Who Will Be The Next Raiders QB?
Clearly the two biggest decisions facing the Raiders organization is the hiring of a new head coach and the selection of a starting QB. I realize that I might be jumping the gun by speculating on potential signal callers for the Silver and Black. The QB decision is partly tied to some degree on the type of head coach that is hired by the Raiders. There are also other factors and variables to consider. The availability of some QBs will be based on choices made in the other head coaching vacancies. The salary cap position of some teams will impact the availability of a few QBs. Certainly the upcoming draft will directly effect the QB carousel. I don't pretend to have a crystal ball in front of me but for the sake of having an open forum, here are some of the QB possibilities to consider.
Before I compile my hit list of potential QBs, I think it would be wise to first take a look at the remaining playoff teams QBs. It is important to note that this group of QBs runs the full spectrum in terms of how many years the QB has been in the league, when the QB became a starter, what round the QB was drafted, and whether or not the QB is still with his original team.
Mark Brunnell (Washington; 13 years in the league), Jake Plummer (Denver; 9 yrs.), Jake Delhomme (Carolina; 8 yrs.), and Matt Hasselbeck (Seattle; 7 yrs.) are no longer with the teams that originally drafted them. Ben Rothlisberger (Pittsburgh; 2 yrs.), Rex Grossman (Chicago; 3 yrs.), Tom Brady (New England; 6 yrs.) and Peyton Manning (Indy; 8 yrs.) are with the same team that originally drafted them.
Only Plummer, Manning and Rothlisberger were drafted to become starters in year 1. Grossman has been 1 of 6 QBs that the Bears have started the last few years. Grossman also has the good fortune to be on a team with a dominating, #2 rated defense that is largely responsible for the team's success. Brady was an unknown gem picked up in the 6th round.
The point I'm trying to illustrate is that there is no clear cut way to finding or upgrading your starting QB. 3 of the 4 starting Super Bowl QBs in the Raiders history were hand picked off of other rosters (Daryl Lamonica/Buffalo; Jim Plunkett/S.F.; Rich Gannon/K.C.). Kenny "The Snake" Stabler was groomed to be the starting QB but didn't reach the Super Bowl until his 8th season.
Keeping this in mind, Al and the next head coach have 4 paths that they can take.
-Stick with Kerry Collins
-Go with Andrew Walter
-Trade for or sign an up and coming QB w/4-6 years experience
-Trade for or sign a seasoned vet
The worst possible case scenario is for the Raiders to stick with Kerry Collins. Besides this leading to an outright revolt by the Raider Nation, this is a proven path for L-O-S-I-N-G.
The only time in the Raiders history that they have gone with a young, unproven, drafted QB (Todd Marinovich) led to disastrous results. Is Al willing to roll the dice on Walter? If history is our guide, no. It also wouldn't make sense for the Raiders to try to move up in the draft to take Matt Leinart. Leinart and Walter are very similar in size, skills, and backgrounds. Walter set the Pac 10 record for most career TD passes in 2004 and has the arm strength to stretch the field. Bombs away in 2008.
If the Raiders are going to attempt to sign an up and coming QB with 4-6 years experience then Billy Volek (Tennessee), David Carr (Houston), and David Garrard (Jacksonville) would be on my short list.
Billy Volek (6 years experience; 10 game started; accurate passer; steady but unspectacular performer)
Tennessee could very easily take Vince Young with the 3rd pick in the draft with the intention of McNair grooming him as the heir apparent. There is no conceivable way that the Titans could afford to fit McNair, Volek, and bonus baby VY under the salary cap. As pointed out by an anonymous blogger, Volek was the QB under head coaching candidate Pat Hill at Fresno St.
David Carr (4 years experience; starter since day 1; tough, durable, athletic)
If the Houston Texans give into the ground swell of support to take Vince Young over Reggie Bush with the #1 pick then David Carr could very well fall into the Raiders lap. If the Raiders hire Pat Hill as the Head Coach, look for Davis to aggressively pursue all trade avenues for Carr. Hill was Carr's head coach at Fresno State. The Raiders would need to package draft picks and a starter or two to work this trade.
David Garrard (4 years experience; limited to 8 career starts; mobile, athletic, can make all the throws)
Garrard's stock has risen with his performance the last 5 games of this season. He performed admirably in relief of injured starter Bryan Leftwich by leading the Jaguars to a 4-1 record.
If the Raiders are going to attempt to swing a major trade or sign a seasoned vet, my list would consist of Brett Favre (Green Bay), John Kitna (Cincinnati), Brad Johnson (Minnesota) or Dante Culpepper (Minnesota).
Brett Favre (Hall of Fame credentials)
Brett's situation in Green Bay is dicey. The key to Brett's availability will be who Green Bay hires as their new head coach and the overall direction of the organization. Is the Pack management team trying to push Brett towards the retirement door and how important is it for Brett to retire as a life-long Packer? There is no question that Brett has plenty of bullets left in the chamber. Favre joining the Raiders would have to be considered a major long-shot. Just imagining Brett slinging passes to Moss and Porter in a Silver and Black #4 jersey puts a little extra giddy-up in my step.
John Kitna (2003 comeback player of the year)
Kitna's game management and leadership skills plus mobility would be a big upgrade over Collins. However, with Carson Palmer suffering a major injury vs. Pittsburgh, I could see Cincy re-signing Kitna as an insurance policy.
Brad Johnson (62% career completion; TD/Int ratio: 155/102; Led Bucs to a Super Bowl victory in 2002)
This season's performance was impressive. Johnson took over a Vikings team that had hit rock bottom and orchestrated a 7-2 record in his 9 starts.
Dante Culpepper (All Pro QB with off the charts, physical tools when healthy)
Will the Vikings owner cut bait on Culpepper because of the "Love Boat" incident and re-sign Brad Johnson? Culpepper reuniting with Moss would be electric.
Although the market for QBs is fairly thin this year, I am confident that the Raiders can upgrade the QB position simply by showing Collins the door. Whether it is suffering the initial growing pains of Walter maturing, taking a chance on an unproven young gun, or creatively signing a seasoned vet, the bitter taste in my mouth will be washed away once the Collins era ends.
The Raiders desperately need a QB with the ability to make pre-snap reads, audible out of bad plays, who has pocket awareness, mobility, game management skills, leadership skills, and a passion to win at all costs. Is this asking for too much? Not if your quest is to see another Lombardi Trophy hoisted into the air!
Silver and Black Forever,