Quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s days as a member of the Oakland Raiders are numbered. Late owner Al Davis’ last draft pick is so unlikely to remain with the team in 2014; all that’s left is the formality of his exit.
The future at the quarterback position for the Raiders is so uncertain; they may consider drafting a quarterback that doesn’t start in Year 1 at No. 5 overall. The Raiders may also seriously consider signing Josh Freeman in free agency to serve as a bridge to the future.
The only thing that seems certain at this point is that Pryor isn’t part of the Raiders’ plan at quarterback. Considering the three years Pryor has had to develop, he hasn’t been able to produce consistently with his legs and he still has too many deficiencies as a passer.
If it weren’t for his amazing athleticism, this move would have come much earlier. The Raiders are wisely moving on from Pryor while planning to add a franchise quarterback in the near future.
The Raiders are actively shopping Terrelle Pryor. Good luck with that.— Aaron Nagler (@Aaron_Nagler) February 23, 2014
Bleacher Report’s Lead Video Producer Aaron Nagler reported over the weekend that the Raiders are actively shopping Pryor. Almost simultaneously, owner Mark Davis suggested that Pryor might not be with the Raiders going forward.
“The two guys that we've got, Terrelle (Pryor) and Matt (McGloin), are young guys that still need experience,” Davis told Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Whether they get that here or not is to be seen.”
With relative certainty, we know the Raiders don’t have a long-term answer at the position on the roster. When it comes to having a backup quarterback, it makes a lot more sense to have one that can do many of the same things as the starter so the team doesn’t have to run two different offenses.
McGloin may not be the long-term answer, but the Raiders seem to like him enough to keep him around in a back-up capacity. Pryor presents a Tebow-like problem for the Raiders, one that they must get away from if they are to be successful in 2014 and beyond.
This has probably been the Raiders’ plan for quite some time. The Raiders gave Pryor a start in Week 17 to evaluate him, but that was really a start so other teams could evaluate him. In a lost season, the Raiders were willing to roll with Pryor for a game hoping and praying they could get something for him in trade this offseason.
Realistically, the Raiders would be lucky to get a late-round draft choice for Pryor. It’s such a deep draft that teams are likely to be stingy with their late-round picks, especially those that don’t have the resources to sign a lot of undrafted free agents.
If the Raiders can’t trade Pryor, the next logical step is to release him shortly after the draft. Until then, the Raiders will wisely try to squeeze any value his athleticism still holds around the league.
General manager Reggie McKenzie has said on multiple occasions that forcing a quarterback in the first round is a bad way to find a quarterback solution. It’s a sentiment that head coach Dennis Allen has echoed.
Davis also shares the philosophy, so the Raiders’ leadership appears to be on the same page when it comes to the most important decision they will make this year at the most important position on the field. This is notable because the owner, general manager and head coach in Oakland haven’t always agreed. Davis continued by stating:
So, the way I look at it is you can't force it. If there is a guy there at No. 5 in the draft that you really believe can be your franchise quarterback - and he doesn't have to be your franchise quarterback this year, but somebody that will be in the next year or two - then you think about it. But if not, then pick another guy who is going to be a leader for your organization.
The Raiders are obviously doing their due diligence on this class of quarterbacks, but it’s about a lot more than their on-field play. The Raiders don’t just need a quarterback; they need a face of the franchise.
The Raiders need a leader.
Drafting at No. 5, with quarterback-needy teams ahead of them in the draft order, there is no guarantee the Raiders are going to find the quarterback who fits their needs.
Most projections have Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles going early in the first round. The quarterback expected to be fourth off the board is former Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr at some point in the late first round, per CBSSports.
It’s likely that at least one of the top three quarterbacks is available when the Raiders pick at No. 5, but the Raiders can’t afford to spend resources to make sure they get their top quarterback. What this means for the Raiders is that they will have to hope the player they like falls, but not force a quarterback if he doesn’t.
It’s possible the Raiders could be comfortable drafting two of the three top quarterbacks, but there is still no guarantee they will be available at No. 5. The Raiders have to have contingency plans, because not drafting a quarterback leaves the team with even fewer good options at the position.
One possibility is that the Raiders move down in the draft. The Minnesota Vikings are a potential trading partner because they are in desperate need of a quarterback and might like the available option at No.5. The Raiders could drop down three spots to No. 8, still get a player they like and pick up extra picks.
The traditional draft trade value chart puts the difference at 300 points between pick No. 5 and No. 8, per OurLads, so the Raiders would more than get their value back by either getting the Vikings’ second round-pick, 40th overall, or their two third-round picks, 72nd and 96th overall.
Such a trade would give the Raiders the firepower to trade up and grab Carr in the late first round, or to use those picks to build around a veteran until a franchise quarterback can be located. The Raiders obviously need to add a young quarterback at some point, but it could be appealing to simply stockpile picks.
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If the Raiders, for example, believe that all the quarterbacks in this class should preferably sit for a year, it would make perfect sense if they decided to use all the resources to improve the lackluster roster in other areas.
“Everybody that is winning has a quarterback,” Davis told Tafur. “But there are different ways to go about getting one. The Colts drafted Andrew Luck and built their team around him. Denver had the infrastructure and then plugged Peyton Manning in there. Kansas City, same thing. They had everything set up but just didn't have the quarterback—they were actually inept the year before and we beat them twice.”
McKenzie and Allen could opt to set the table instead of giving a rookie a few scraps and hoping he can cook up enough wins to save their jobs. It’s probably the most logical of the options, but it requires the Raiders to go out and find a veteran starter this offseason, which is not an easy task.
Part of the reason Freeman is an option for the Raiders is his familiarity with offensive coordinator Greg Olson from their time together in Tampa Bay. The relationship resulted in Freeman’s best play as a professional, so a reunion could appeal to him.
There are also other options, not all of which are that bad.
The Raiders could bring back Josh McCown, who played well in relief of Jay Cutler in Chicago last season. McCown is a system quarterback, which could work for the Raiders for a year if they give him enough weapons to be successful.
There is also quarterback Michael Vick but signing him doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense after trading or releasing Pryor. It’s likely that the Raiders aren’t interested in a quarterback that needs to rely heavily on their legs to be successful.
Good options are scarce, but there is one quarterback who should become available that would be a good fit—Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. For whatever reason, Schaub fell out of favor with the Texans last season, but he’s not a terrible quarterback.
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Schaub has $10 million in base salary in 2014, according to Spotrac, and $1 million per game he is active. In other words, Schaub is certainly going to become available especially because the Texans will probably take a quarterback No. 1 overall.
The great thing about Schaub is that he’s a good mentor to young quarterbacks, so the Raiders should be able to bring one in to sit for a year behind him with good results. Schaub isn’t the most exciting option, but he may be the best option for the Raiders in 2014.
While Pryor may be fun to watch, the Raiders have run out of time to develop him. Pryor has also run out of time to turn himself into a viable starting quarterback.
McGloin is nothing more than a backup option at this point, but he showed enough as a rookie to merit further development. Many people forget that McGloin was a rookie while Pryor was in his third year in 2014.
If the Raiders want to turn thing around, they have to find a viable starting quarterback. That could be in the draft, free agency or both. Keep close tabs on Carr and Schaub, as their pairing makes a lot of sense for the Raiders in 2014.