Aidan O’Connell

Raiders Planning To Acquire QB; Aidan O’Connell To Compete For Starting Job

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.

Raiders Notes: Gruden, Brady, O’Connell

The Raiders are one of two teams (the Panthers being the other) which are guaranteed to be involved in a full-scale coaching search this offseason. With Josh McDaniels having been let go midway through his second season at the helm, a number of candidates will no doubt receive consideration in the coming weeks.

One of those could be a familiar face. Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports Jon Gruden could be brought back in a move which would have signficant legal ramifications. Gruden resigned in the wake of leaded emails emerging in 2021, prompting him to file a lawsuit against the NFL. That action is aimed at uncovering the identity of the person responsible for the leaks, and Gruden intends to continue with the suit.

As Bonsignore notes, however, the NFL may be on board with “avoid[ing] a potential public-relations nightmare by simply letting Gruden be re-hired” by the Raiders. The 60-year-old was in the midst of Year 4 of his second tenure with the organization when he resigned. He has not been on the coaching radar since, fueling the argument made in his lawsuit. Dropping the suit in exchange for being brought back would mark an unexpected end to this situation, though Bonsignore adds it is unknown if owner Mark Davis would be interested in such a move.

Here are some other notes out of Sin City:

  • Tom Brady‘s bid to become a minority Raiders owner has still not been approved. The agreement which would see the seven-time Super Bowl winner take on a stake in the franchise (which could also include having a say in the hiring process for the replacements of McDaniels and ex-GM Dave Ziegler) was not discussed during yesterday’s owners meeting, per Mark Maske of the Washington Post. However, there remains optimism that ratification will be attained in the future as Brady prepares for a transition to the broadcast booth.
  • The Raiders lost to the Vikings in Week 14 despite only allowing three points. The team’s lackluster offensive showing led to questions about Vegas’ quarterback situation, but no changes under center are expected. Rookie Aidan O’Connell is expected to get the start in tonight’s game against the Chargers, as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Veterans Jimmy Garoppolo and Brian Hoyer are on the roster, but both face very uncertain futures compared to O’Connell. The latter has been in place as the starter since McDaniels was let go, so it comes as little surprise Vegas will elect to keep him atop the depth chart.
  • While O’Connell will likely be in place for tonight’s battle of the backups, the Raiders may not have their top rushing option available. Josh Jacobs has not practiced during this short week, and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports his status is very much in doubt (video link). If last year’s rushing champion is at risk of worsening the quad injury he suffered on Sunday, he will not suit up, Rapoport adds. Jacobs was one of three franchise tag recipients at the RB position this offseason, and no long-term deal was worked out. He has remained a key member of the team’s offense in 2023, logging double-digit carries all but once in 13 games. Jacobs has seen his yards per carry mark drop compared to last season (from 4.9 to 3.5) but he leads the team in rushing by 742 yards, meaning his absence would deal a major blow to the Raiders’ attempt at an offensive rebound.

Raiders To Bench Jimmy Garoppolo, Start Aidan O’Connell In Week 9

NOVEMBER 3: Garoppolo will see his time atop the depth chart come to an end, but he will remain in the gameday lineup on Sunday. Pierce confirmed on Friday that the 32-year-old will back up O’Connell, meaning Hoyer will serve as the emergency third quarterback. While the chance of Garoppolo suiting up could lead to a new injury and thus complicate his likely exit this offseason, this setup will give Vegas an insurance policy while O’Connell receives an extended look as a starter.

NOVEMBER 1: Aidan O’Connell will return to a starting role and will do so after being demoted to third-stringer. Following Josh McDaniels‘ ouster, the Raiders are preparing to install the rookie as their starting quarterback,’s Ian Rapoport reports. This is not expected to be a one-off, with Rapoport adding O’Connell will take the reins “going forward.”

Jimmy Garoppolo returned in Week 8 from a back injury that sidelined him the previous week, but despite signing a three-year deal this offseason, the longtime starter will be benched. This will certainly mark a major transition for the Raiders, who had used Brian Hoyer ahead of O’Connell in Week 7. The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Vincent Bonsignore initially reported the Raiders were leaning in this direction.

McDaniels turned to O’Connell in Week 4 following a Garoppolo concussion but kept him on the bench when Garoppolo went down two weeks later. Hoyer, 38, replaced Garoppolo against the Patriots and helped the team to a win. Hoyer then started against the Bears, though O’Connell also saw time late in that ugly defeat against the Tyson Bagent-quarterbacked team. Now, O’Connell will make the unexpected jump past Garoppolo for a team that is in line to have Bo Hardegree calling plays.

