This Date In Transactions History: Raiders Sign Kerry Collins

As the Giants considered making a major quarterback move in this year’s draft, it is worth reminding the franchise has managed to avoid much turnover at the game’s premier position. The team employed Phil Simms for 15 years, Eli Manning for 16 and is set to give Daniel Jones a sixth season at the helm.

Kerry Collins stood in the Jones position 20 years ago, coming off his fifth season as the team’s starter. A former Panthers top-five pick, Collins had stabilized his career in New York, leading the Giants to Super Bowl XXXV and another playoff berth two years later. But the team had designs on upgrading after a 4-12 2003 season. Unlike this year’s Giants, the team completed a trade for its desired QB prospect. As Manning maneuvered his way to New York, being traded from the Chargers after the team he asked not pick him did so at No. 1 overall, Collins quickly made his way out of the Big Apple. Shortly after the draft, the Giants ended the suspense with their incumbent by cutting him.

One of only three primary Giants QB1s this century, Collins was given an option to stay on and groom Manning. Collins and then-GM Ernie Accorsi did not agree on an arrangement in which the veteran would accept a pay cut and be a bridge quarterback, so the Giants moved on in late April. Twenty years ago today, the Raiders came in with an offer that ended Collins’ short stay in free agency. The Raiders gave Collins a three-year, $16.82MM deal on May 24, 2004.

This mid-offseason agreement came as former MVP Rich Gannon‘s status was in question, and as the veteran Oakland starter approached 40, it would be Collins quarterbacking the Raiders for most of the next two seasons. Gannon had made the Pro Bowl in each of his first four Raiders seasons. This included a 2002 MVP award, when he piloted the Raiders to Super Bowl XXXVII, and two first-team All-Pro honors. But his 2003 season ended early due to a torn labrum. As Gannon entered his age-39 season, Collins — at 31 — became a high-profile insurance option.

Oakland needed to use that insurance early. A scary helmet-to-helmet collision with future Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks in Week 3 of the 2004 season ended Gannon’s career. Collins started the final 13 games for the Raiders in 2004 and was under center in 15 games during the ’05 season. The pocket passer’s Raiders tenure did not reach the heights his Giants run did.

Collins played with arguably the two best wide receivers in NFL history, though not at the same time. Jerry Rice‘s four-year Raiders tenure ended (via a trade to the Seahawks) in October 2004, and Randy Moss‘ two-season Oakland stay began after a Raiders-Vikings swap in 2005. While Moss fared better with Collins (1,005 receiving yards) than he did during a woeful 2006 season, the all-time great’s Raiders stretch was a major disappointment.

The Raiders went 7-21 with Collins at the controls. The veteran led the NFL in interceptions, with 20, in 2004 and completed just 53.5% of his passes — well south of his Giants work — in 2005. Firing Norv Turner after the 2005 season, the Raiders also cut Collins. They signed Aaron Brooks in 2006, using he and 2005 third-rounder Andrew Walter as stopgaps during a 2-14 season that set up the JaMarcus Russell pick.

Eventually stretching his career to 17 seasons, Collins ended up bouncing back with the Titans. The 2006 free agency pickup replaced a scuffling Vince Young in 2008 and led Tennessee team to a 13-3 record. After Collins passed on the Manning bridge gig four years earlier, Kurt Warner ended up taking it. Although the former two-time MVP was benched for a developing Manning nine games into the 2004 season, the Giants tenure helped set up the future Hall of Famer’s memorable third act with the Cardinals.

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