What the Oakland Raiders Should Do with Terrelle Pryor
Actually, I'll admit that this headline is a little misleading: It's obvious the Oakland Raiders need to trade talented third-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor—perhaps as soon as possible.
This probably is not a popular sentiment right now among Raiders fans, myself included.
They (we) have seen glimpses of what Pryor can do with his arm and his legs. He's indisputably the most talented quarterback on the roster from a physical standpoint.
Also, with the recent proliferation of the read-option in the NFL, he seems like an ideal candidate to make that trend work for Oakland, while other teams figure out how to stop it.
Unfortunately, all of these potential-based arguments ignore the many indications this offseason that general manager Reggie McKenzie wants to take the Raiders' offense in a completely different direction.
The biggest three are quarterbacks the Raiders have added through free agency and the draft.
Based on his contract and his ever-important Green Bay roots, Matt Flynn is the current favorite to start in Week 1. While he has mediocre arm strength, he has demonstrated decent-to-good accuracy on short and intermediate passes, as well as, importantly, competent decision-making.
In Green Bay, he demonstrated a willingness (a preference, one could argue, after looking at the tape) to dump off to his running backs, rather than force throws into coverage.
These traits indicate that the Raiders probably will have Flynn execute a West Coast offense that stretches the field horizontally with short passes and features plenty of targets for backs Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece.
And, if Flynn isn't capable of moving the chains in such a scheme, rookie Tyler Wilson already has started to show that he's worthy of the No. 1 job. Wilson shined with his arm strength and accuracy during Oakland's rookie minicamp, as NBC Bay Area and other media outlets reported.
He's essentially a more physically gifted version of Flynn. It's perfectly reasonable to predict that Wilson's now being groomed to take over the offense as soon as the team deems him ready (likely by the end of Flynn's two-year contract).
Finally, in a more under-the-radar move, Oakland announced on May 16 that they had signed undrafted Penn State rookie Matthew McGloin, who offers a skill set similar to Flynn's and Wilson's. On the back of a quality tryout, he signed a three-year deal, according to Citizensvoice.com.
All of these developments—particularly Oakland's drafting of Wilson in the fourth round—clearly mean one thing: The Raiders don't figure Pryor to be their future at quarterback.
Pryor has not helped his case during organized team activities. NBC Bay Area reported that Pryor's passes still look wobbly and off-target compared to those of his competitors.
At this point, Pryor does not have the skill set or the public backing by the team to make him a realistic competitor to start at quarterback anytime soon. If he sticks around this season, he figures to be at best an occasional change of pace, perhaps to run a handful of read-option or Wildcat plays each game.
It may be that McKenzie and Co. want to keep Pryor around just in case injuries decimate his competitors, so that the team has a decent emergency fall-back starter with starting experience. But the only plausible scenario where Pryor gets major snaps over the two seasons is where both Flynn and Wilson are hurt and/or drastically less productive than he is—which, let's be honest, is pretty unlikely to occur.
Pryor has too much ability simply to warm the bench. Oakland must make a decision fairly soon about what to do with him, and options abound.
He conceivably could switch to another position. His frame (6'4", 233 lbs.) and speed (4.36 40-yard-dash time at his supplemental draft workout) suggests he could be a wide receiver, provided he can develop his hands.
However, if he resists a position change and wants to prove himself at quarterback, the team must do their best to deal him to a team that could use his full panoply of abilities.
The Raiders might maximize Pryor's trade value with a more immediate deal.
The team still publicly considers Pryor a candidate to start, and a move now would allow him to go through training camp with a new team and a new offensive system, thereby making him more likely to contribute this season as a backup.
That said, given McKenzie's apparent preference to be patient in making personnel moves, Oakland also might wait until the preseason wraps up—thereby allowing the most opportunity to show off Pryor's abilities—before they finally cut ties.
Either way, the Raiders would be foolish not to get some long-term contribution from Pryor—even if that ends up being a mid-to-low-round future draft pick.
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