The Raiders have fired McDaniels, GM Dave Ziegler and OC Mick Lombardi. While Scott Turner is on staff as pass-game coordinator and brings four full seasons as a play-calling OC, Hardegree received the nod. Linebackers coach Antonio Pierce is now Las Vegas’ interim HC, with assistant GM Champ Kelly — who had interviewed for the GM gig — operating as interim GM. Garoppolo’s demotion will be the most notable on-field change in the wake of the housecleaning.

Garoppolo signed a three-year, $72.75MM deal with the Raiders, rejoining McDaniels after 5 1/2 seasons with the 49ers. Garoppolo, who had played for McDaniels for 3 1/2 seasons in New England, has started 63 career games. Although he has developed an earned reputation as the NFL’s most injury-prone active QB, Garoppolo had fared well in Kyle Shanahan‘s system. But the 10th-year QB, who turns 32 on Thursday, did not hit the ground running when back with McDaniels in Las Vegas. Garoppolo sits 30th in QBR and, despite missing two games, has thrown an NFL-high nine interceptions. The Raiders’ problems on offense go deeper than Garoppolo, hence the firings, but a team source informed Rapoport that O’Connell is the team’s best QB.

That certainly remains to be seen. The Purdue product flashed during the preseason and received the first crack at replacing Garoppolo, though Hoyer re-entering the picture does not bode too well for the fourth-round pick’s prospects. Khalil Mack sacked O’Connell six times during a seven-point loss in which the rookie fumbled thrice. O’Connell still completed 24 of 39 passes for 248 yards in that one-score loss, though a late red zone interception denied the Raiders a chance to tie that game.

O’Connell saw regular action in all four seasons with the Boilermakers and worked as their full-time starter in his final two. The Raiders met with each of the top five QB prospects this year but eyed defense (Tyree Wilson) in Round 1 and tabled their QB pick until No. 135 overall. This decision points Garoppolo to another free agency bid in 2024. Garoppolo’s 2024 base salary ($11.25MM) is guaranteed, but CBS Sports’ Joel Corry notes a Raiders September restructure of the deal — which added two void years for cap-saving purposes — will create $28MM in dead-money charges in the event of a non-post-June 1 cut designation. A post-June 1 cut would lead to a $15MM-plus dead-money hit. That restructure will create a challenge for the Raiders’ next GM come 2024.

Raiders Fallout: Davis, Garoppolo, Brady

The Raiders made headlines early this morning when they fired head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler. While the midseason shakeup may have come as a surprise to some, it probably didn’t shock many of the team’s veterans.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, owner Mark Davis had meetings with veteran players over the past week to better understand the team’s culture (or lack thereof). Albert Breer of echoes that report, noting that Davis was well aware of the players’ grievances. Even before the recent meetings, the firing started to feel “inevitable” within the organization, according to Breer. Davis was becoming increasingly “volatile and angry” with the team’s inconsistencies, and that ultimately led to his decision.

McDaniels was also aware of the problems in his locker room. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports that the coach allowed players to raise their issues during a team meeting last week. Josh Jacobs, Maxx Crosby, and Davante Adams were among the veteran players who spoke up, with the latter also expressing his discontent following Monday’s loss to the Lions.

Breer has more details on what led to the eventual firings. There was a “particularly aggressive” postgame meeting between Davis and his staff after the Raiders beat the Packers in Week 5. Despite the win, the owner caught the attention of many because he was “so angry,” and his “reaction created an uneasy feeling” with coaches and scouts.

