When the Raiders released Derek Carr this offseason, most assumed the team would be at the front of the line for big names like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, who's since retired. With just a single quarterback under contract for 2023 -- former undrafted rookie Chase Garbers -- they figured to be in the market for anyone and everyone available. But general manager Dave Ziegler is cautioning against lofty expectations, downplaying the possibility of an "immediate answer" on the "Bussin' with the Boys" podcast.
"We're in charge of filling the most important position on the team," Ziegler said, per NFL.com. "There's some pressure that comes along with that. And however we fill it, it doesn't mean we're going to have an immediate answer this year. But, at the end of the day, we have to have an answer in some form or fashion. There's pressure that comes along with it. That's also part of the excitement, too."
The most telling admission there is surely the fact that the Raiders may not have an immediate answer "this year." Sure, they may have "an answer in some form of fashion," Ziegler suggested, but maybe not the answer. So what does this mean for the Raiders' offseason? What can we draw, if anything, from his comments about the team's QB plans?
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The most apparent takeaway is that the Raiders are prepared to settle at the position. The natural assumption regarding Carr's release is that Las Vegas will instantly look to upgrade on its previous starter. But as we've seen from plenty of teams in plenty of offseasons, that's easier said than done. Carr, like Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo and other similarly accomplished veterans, may not be widely acclaimed. But cleanly acquiring an upgrade -- let alone a long-term one -- usually requires outbidding and/or outsmarting all the other QB-needy teams in either the draft or free agency.
And who, really, represents a clear upgrade over Carr in the 2023 market anyway? Rodgers, perhaps? But we don't know yet whether he'll return, or whether he'll desire to stay in Green Bay, or which other teams are better suited to trade picks to land him. And even if he arrives, at 39, he projects as little more than a short-term fix. Besides a blockbuster deal for, say, Lamar Jackson, or a big gamble on a younger vet like Daniel Jones or Mac Jones, there isn't a single experienced starter who stands out as a feasible multi-year solution for the Raiders.
What, then, does "settling" look like? It may still involve spending big money. But the targets would be more easily identifiable as placeholders: think Garoppolo, who's got the built-in Josh McDaniels connection, or Geno Smith, if somehow Seattle lets the Comeback Player of the Year walk in favor of a rookie. Pretty much any one of the mid-tier free agent QBs would also qualify: Andy Dalton, Gardner Minshew, Teddy Bridgewater, Taylor Heinicke and Jacoby Brissett -- the last of whom has his own history with McDaniels -- all register as serviceable but replaceable stopgaps.
The X-factor, of course, is the draft, where the Raiders would surely prefer to solve the QB issue. Not since Carr have they actually -- or successfully -- invested an early pick on a signal-caller. With picks at No. 7 and No. 39 overall, they've got the ammunition to pursue one of the consensus top prospects -- likely Ohio State's C.J. Stroud or Alabama's Bryce Young (via a potential trade up); Kentucky's Will Levis or Florida's Anthony Richardson; or Tennessee's Hendon Hooker (beyond Day 1). There's little doubt that Ziegler would be willing to take a swing at a QB, but once again, there are obstacles: what is the price? Is the prospect beloved internally? You don't want to force a QB pick just because you can.
In reality, this approach mirrors that of most teams who need a QB. You can dream of a Tom Brady-esque plug-and-play solution all you want, but the market often dictates otherwise. And until you're both sold on -- and capable of securing -- a homegrown face of the franchise, the best you can do is be smart with what's available. And then, inevitably, start all over again next year.