Raiders Were Not Prepared To Trade Up For Michael Penix Jr.

Six quarterbacks going in this draft’s first 12 picks left the Raiders in limbo, setting up a Gardner MinshewAidan O’Connell competition. For a second straight year, the team did extensive work on a QB class only to pass on making a move to select one in Round 1.

The Josh McDanielsDave Ziegler power duo arranged meetings with last year’s top five QB prospects, only to stay at No. 7 and draft Tyree Wilson. This year, as a report tabbed Antonio Pierce as more eager to trade up compared to GM Tom Telesco, the Raiders were closely linked to Jayden Daniels and Michael Penix Jr. Daniels proved out of reach, despite the team being the club that most likely sent the Commanders the only offer for No. 2 overall, and Penix came off the board earlier than expected.

The Falcons’ move at No. 8 affected multiple franchises. It convinced the Broncos to stop entertaining trade-down scenarios involving Bo Nix, as the Raiders loomed at No. 13. With Nix going at No. 12, the move also will likely precede a number of Raiders connections to 2025 QB prospects. The Raiders placed a value gap between this year’s top three QBs (Daniels, Caleb Williams, Drake Maye) and the other three first-rounders, and’s Jeremy Fowler furthers that view by indicating the team would have considered Penix at No. 13 but was not prepared to trade up for him.

Las Vegas also viewed a trade-down option as viable for Penix, with Fowler indicating the team did not want to reach in Round 1. Trading down quickly became moot for the Raiders, as the Falcons installed Penix behind Kirk Cousins. Sean Payton correctly pegged the Vikings as being J.J. McCarthy fans, as the team moved in front of the Broncos (via the Jets) for the Michigan product, and the Raiders as being high on Penix. With the southpaw prospect in Atlanta, Las Vegas has what appears to be a transition year ahead.

Penix’s early NFL path would have certainly been much different had the Raiders deemed it a priority to come out of Round 1 with a quarterback. Rather than being on track to join Jordan Love as the only first-round QBs in the rookie-scale contract era (2011-present) to sit for more than one season, Penix almost definitely would have been set to debut in 2024 had the Raiders picked him. The six-year college QB joins Nix and Daniels as going into his age-24 season, but with $100MM in practical guarantees due to Cousins, Penix’s QB1 ETA may not be until at least his age-26 season.

A “best player available”-type pick transpired instead for the Raiders, who took Brock Bowers. Pierce denied Terrion Arnold‘s assertion the team flipped a coin to decide between the Alabama cornerback and Georgia tight end, who will follow 2023 second-round pick Michael Mayer to Vegas. Bowers will be expected to become an instant contributor, creating an interesting setup for Mayer — last year’s No. 35 overall pick.

The Raiders did not need to trade up for Will Levis last year, as the Kentucky prospect tumbled out of Round 1, but were not as interested in passers as their “30” visit log suggested. A year after that smokescreen effort, Las Vegas did meet with Penix, Daniels and Nix. But the team’s long-term QB need remains unfilled.

This represents good news for Minshew, who will be the favorite to start — based on the two-year, $25MM ($15MM guaranteed) deal he agreed to hours into the legal tampering period — in 2024. By 2025, however, the Raiders should be expected to go through another exhaustive run of QB research.

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