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Raiders post-NFL Combine mailbag

Matt Holder answers Raider Nation’s questions

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NFL Combine
Anthony Richardson, CJ Stroud
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The NFL Draft is less than two months away for the Las Vegas Raiders and the rest of the league, and now we have even more information on draft prospects as the NFL Combine wrapped up last weekend. The Raiders' search for their next starting quarterback intensified as Florida’s Anthony Richardson, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud and Kentucky’s Will Leivs all put on a show in Indianapolis.

Unsurprisingly, quarterback questions have dominated our mailbag segment this week as we’re getting close to putting the pieces of the puzzle together under center for the Silver and Black.

[If you have questions you’d like to have answered on next week’s mailbag, either tweet them at me, @MHolder95, or email them to]

Question: Given the current situation at QB, do you think the Raiders are making a huge mistake by not pursuing Lamar Jackson? I’m probably in the minority here, but I think 400 [million] guaranteed over 15 years + compensation would be worth it.

Answer: I’ll assume the 15-year, $400 million is more and tongue and cheek, partially because that’d “only” be about $27 million per year and 15 years is a baseball contract, lol.

But, to address the Lamar Jackson situation, the Raiders' interest will depend on how much guaranteed money Jackson is looking for. The rumor is he’s looking for something similar to Deshaun Watson’s five-year, $230 million FULLY GUARANTEED contract which is more in line with the type of deals NBA players receive versus the NFL.

If that’s the only contract Jackson will accept, then I’d stay away. Part of the reason why NFL owners don’t like fully guaranteed contracts is football is a violent sport where injuries are more common than in basketball. A player missing one week or game in the NFL equates to 5.9 percent of the season versus 3.7 percent in the NBA, assuming a team plays three games in a week. So even a minor injury has a greater impact on the season as a whole.

Jackson hasn’t started a full season in his career and has missed 10 regular-season games over the last two years, the majority of which have come in December and January. That’s a lot of money to give a quarterback who has been out for crunch time over the last couple of years, especially with a contract that isn’t flexible since it’s fully guaranteed.

The two first-round picks the Raiders would have to give up — since the Ravens applied the non-exclusive franchise tag to Jackson — aren’t that much of a deterrent for me because the former MVP is worth that, in my opinion.

Ultimately, my hesitation with Lamar is rooted in what type of contract he’s looking for. If he wants the Watson deal, stay away, but if he’s willing to concede some guaranteed money, it’s worth seeing what type of deal he’ll agree to.

Q: What would Raider Nation grade [Dave] Ziegler‘s QB drafting/FA results based on the QB he decides upon? I.e. A=Stroud, B=Def impact player with 1st pick then get Hooker with next Pick, C=Levis, Richardson, Rogers, D=Lamar because of $$/injuries, F=Any current or Ex-Patriots. Raiders thoughts?

A: I can’t speak for the entire fanbase but here’s my take.

Getting CJ Stroud would be the best possible scenario where the Raiders get a quarterback of the future who is cheap and still good enough to keep the team competitive and, perhaps even more importantly, keep Davante Adams happy. To me, Stroud will be ready to start in Week 1, and re-signing Jarrett Stidham as a backup gives the team a failsafe.

I think the second-best option would be to sign a veteran like Jimmy Garoppolo or Jacob Brissett — Stidham could also fall into this category, too. Then, either draft Richardson this year to develop for a year or two, or build out the roster/defense in the draft this year and go all in on one of the quarterbacks in next year’s class. Call this the Alex Smith to Patrick Mahomes plan.

The worst-case scenario is Zielger and co. strike out in free agency and at trading up in the draft, forcing them to settle for Levis with the seventh overall pick. Not that Levis is a bad quarterback by any means, but it’s pretty much the consensus that he’s the fourth-best signal-caller in this draft class, and he could potentially use some time to develop.

In my opinion, Raiders fans should be happy about either of the first two scenarios but the last would be worrisome.

Q: Matt, who do you think is the quarterback the Raiders are more interested in the upcoming draft?

A: To be clear, this is based on my gut and not inside information; Stroud, Richardson and Levis, in that order.

The glaring omission is Bryce Young, who I think will likely be out of reach for Las Vegas and I don’t think Josh McDaniels is all that interested in Young in the first place. McDaniels did say in Indianapolis that he’s open to bringing in a smaller quarterback and praised Young specifically. But, think about it, is the “Patriot way” to publically speak about a guy who they’re interested in drafting, or to potentially try and deceive people through the media to get “their guy”?

Q: Which free-agent linebackers are system fits in [Patrick] Graham’s system? Could the Raiders target Tremaine Edmunds?

A: Edmunds could definitely fit into Graham’s system as he blossomed in coverage this past season, earning an elite 90.0 PFF coverage grade that led all linebackers. He’s also unique in that he turns 25 years old in May but has five years of experience. The biggest issue is Edmunds is also projected to make $18.75 million per year, according to PFF, and that’s a ton of money.

Lavonte David is another name on the open market I’d keep an eye on as he’s been a great coverage linebacker throughout his career and is solid as a run defender, too. However, he just turned 33, so there’s not a ton of future value with him and the last thing the Raiders want to do is shell out a bunch of cash for an older player who is about to decline. They’ve done that plenty in the past.

One “under the radar” name to look out for is Drue Tranquill. He’s somewhat quietly had a good career with the Chargers, especially these past two seasons. Los Angeles is currently restructuring contracts to get out of the red in cap space and make room for the blockbuster deal they're going to give Justin Herbert soon. So, Tranquill could be a cap causality and give the Silver and Black a good coverage backer who likely won’t break the bank.