More notes out of Las Vegas…

  • The “disconnect” between Davis and McDaniels/Ziegler surrounding the Raiders quarterback situation played a major role in the dismissals, according to Dianna Russini, Vic Tafur, Tashan Reed, and Larry Holder of The Athletic. The decision that played the most significant role in the firings was when veteran Brian Hoyer started over rookie Aidan O’Connell in Week 7. Breer provided more context on that decision, noting that the Raiders believed Hoyer’s veteran game management would be advantageous against the Bears, who were rolling with a rookie of their own. Some coaches believed that O’Connell should get the call, and Hoyer proceeded to throw a pair of interceptions in an eventual loss.
  • According to Tafur, Davis had issues with Ziegler’s handling of the position before this season. The owner wasn’t a proponent of the extension that the GM gave to Derek Carr, and the accompanying no-trade clause meant the organization ultimately let the franchise quarterback walk without receiving any compensation. Ziegler didn’t do himself any favors by handing Jimmy Garoppolo $33MM in guaranteed money. The oft-injured QB later failed his physical and ultimately required surgery, and he’s proceeded to toss nine interceptions in his six games. The GM also might regret his decision to not target a rookie and spend the money elsewhere; per Tafur, the Raiders only liked Bryce Young heading into the draft.
  • Davis will now have a difficult choice to make on Garoppolo, and it goes beyond the decision to start O’Connell in Week 9. As Mike Florio of writes, it makes most sense for the organization to cut the veteran QB as soon as possible. Garoppolo has $11.25MM in injury guarantees that are due in March of 2024. The team could cut him after the Super Bowl and before the guarantee vests, but they’d be risking the QB suffering an injury during an upcoming game or practice.
  • Tom Brady isn’t yet an official part-owner of the Raiders, but the future Hall of Famer will be involved in the HC and GM hiring process, according to Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports. Of course, Brady has a relationship with both McDaniels and Ziegler, with the trio having won many Super Bowls together during their time in New England.

Raiders’ Jimmy Garoppolo To Miss Week 7

For the second time this season, the Raiders will be without their starting quarterback. The back injury Jimmy Garoppolo sustained Sunday will sideline him for Week 7, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Vincent Bonsignore confirming the 10th-year passer will miss the Bears matchup.

Considering Garoppolo needed to be hospitalized after the injury, it certainly is not surprising to see the Raiders exercise caution with one of the NFL’s most injury-prone players. Garoppolo also missed Week 4 with a concussion.

Although the Raiders received better-than-expected news on their recent free agency pickup, Garoppolo being down opens the door to a steep drop-off at quarterback for the 3-3 team. The Raiders used fourth-round rookie Aidan O’Connell in Garoppolo’s last full-game absence, which featured a Khalil Mack six-sack barrage against his former team, but veteran Brian Hoyer replaced Garoppolo against the Patriots. The Raiders have not determined which backup will start against the Bears, Bonsignore adds.

This will likely become a matchup of backups. The Bears are not expected to have Justin Fields, who suffered a dislocated thumb last week. Tyson Bagent, whom the Elias Sports Bureau notes would only be the fourth Division II quarterback to start in the past 20 years, is expected to receive the call against Las Vegas. Ex-Raider Nathan Peterman is in place as the rookie UDFA’s backup.

Commanding a decent market this offseason, Garoppolo signed a three-year, $72.75MM deal. The former New England and San Francisco passer missing starts always seemed likely, given his history. Week 7 will mark the former Super Bowl starter’s 32nd missed regular-season start due to injury since he suffered an ACL tear in September 2018.

The 31-year-old QB has generally been effective when available, but his lack of durability made the Raiders’ backup plan somewhat curious this offseason. Hoyer, who turned 38 last week, is the oldest healthy QB in the league (the NFL’s oldest active passer, Aaron Rodgers, went down four plays into the season). The former Josh McDaniels Patriots pupil also considered retirement this offseason; he signed a two-year, $4.5MM deal that includes $4.2MM guaranteed. O’Connell shined during the preseason, but he came to Vegas as the No. 135 overall pick. The Raiders met with each of this draft’s top five QB prospects but went in another direction during the selection weekend.

O’Connell took seven sacks and fumbled three times against the Chargers, though he did complete 61.5% of his throws during a 238-yard performance. Hoyer has made 40 career starts. After a productive mid-2010s stretch in Cleveland and Houston, Hoyer came into this season having lost his most recent 11 starts. The 15th-year veteran did help the Raiders past the Patriots during a 10-pass relief outing.

Davante Adams Not Planning To Seek Trade

Mustering only 17 points against a Broncos defense that has been by far the league’s worst over the first four games has kept the Raiders from an 0-4 start. They rank outside the top 20 in total offense and points, opening the door to bigger-picture questions.

Las Vegas’ offense looks quite different from the top-flight attacks Davante Adams aided in Green Bay and is not the one he signed up for, seeing as longtime friend Derek Carr was booted after the ex-Fresno State teammates reunited for one season. While Adams would qualify as a splashy option in trades, such a scenario does not look to be on the radar.

Adams expressed curiosity when assessing his fit with Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason, but’s Jeremy Fowler notes the All-Pro wide receiver is not eyeing a trade out of Las Vegas. The ex-Packers star is aiming for a long-term Raiders stay.

