For a second straight offseason, the Raiders are preparing to acquire a starter-caliber quarterback. The team’s 2023 move — Jimmy Garoppolo — was quickly determined to not be a viable solution. A new Raiders regime will try again.
The Raiders are prepared to acquire a quarterback, according to Antonio Pierce (via The Athletic’s Vic Tafur). While it should be expected the team will aim higher than Aidan O’Connell, Pierce said the team’s second-half starter will be given the chance to compete to keep the starting job.
After not needing to pursue QBs for nine straight offseasons, the Raiders cutting Derek Carr changed their equation. They gave ex-Josh McDaniels pupil Garoppolo a three-year, $72.75MM deal. Injuries and poor performance led Garoppolo to the bench after only six starts, moving O’Connell — chosen at the end of the fourth round — into the lineup. O’Connell made 10 starts, winning five of those games. While the Purdue product may be viewed as more of a backup, he remains in the Raiders’ Pierce-Tom Telesco regime’s plans.
It would be a moderate surprise if Brian Hoyer did, given his ties to McDaniels. But the 38-year-old veteran remains under contract for 2024, thanks to the two-year deal he signed after considering retirement. (Designating Garoppolo as a post-June 1 cut would save the Raiders nearly $13MM.) O’Connell’s rookie contract runs through 2026, but the Raiders are already being connected to making another draft investment at the position.
Pierce was on Arizona State’s staff when it recruited and signed Jayden Daniels. The 2023 Heisman winner transferred in 2022, the same year Pierce resigned amid a recruiting scandal. In place as the Raiders’ HC, Pierce was believed to have discussed the prospect of trading up for Daniels during the team’s OC search. The Raiders currently hold the No. 13 overall pick. Although Daniels’ value does not appear set, he is expected to go off the board earlier.
Unlike the Vikings or Buccaneers, the Raiders do not have exclusive negotiating rights with a starter-caliber veteran. Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield cannot speak with other teams until the legal tampering period, which begins March 11. Russell Wilson is expected to be released by the Broncos soon, and the lower his 2024 contract, the bigger — due to offset language — Denver’s dead-money bill. Options like Ryan Tannehill, Gardner Minshew, Jacoby Brissett and Sam Darnold are on track to hit the market as well.
Perhaps the most interesting name for the Raiders will be Justin Fields. Working under new Raiders OC Luke Getsy for two years, Fields experienced highs and lows during that partnership. But the Bears are expected to seek a trade partner for the 2021 first-round pick, who can be controlled through 2025 via the fifth-year option. Fields is also not expected to cost a first-round pick, though Chicago asking for one would not surprise. Multiple teams will probably pursue Fields; it would surprise if the Raiders were not one of them.