Raiders' Best Long-Term Options at QB After Derek Carr Benching

Alex BallentineJanuary 4, 2023

Raiders' Best Long-Term Options at QB After Derek Carr Benching

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    The Derek Carr era appears to be over in Las Vegas.
    The Derek Carr era appears to be over in Las Vegas. Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Las Vegas Raiders' decision to bench Derek Carr for their Week 17 game against the San Francisco 49ers feels like the end of an era.

    After nine years of serving as the starting quarterback for the Raiders, the Silver and Black decided to go in another direction, playing Jarrett Stidham over a healthy Carr in the team's penultimate game of the 2022 season.

    But deciding to move on is the easy part. It's finding the right successor that's hard. The Raiders are about to enter the great unknown at the quarterback position for the first time in nearly a decade, and finding a long-term solution is among the hardest things to do in the NFL.

    There's an outside shot at bringing in someone like Tom Brady. The 45-year-old is set to be a free agent, and his connection to head coach Josh McDaniels could give some credence to Vegas as a landing spot.

    But that's more of a year-to-year solution given his age. These options could fill the role for multiple seasons and give the Raiders the best shot at becoming contender.

3. Jarrett Stidham

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    Jarrett Stidham played really well in his starting debut for the Raiders.
    Jarrett Stidham played really well in his starting debut for the Raiders. Chris Unger/Getty Images

    This might not be the most exciting option. Stidham is already on the roster and has thrown 95 career pass attempts, including the 34 he threw in the Week 17 loss to San Francisco.

    But in that incredibly limited sample size, he showed off some skills that could warrant a full-fledged audition next season. The former Patriots backup went 23-of-34 for 365 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

    Carr only surpassed 300 yards passing twice this season. It only took Stidham one start to clear the number, and he took the 49ers to overtime in the process.

    After the game, Davante Adams was effusive in his praise for the quarterback.

    "I think Jarrett shocked a lot of people but he didn't shock me," Adams said, per Vic Tafur of The Athletic. "We all went out there and we had a lot of fun today, and it was one of those games where we rallied for each other and had a good battle with a really good football team. I am proud of them."

    The upside of Stidham is that he already has experience with McDaniels and the Raiders offense. He showed he knows how to run it and will have another game to prove that he deserves a shot.

    He doesn't have the experience of some of the free-agent options. He doesn't have the flashy upside of an early draft pick. But he seems to have the backing of his teammates and belief from the coaching staff.

    That could be enough.

2. Trade Up for Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud

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    C.J. Stroud put on a show against Georgia in the College Football Playoff.
    C.J. Stroud put on a show against Georgia in the College Football Playoff. David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Making a move for Alabama's Bryce Young or Ohio State's C.J. Stroud is the antithesis of giving Stidham a chance to be the starter in 2023.

    While rolling with Stidham would be hoping that he could be the rare fourth-round pick who becomes a full-time starter at quarterback, moving up the draft board to take Young or Stroud is a drastic move to take a more conventional route to find a starter.

    Heading into Week 18, the Raiders are scheduled to make the eighth pick in the draft. The Chicago Bears hold the No. 2 pick but seem to have a quarterback to build around in Justin Fields.

    That makes them prime candidates to trade back for a massive haul of draft picks to a team that needs a quarterback.

    In the 2023 draft class, Young and Stroud seem to be the best bets. The duo both scored 8.5 (immediate impact player) grades from the Bleacher Report Scouting Department. The next quarterback on their board (Florida's Anthony Richardson) is much less polished than those two.

    Young's ability to make plays outside of structure, push the ball downfield and command an offense make him an elite prospect. Stroud has the prototypical size and arm strength with the ability to pick apart defenses from the pocket.

    The question is whether either is worth the draft capital the Raiders would likely have to give up to leapfrog other quarterback-needy teams. The 49ers traded three first-rounders and a third to get jump from No. 12 to 3 and take Trey Lance in 2020.

    The Raiders would likely have to give a similar bounty to go from No. 8 to No. 2.

1. Jimmy Garoppolo

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    SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 04: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up during pregame against the Miami Dolphins at Levi's Stadium on December 04, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The Raiders are constructed to compete right now. Relying on an unproven option like Stidham or even drafting an elite prospect is going to take time.

    Chandler Jones (32), Davante Adams (30), Darren Waller (30), Kolton Miller (27) and Hunter Renfrow (27) are set to be among the highest-paid players on the roster. The Raiders core is made up of players who are in the middle or back end of their respective primes.

    So it makes sense the quarterback for the foreseeable future should be in the same spot in his career.

    That's what makes Jimmy Garoppolo, 31, a good fit for where the franchise is right now. Garoppolo is familiar with McDaniels from their shared time in New England, and he has the best combination of experience and upside.

    Jimmy G has some limitations as a passer. His arm strength might not be among the best in the league, but he's 40-17 as a starter and is a proven distributor who can run an efficient offense.

    Even this year he went 7-3 as the starter in San Francisco with 16 touchdowns to just four interceptions and the 16th-highest QBR in the league.

    With weaponry like Adams, Waller and Renfrow, that's all the Raiders need at quarterback to be a dangerous team.