As Raider Nation settles into the offseason, there are more than a few topics for the team to deal with, including re-signing key free agents Richard Seymour and Sebastian Janikowski (which as of this writing is rumored to be a done deal), finding impact players in the April draft, and hopefully finding some solid free agents to add to the roster.
Another issue of note, considering the past season, is who the starting quarterback will be next season. The debate has centered on the assumption that it will either be Jamarcus Russell or Bruce Gradkowski.
However, that debate may be a moot point, since the only quarterback currently signed to a contract is Jamarcus Russell.
Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye, and late season addition J.P. Losman are all free to seek employment elsewhere, and it’s not a foregone conclusion that they’ll be back with the Raiders. With several starting quarterbacks possibly retiring (Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, Marc Bulger) and several others likely being demoted if replacements can be found, other teams will be looking.
Backups that performed well will get a good look, including those that were on the Raiders roster last season.
Gradkowski has said publicly that he’d like to be back with the Raiders if he can compete for the starting role. However, with very solid performances after being named the starter, if he’s not convinced that Al Davis will let that happen, better opportunities may be available.
Charlie Frye was solid when called upon, but injury prone. Using his mobility to allow receivers to get free to make plays, the offense moved the ball well when Frye was in the game, though he was only able to finish one of his four starts.
Frye either needs to be behind a better O-line for his own protection, or learn to get rid of the ball faster. Frye is a solid backup, but with his injury record I wouldn’t count on him to play through an entire season.
Former Buffalo Bills QB J.P. Losman was only in for a few plays, but after winning the UFL championship with Las Vegas Locomotives, there are undoubtedly teams that will take another look.
As much as Raider Nation wants to see JaMarcus Russell either leave or make astounding leaps in his development, the decision-maker is obviously Al Davis, who has clearly decided to give Russell more opportunities. He’s also the only quarterback under contract for 2010.
If I had to guess at this early stage, I’d look for JaMarcus Russell to be the starting quarterback to begin the 2010 season, simply based on Al Davis’ unwillingness to admit his own culpability in drafting him, not to mention the money he’s already forked out.
I think Al Davis is more likely to double-down than to fold.