Raiders Rumors: Tracking Complex QB Situation in Oakland

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIMarch 15, 2013

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 16: Quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Oakland Raiders passes against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter at Coliseum on December 16, 2012 in Oakland, California. Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

A decade has passed since the Oakland Raiders last made the playoffs—or even had a winning season. With so many questions surrounding the quarterback position entering 2013, an immediate reversal of that trend doesn't seem likely.

Incumbent starter Carson Palmer is due $13 million. CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported back in February that there was "no way" the Raiders would pay him that kind of money to stay.

Adam Schefter of ESPN then reported that the Raiders were attempting to restructure Palmer's contract as of late February. Keeping Palmer for at least another year wouldn't be the worst move, considering the Raiders gave up so much to get him in the first place.

After all, handing the keys to the franchise to unproven, yet intriguingly athletic, QB Terrelle Pryor seems a little bit dicey. Pryor has just one start under his belt, which came in the regular season finale of 2012. Absent any consistent accuracy or evidence of truly grasping how to read NFL defenses, he still seems like a project despite flashes of brilliance.

Just weeks ago, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk cited ESPN's Chris Mortensen, who reported that Oakland is interested in selecting West Virginia Mountaineers star Geno Smith with the third-overall pick in the 2013 draft.

That confirmed the report made nearly a month before by B/R's draft expert Matt Miller:

Considering that Smith ran a 4.59 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine and possesses a pro-caliber arm, seemingly sharp football smarts, solid size and pinpoint accuracy, it could make sense.

Jim Corbett of the USA TODAY documented an exceptional pro day that Smith put on Thursday:

Pairing an athletic quarterback with more passing upside than Pryor alongside a hopefully healthy Darren McFadden would give Oakland a much more explosive offense on paper.

Perhaps that is the thinking behind the latest rumors swirling around the Raiders.

The Raiders are reportedly interested in acquiring former Tennessee Titans Pro Bowler Vince Young, according to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk. He indicated that NFL Network's Ian Rapoport had the original scoop, but that talks are "preliminary."

Young has shown a knack for clutch plays and fourth-quarter comebacks, but has been too inconsistent and played rather poorly for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011. The most recent stint for Young occurred with the Buffalo Bills this past preseason, but he was released before he could even lock up the No. 2 job.

With so many holes elsewhere on the roster, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, the Raiders' best bet may be to keep Palmer—even if they can't restructure his deal.

There simply aren't enough quarterbacks on the free-agent market that are even worth the cheaper investment as a stopgap option.

Plus, Palmer's 2012 campaign wasn't as bad as it's made out to be. He still threw for over 4,000 yards, 22 TDs, 14 INTs and posted an 85.3 passer rating while getting pummeled constantly.

There was no running game to support him, and the Raiders were frequently in obvious passing situations because of that, and the number of points the defense yielded. That's a hard situation for any quarterback, so Palmer does have some leverage.

As Paul Gutierrez of points out, Palmer restructured his deal last offseason. Asking him to do so again may result in Palmer's departure. Oakland will have then lost out on its best short-term option under center.

That is, unless Geno Smith turns out to be the real deal, which is hardly a slam dunk at this point.

A definite dilemma exists at the most vital position for GM Reggie McKenzie, and the riddle may not be solved this year.

The rumor mill will likely continue buzzing until a resolution is reached on one of the most maligned QB situations in all of the NFL.