Oakland Raiders: All Options On The Table For 2010 Quarterback

D.J. O'ConnorSenior Analyst IIIMarch 3, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 22:  Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable speaks to his new starting quarterback Bruce Gradkowski #5 while newly benched quarterback JaMarcus Russell #2 looks on during their game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 22, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

     Tom Cable announced at an interview at the Scouting Combine that there will be "an open competition for quarterback" and the competition will be between "the guys we have and guys we add".  There was heavy speculation that JaMarcus would be handed the starting job again in 2010, I have thought those stories were crazy since day 1.  The last time that anybody said anything about the Raiders QB situation it was Tom Cable saying that Al Davis said to Cable: "Your the coach, you make the decision."  Cable went with Gradkowski and then Charlie Frye.  Russell was the 3rd string QB the last time I saw the Raiders play.  But now let's take a look at the Raiders options at QB in 2010.

     JaMarcus Russell:   I don't make too many Hannah Montana references, but talk about "the best of both worlds."  A man who was a #1 overall draft pick in 2007 set an NFL record for lowest QB rating in  a single season for 2009 at 50.  He had $32M guarnteed in a contract that now has him in hot water because he said he won't restructure.  But I am sure that you know all about the past so let me talk about the future.  JaMarcus Russell can still be a good QB, but he has a long way to go.  He is 24 years old.  He has been in the NFL for 3 seasons with little, if any, supporting cast.  But age, supporting cast and experience should not be an excuse, I will explain when I get to Bruce Gradkowski.  I will not give up on Russell as long as he is a Raider, but I will continue to criticize him when he plays terrible and fails to win.  At this time, I do not think he is Oakland's best option.

     Bruce Gradkowski:   The reason Russell doesn't have the 3 excuses I listed earlier: age, experience and supporting cast.  Gradkowski just finished his 4th NFL season, and he has started less than Russell.  Bruce is only 27 years old, not much older than Russell.  And Gradkowski led the Raiders to wins in 2 of his 3 full games.  And one of those teams were the defending champions at Pittsburgh, and the other beat the playoff-bound Bengals.  The Raiders did get a beating at Dallas on Thanksgiving, but Gradkowski managed to get DHB his 1st (and only) NFL career TD.  The fact that Gradkowski has been released by 3 teams only makes him a better fit for the Al Davis Oakland Raiders, players that other teams said weren't good enough.  Remember Warren Wells, he was released by 2 teams before setting the NFL record for yards per catch in 1969.  I think Gradkowski is the best chance to win for Oakland because of his hustle and heart.  It is being reported that he will get a 2nd round tender as a restricted free agent (1 year, $1.175M).

     Charlie Frye:   He rose from the 3rd string spot in training camp to the starter by the seasons end.  Although he had average play on the field (65.3 QB rating) he was still much better at moving the ball than Russell (50.0 QB rating), but not as good as Gradkowski (80.6 QB rating).  He is a restricted free agent, if Oakland wants to keep him they must decide what to give him to compete for the starters job.  He appears to be injury prone and unable to escape the pass rush as well as Gradkowski.  I can imagine Gradkowski singing to Frye "anything you can do I can do better".  If I were Tom Cable I would keep Frye around at least until training camp just to show that it is anybody's job, not just Russell vs. Gradkowski...even though they are the 2 frontrunners.

     J.P. Losman:   He is on the roster until Thursday March 4 at 1:00 Pacific time, that is when all restrcited free agent tenders are due.  I don't see Losman in Oakland's future plans unless he returns because of another injury somewhere down the road, which is not out of the question behind Oakland's current line.  He had 1 play last year, at Denver and he threw a pass as he was getting sacked and the pass went incomplete and was almost intercepted.  Not a good first impression.  He has a career rating of 75.6, after 6 NFL seasons.  Maybe he isn't so bad and could be worth a chance. 

     Tim Tebow:   Tom Cable didn't rule out drafting a QB and Tebow could possibly fall into the second round.  Remember how far Brady Quinn fell in 2007?  He is a college star from the SEC and has been a Heisman hopeful every year and he has big game experience.  Why does that sound familiar?  Oh yeah, the Raiders drafted that guy in 2007...I can't remeber how that worked out.  Even if the Raiders wanted Tebow, how much would it cost to have him and Russell on the same team? 

    Michael Vick:   Vick and the Eagles are unsure about how they feel about each other.  With McNabb and Vick in contract years, the Eagles may want to dump one to re-sign the other.  Vick could be a good fit in Oakland:  the land of misfits, America's most hated team, the bad guys, etc...  Vick has shown he could be a good QB, remember his early days with the Falcons, including a trip to the NFC Championship game?  He has the mobility needed to survive behind the Raiders duct tape offensive line.  But can the Raiders afford the negative publicity, especiaaly when their average attendance is among the leagues lowest.  And Tom Cable has worked hard to dump off players who bring distractions.  And on Vick's side, he has said he would like to play for the Panthers if he leaves the Eagles.

     Troy Smith:   Smith was drafted by the Ravens in the middle rounds of 2007, who would go on and draft Joe Flacco the next year.  Flacco has had back-toback playoff runs and appears to have the job safe in Baltimore.  I can imagine Oakland trading a mid-round pick to get him.  Smith was terrific in college, winning a Heisman in 2006, before a terrible BCS title game (4/14--35 yards--1 INT--1 fumble and 5 sacks) against Florida in his college finale tanked his draft stock.  Smith could be the answer to Oakland, or he could be as bad as that BCS title loss made him look.

     These were just some of the many options Oakland has for QB.  Chad Pennington leads the free agent QB pool and there are more QBs who could be drafted by Oakland in the middle rounds.  There are more names in this race than a primary election ballot, but we will have a better idea of Oakland's direction as training camp draws near.  Let me know if you have any other ideas for this competition.