Latest On Raiders’ QB Competition

Raiders general manager Tom Telesco made it clear this spring the team would conduct a genuine competition for the starting quarterback job. 2023 fourth-rounder Aidan O’Connell and free agent addition Gardner Minshew split first-team reps in OTAs and minicamp, setting up an interesting situation for the summer.

O’Connell took over from Jimmy Garoppolo midway through last season, and his final weeks of the campaign in particular led to strong endorsements from head coach Antonio Pierce. The 25-year-old received a vote of confidence to enter camp atop the depth chart, but Vegas was among the teams known to be interested in adding a first-round rookie quarterback. In the end, the Raiders did not have the option to trade into a top three slot and add a passer.

Minshew signed a two-year, $25MM contract in March to provide Vegas with either an experienced bridge starter or a veteran capable of stepping in for a rookie. The team viewed him as an insurance policy for any potential draft additions, but with none being made the 28-year-old will have a chance to win the QB1 gig during the summer. He may have ground to make up once training camp opens, though.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler noted during a recent SportsCenter appearance that while the Raiders’ competition is a “real battle,” O’Connell may have the lead at this point. Familiarity with the team is a factor in his potential edge (along with, as Fowler notes, support from wideout Davante Adams) although Vegas has installed a new scheme this offseason under offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. Fowler does add that Minshew has grown comfortable in the team’s offense as well, leaving plenty to be decided in the coming weeks.

Fowler predicts both O’Connell and Minshew could wind up seeing playing time in the preseason, something which is generally not the case for starters at many positions (especially quarterback) these days. If training camp practices are not sufficient for a leading candidate to emerge, though, Pierce may be required to use both signal-callers in game action to determine the order of the depth chart.

O’Connell is attached to his rookie contract for three more years at cap hits no larger than $1.27MM. Minshew, meanwhile, has scheduled cap charges of just $5.84MM and $3.16MM over the next two seasons thanks to the void years present in his deal. The Raiders will therefore have a cost-effective QB tandem in 2024, but it remains to be seen who will get the nod for Week 1.

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