Frye Brings Gutsy Insurance To QB Position

Al's WingmanAnalyst IJune 11, 2009

When a free agent visits the Oakland Raiders, he can expect a straightforward approach.  You arrive at team HQ, are greeted and given a short orientation, then guided to the training room for a medical evaluation.

You are handed workout clothes befitting the franchise.  From there you are walked to a locker room.  Afterwards, perhaps given some prep or some other classroom type instruction as what the workout will be like and then out onto the practice field where you work out under the instruction of the coaches.

Reverse the process when you leave.

Not everyone gets to meet Al Davis.  You know if Al wants to meet you then you are a step ahead of the other free agents who have come for visits.  If Lord Al requests your presence that means he wants to personally evaluate you.  Specifically, he wants to know about your knowledge and commitment to being a Raider.

Such was the case with Charlie Frye.  Jeff Garcia was not invited to meet Al.

While we can't read too much into Garcia's case, we can speculate it is because Garcia is a known commodity.  His career started locally in Gilroy, Calfornia.  He got his shot at San Jose State.  He didn’t get an NFL opportunity until he played in the CFL and excelled, catching the attention of the San Francisco 49ers.

Let’s not be understated about this.  How many guys go from the CFL to the NFL?

Not many and even fewer end up at the cross-town rival of the Raiders.  This catches Al’s eye and likely, a guffaw “how did I miss that one?” especially since Garcia is a local product.

Garcia was a skinny prospect out of high school and college.  Al likes big, strong armed QBs.

Frye on the other hand, hasn't had the same fortune as Garcia in the NFL.  After an excellent start with the Cleveland Browns and some gritty wins (including a tight game against the Raiders), Frye's career has languished.

Yet Frye is very similar to Garcia in style and approach.  Frye is a vocal and energetic leader, a former skinny guy who made himself into a strong guy with a powerful throw, wheels and a nice touch in traffic.  Like other young players, he is going to make mistakes but as Al and all evaluators know, with the right tutelage and opportunities, you can restore a player's confidence.  Think Jim Plunkett.  Frye was not as highly touted out of college as Plunkett was but Al is no stranger to rehabilitating QBs who have not been successful elsewhere.

This is what makes Frye intriguing.

The thinking being, if Jamarcus Russell can’t fulfill his obligations as a guy who can win games then he is money out the window.  Losing big money has never made a dent in Al's willingness to take risks but if the fallback is to Garcia, the team is left needing a strong #2.  Garcia is an older guy and though he keeps himself in great shape, injury has to be considered a possibility.

If this scenario plays out it could be Frye is the perfect poker chip to bring into the fold.

Frye is considered more dependable insurance than Gradkowski who does not inspire anyone’s confidence.

All things considered, this was the great move to bring in Frye.  Al obviously likes his arm and intangibles. 

Frye has to be happy he’s on a roster.  More importantly, he and Garcia bring urgency to the table as team leaders, something Jamarcus Russell just does not have.

I think Frye will get some snaps and make the most of them in camp this summer.  If that carries over into pre-season I expect Frye to outplay Gradkowski for the third QB spot.

Let's not even bother with Danny Southwick in the equation.  He is there purely as a training camp arm, not to compete for a job.  Andrew Walter is history as soon as the right opportunity presents itself.