective tenures with the New England Patriots. Ditto for fellow veteran Jimmy Garoppolo, another quarterback who is well-versed in the McDaniels’ offense. Those two would be on the pricier end, however.
There are also the “bridge” options such as bringing back Stidham or signing another familiar face for McDaniels in Jacoby Brissett. Like Brady and Garoppolo, Brissett spent time in New England operating the Patriots offense orchestrated by McDaniels. Of that group, Brissett spent the least time immersed in it as he was traded to the Indianapolis Colts after his rookie season. These two would be on the cheaper, fiscally responsible end.
There are a variety of reports noting McDaniels isn’t keen on starting a rookie quarterback and instead wants to roll with a veteran as his starter. That’s all fine and dandy, but regardless of what the Raiders do on the free agency market, sustainability means cultivating talent from the draft pool. The 2023 NFL Draft quarterback prospects along with the Raiders owning the No. 7 and No. 38 overall selections lends itself to a scenario where Las Vegas picks one and has him sit and learn behind an established veteran. That’s a valuable experience, especially for a young signal caller seeing up close and personal how to execute McDaniels scheme.
Alabama’s Bryce Young and Kentucky’s Will Levis are the two oft one-two quarterbacks off the board in mock drafts. So potentially, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud or Florida’s Anthony Richardson will be available for the picking. Or Las Vegas could look at Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker in the second or third rounds, respectively. There’s mid- to late-round options such as Stanford’s Tanner McKee, BYU’s Jaren Hall, and Georgia’s Stetson Bennett, amongst others. Any prospect would test the Raiders’ ability to scout, draft, and develop skills thoroughly, which is a must-happen.
But snagging a quarterback this upcoming draft — especially in the first two rounds — is more advantageous to the Raiders due to simply where they’re picking this year.
With a veteran at quarterback in 2023, the ideal-state scenario has Las Vegas winning more games. The byproduct of that is dropping the Raiders much lower in the draft order. That theoretically knocks the team out of the running for a top-tier quarterback prospect in the 2024 draft. Of course, Las Vegas could always trade up, but that means parting with other draft assets.