Is Walter The Man?
Let's face it. The QB market for 2006 is very limited. No matter which direction the Raider organization turns there is going to be a risk involved. Drew Brees inked a lucrative deal with New Orleans today. Miami traded a 2nd round pick for Daunte Culpepper. Kitna officially signed with Detroit today. There are no team visits planned yet for McCown, Ramsey, or Griese. It is difficult to get a sense of what are the best options for the Silver and Black.
Here is a breakdown of some of the viable choices and possible paths to consider;
Josh McCown - I like McCown's energy and moxie. He is physically gifted, can make all the throws and most importantly, McCown plays with passion and desire. McCown acquitted himself fairly well in Arizona when given the opportunity to start. McCown is definitely at the top of my list. I'm just wondering why he hasn't been scheduled to meet with Al Davis and Art Shell.
Patrick Ramsey - Young and unproven QB who visited the NY Jets. Ramsey is a tough QB who has a cannon for an arm but a limited number of starts. In my view, if Ramsey is signed by the Raiders then he should compete with Walter in training camp and let the best man win.
Aaron Brooks - Brooks should be cut by New Orleans within the next 24 hours now that Brees is on board. Brooks is an athletic QB; mobile, good arm strength but questionable decision making skills. Brooks might be the type of QB who really benefits from a change of scenery and a fresh start in Oakland.
Brian Griese - Tampa Bay might re-sign Griese while the Chicago Bears consider signing Griese to compete with Rex Grossman.
Gus Frerotte - Journeyman, game manager who could be a stop gap measure until Walter is ready to take the helm.
Steve McNair - Tough, mobile leader with possibly 2 good years left in the tank. If Tennessee decides to move up in the draft to snatch Leinart, the Titans would probably cut bait with McNair and allow Billy Volek to become a temporary starter until Leinart is ready for the #1 spot.
Bret Favre - Very unlikely that Favre will join any other team but the Packers. Long shot, fantasy at best.
Matt Leinart - The most polished and game ready QB in the draft. Excellent decision-maker, accurate passer, and proven winner. Has the poise and leadership abilities to be a top QB in the league for many years to come. Look for the Jets and Titans to battle it out to swap picks with the Saints. Give the inside edge to the Jets to make a splash on draft day unless Titans' offensive coordinator Norm Chow has a say in the matter. Has Al Davis been playing possum in respects to his interest in Leinart? Does he see Leinart as the second coming of Kenny Stabler? I wouldn't put it past Davis to consider working a behind the scenes trade for the #2 pick.
Jay Cutler - Cutler would seem to be a natural fit for Tennessee if the Titans lose out in the Leinart sweepstakes. Cutler could also fall into the Raiders lap with the 7th pick. Would it make sense to have Cutler and Walter battle in camp for the right to lead the team? I say no. If you are going to go for a QB in the draft, he needs to be head and shoulders above Walter to make such a decision.
Vince Young - A real wild-card. Young was interviewed by the Raiders at the combine. Will the loser of the Leinart sweepstakes (NY or Tennessee) take Young or Cutler? In the case of Tennessee, you could make an argument that all of the QBs in the 1st round are viable options. Leinart has the connection to Norm Chow from their days together at USC. Cutler had a very impressive combine performance plus he played his college ball for Vanderbilt in the state of Tennessee. Young already has a personal and mentoring relationship with Steve McNair and could be viewed as his logical successor.
Kerry Collins - "Don't ask, don't tell" This is the QB option that the entire dues paying members of the Raider Nation are dreading. Collins being re-signed would be a PR disaster of epic proportions. The Raiders would have a very difficult time spinning the reasons for bringing him back especially when you take into account his record, unpopularity, and the fact that this is the 1st year the Raiders organization is responsible for selling tickets.
(I say a prayer each night that Baltimore signs KFC)
Marques Tuiosopo - Was given a 1 game tryout last year vs. the Jets and failed miserably. Tui is not a viable option. He doesn't have the skill set that Al Davis desires. For Tui's sake, he should be given his release to hook on with another team that runs the west coast offense. Reuniting with Gruden in Tampa Bay makes the most sense.
Andrew Walter - Is Walter going to be given the opportunity to compete to be the man? Would he be ready to lead the team and when? It seems unlikely unless he truly sparkles in training camp and distances himself over a journeyman QB like Frerotte or a drafted QB like Young.
Having sifted through all the rubble, I have pared down my top choices to the following;
Plan A: Sign McCown
Plan B: Aggressively pursue a draft trade to ink Leinart
Plan C: Take a flyer on Brooks with a short-term, incentive laden contract to buy Walter an extra year
Plan D: Bring in Ramsey but have an open competition in camp with Walter
Plan X: Draft Young. Young's talents are quite remarkable. His skill set is similar to Michael Vick. The big question is whether his style of play and physical skills will translate and produce wins at the pro level. If nothing else, it will create excitement and sell tickets.