Oakland Raiders: Vince Young and Why Signing Him Is Not Such a Bad Idea

Clarence Baldwin Jr@2ndclarenceAnalyst IMarch 28, 2013

Vince Young is a low-risk, high-reward (and low cost) option for Oakland
Vince Young is a low-risk, high-reward (and low cost) option for OaklandBob Levey/Getty Images

If you are a Raiders fan, the following numbers are a bit hard to look at, but they are the reality of this team since the year 2002. These are the win-loss records of every regular starting quarterback the team has had since Super Bowl XXXVII:

Rich Gannon, 4-6

Kerry Collins, 7-21

Andrew Walter, 2-7

Aaron Brooks, 0-8

Josh McCown, 2-7

Daunte Culpepper, 2-4

JaMarcus Russell, 7-18

Bruce Gradkowski, 3-5

Jason Campbell, 11-7

Carson Palmer, 8-16

Ten quarterbacks with at least eight starts for the Oakland Raiders since 2003. One quarterback with a winning record. For all of the commentary made about the Raiders run defense and other ills this team has faced, the instability at quarterback has been far and away the biggest issue with this team.

Now, imagine I told you there was a quarterback on the free agent market that comes with a career winning percentage of .620 in 50 starts. 31-19 or just 15 fewer losses than the 10 signal callers on the list above. Without a name, there would definitely be intrigue.

But when the name Vince Young is attached to that record, immediately there are disclaimers and dismissive ways to devalue his results as an NFL starter. 

The Titans defense carried him in Tennessee. Which totally explains how/why Young has 13 game-winning drives and/or fourth-quarter comebacks in his career. It is one thing to have a year when you get hot (think Jake Plummer in 1998 or Tim Tebow in 2011): Doing it over your entire career is entirely different.

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Young's passer rating and completion percentage are not starter-worthy. I'll admit, his individual numbers don't pass the eye test. A shade under 58 percent career completion percentage and more interceptions than touchdowns for his career (46 to 51). But I will give you the inverse of that: Jeff George. 

In George's best season in 1997, he threw 29 touchdowns to just nine interceptions. And the Raiders went 4-12. Numbers don't lie, but they don't often tell the whole truth. Some quarterbacks just know how to win. That intangible can't always be accounted for with statistics.

Now, there is one issue that is valid and has nothing to do with the on-field element of a potential signing of Young. His mental behavior has been sketchy, to be nice. It is hard to justify turning over a franchise to a player that borrowed $300,000 to throw himself a birthday party. No one, not even Young's No. 1 fan, can justify that.

Which is precisely why signing him to an incentives-based, one-year contract makes perfect sense. I can only hope that Reggie McKenzie recognizes that Geno Smith's value is a construct more of a weak draft for quarterbacks than his own projections in the NFL. 

A player like Matt Flynn serves no better purpose in a rebuilding year. Especially with such a prohibitive contract for a team with tenuous cap space as it is. And Carson Palmer is already on the first method of transportation out of the East Bay.

There is no reason not to give Terrelle Pryor a real look in 2013. If he can't play the position or is not a long-term option, keeping him on the roster without purpose is a waste. So what the Raiders should be doing is evaluating a diamond in the rough while having a cost-efficient contingency plan for this year. 

The way I see it, if neither Pryor or Young pans out, a stronger quarterback class is waiting in 2014 (headed likely by Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas). When it comes to quarterback, you don't put your eggs in the first basket, you put them in the best basket. The Raiders have already borne the brunt of that mistake. 

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