Aaron Rodgers is the pipe dream splash. Jarett Stidham, Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo are the more logical fits both financially and, more importantly, philosophically.
But after all those aforementioned quarterbacks, the pickings in free agency gets mighty thin for the Las Vegas Raiders. Rodgers, of course, would be a trade that requires draft assets to be sent the Green Bay Packers way — making it a difficult proposition.
Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler is keen to say he wants to build via the draft and supplement the roster via free agency. That hints to keeping hold of dear draft capital to use on creating a long-term sustainable makeup in the desert, not trading them away for short-term success.
But, beyond the trio of Stidham, Brissett, and Garoppolo — in no particular order, mind you — the free agent options for the Silver & Black are silver and bleak. First, the list below won’t include Lamar Jackson, Daniel Jones, or Geno Smith. It’s difficult to see the Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, or Seattle Seahawks, respectively, allowing the trio of signal callers hit the open market.
Let’s take a look at the unrestricted free agent options (in no particular order):
Baker Mayfield: The first overall pick split his time last season between the Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Rams compiling a combined 2-8 record with 2,163 yards passing to go with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He completed 60 percent of his throws in 2022 and infamously beat the Raiders with the Rams. The soon-to-be 28 year old has starting experience (72 career games, 69 starts) but has regressed since the 2020 season after being the No. 1 pick in 2018. He’s an aggressive bridge-type quarterback with a ton of moxie at this point, however, Smith did show a signal caller can rebound.
Sam Darnold: Speaking of rebounds, taken just two picks after Mayfield in 2018, Darnold was given the chance to bounce back with the Carolina Panthers in 2022. It didn’t go swimmingly. While he did help guide the team to a 4-2 record from Week 12 to 17 throwing for 1,143 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions, his 58.5 percent completion rate signifies the work he needs to do. But he’s only 25, has played in 56 career games (55 starts) and the upside (fast disappearing) is still there.
Teddy Bridgewater: At 30 years old, this 2014 first rounder is the epitome of game-manager and care-taker at this point of his career. But maybe the 2023 Raiders don’t need more than that? Bridgewater is smart, can evade pressure when asked, and can distribute he ball to playmakers. His 2022 stat line wasn’t impressive — 683 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions in five games, two of those starts — but his career completion rate of 66.4 percent is attractive. He’s played in 78 career games with 65 starts.
Taylor Heinicke: Captain Moxie this soon-to-be 30-year-old undrafted free agent is. He’s likely back with the Washington Commanders but when Heinicke is thrust into the starting spot, he wills the team to wins. He went 5-3-1 last season with Washington (1,859 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions) and completed 62.2 percent of his passes. He can improvise and run the plays as called. Heinicke has 33 career games under his belt with 25 starts at a career 63.9 completion percentage.
Gardner Minshew: Bursting onto the scene in 2019 as a sixth round pick with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Minshew played sparingly for the Philadelphia Eagles as a backup last season. He played in two games (the only losses the Eagles suffered) an d threw for 633 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Minshew as played in 32 games (24 starts) and has 44 career touchdowns to 15 interceptions and is 26 years old.
Others: Andy Dalton; Kyle Allen; Mike White; Easton Stick; Joe Flacco; Nick Mullens; Trace McSorely
As you can see from the group above, the best route may be a bridge-type and drafting a quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft — in early, mid, or late rounds. And potentially reexplore the position in the 2024 draft. Currently, the only quarterback on the Raiders roster pre-free agency and pre-draft is undrafted free agent Chase Garbers (Cal).