After quarterback Rich Gannon missed most of the 2004 NFL season with a broken vertebrae in his neck, he decided to hang up his cleats prior to the 2005 season. The 2002 NFL MVP had been a central component of the Oakland Raiders' success in the early 2000s, leading them to the playoffs in 2000 and 2001 and to a Super Bowl appearance in the 2002 season.
Nearly eight and a half years since Gannon announced his retirement, the Raiders are still searching for their next franchise quarterback.
When rookie Matt McGloin started Nov. 17 against the Houston Texans, he became the 15th quarterback to start for the Raiders since Gannon's departure. In a league where strong quarterback performance is imperative to a team's success, the Raiders have yet to find Gannon's replacement. As a result, they're in the midst of their 11th consecutive season without a winning record.
The low point came in 2007, when the late Al Davis fell in love with quarterback JaMarcus Russell's arm strength and selected him first overall in the draft. Davis, whose infatuation with the deep ball never waned, had swung and missed on yet another draft pick. To be fair, 2007 was an unfortunate year to own the No. 1 pick and have a major need at quarterback.
No quarterbacks selected in that draft are currently starting in the NFL, and had the Raiders already found their next franchise quarterback they would have been able to choose from the likes of Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Darrelle Revis, Patrick Willis or Marshawn Lynch with that pick, to name just a few.
While the Raiders now have some nice pieces and a capable head coach in Dennis Allen, they're only going as far as their starting quarterback takes them.
So is this franchise quarterback on the roster right now, or should the Raiders seek to draft or acquire one in the offseason?
While both McGloin and quarterback Terrelle Pryor have looked impressive at times this year, I'm inclined to agree with Gannon's opinion on the subject.
"I don't know if the starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders is on that team right now for next year," Gannon said this past week on Bay Area radio station 95.7 The Game. "I think regardless of what happens in the next three games that the Raiders are going to be in the quarterback market."
The Raiders' two options in the offseason are to either acquire a quarterback like Kirk Cousins of the Washington Redskins via trade or use their projected top-five pick in the 2014 NFL draft to add one. With that top-five pick, they'll likely be able to select either Derek Carr of Fresno State or Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M.
While Cousins would be a heavy favorite to start Week 1 for the Raiders, either Carr or Manziel would likely compete with McGloin and Pryor for the job in training camp. While the Raiders' 18th-ranked defense could certainly use some help, their inconsistency at quarterback has persisted for far too long.
If the Raiders do decide to add a quarterback in the offseason, Raiders fans will have to hope that No. 16 is their lucky number.
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