After helping the Packers to three straight playoff byes to close out his tenure, Adams pinpointed the Raiders as his ideal destination during the 2022 offseason. Carr played a key part in Las Vegas becoming Adams’ preferred landing spot, but he said before the team’s Week 18 game last year — a contest the Raiders played after Carr left the team — he wanted to stick around. Through four games, Adams does not appear to have changed his mind.

Even as the Raiders struggled in Josh McDaniels‘ debut — a season in which Carr took a statistical step back — Adams showed he could thrive independent of Aaron Rodgers, posting a third straight first-team All-Pro season. This year, the 30-year-old wideout is at 33 receptions for 397 yards and three touchdowns. He caught six passes for 66 yards and no scores last week sans Garoppolo, and while the Raiders passed on drafting a quarterback despite visiting with each of this class’ top signal-callers, Fowler adds Adams is high on fourth-round rookie Aidan O’Connell.

Khalil Mack‘s six-sack spree notwithstanding, O’Connell threw for 238 yards and had the Raiders at the Chargers’ 3-yard line in the final minutes. An Asante Samuel Jr. interception nixed a potential game-tying score, though O’Connell also fumbled twice as Mack revved up. Garoppolo is not in any present danger of losing his job. But O’Connell profiles as a player to watch, especially considering he sits behind the NFL’s most injury-prone starting quarterback and became the Raiders’ pick after they met with Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson, Will Levis and Hendon Hooker.

If the Raiders’ struggles continue, Adams’ status will be worth monitoring. His five-year, $140MM contract also features a fully guaranteed 2024 salary ($16.89MM), with a total of $42.9MM injury guarantee shifting to a full guarantee this past March. This would affect Adams’ trade value, but for now, that appears a moot point for a Raiders team that has seen Adams and No. 2 wideout Jakobi Meyers produce to start the season.

Raiders To Start Aidan O’Connell At Quarterback In Week 4

The Raiders are expected to start fourth-round rookie Aidan O’Connell at quarterback in their Week 4 matchup with the division-rival Chargers, as Ian Rapoport of reports. Jeremy Fowler of first reported that Las Vegas was leaning in that direction.

Offseason acquisition Jimmy Garoppolo completed the team’s Week 3 loss to the Steelers, though he sustained a concussion during that contest and went into the league’s concussion protocol. He was not able to clear the protocol in time for today’s game against the Bolts, leaving head coach Josh McDaniels with an interesting choice to make.

The Raiders also signed soon-to-be 38-year-old Brian Hoyer in free agency and guaranteed over $4MM of his two-year contract. Hoyer has dressed as Garoppolo’s backup in each of the first three games of the 2023 campaign and has started 40 games in his NFL career, the most recent of which came just last season. However, it has been seven years since Hoyer last won a game that he started, and McDaniels declined to confirm that the veteran would fill in for Garoppolo if necessary.

O’Connell had an impressive preseason, completing 43 of 62 passes for 482 yards and three TDs over Las Vegas’ three-game slate, which led many to believe that he would overtake Hoyer on the depth chart sooner rather than later. The Chargers may represent something of a soft landing for him, as Los Angeles is giving up a league-worst 337 passing yards per game over the first three weeks of the regular season.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter points out that Hoyer and O’Connell both took reps in practice during the early part of last week, but by the end of the week, O’Connell was taking most, if not all, of the reps.

“I think the preseason was valuable for me at the time, just to get out there and play and get it under my belt,” O’Connell said. “But I think at this point it’s pretty far gone and it’s different teams and different schemes and different game plans for us. So I’m happy it happened, but it’s time to move on, I think, and see what happens.”

The Raiders and Chargers are both 1-2 and are looking to keep pace with the 2-1 Chiefs in the AFC West.

Raiders’ Brian Hoyer Considered Retirement

Brian Hoyer has gone from the Patriots’ injured reserve list to receiving key Raiders offseason reps, as Jimmy Garoppolo recovers from his latest surgery. A former UDFA, Hoyer ran the Raiders’ offense during their spring work.

This unusual opportunity comes after the veteran quarterback considered retirement following the 2022 season, Vic Tafur of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Hoyer, 37, has been in the NFL since 2009, when he signed with New England. A multi-stint Patriot backup, Hoyer wrapped his latest run with the team last season.

[RELATED: Tom Brady Insists He Will Stay Retired]

Before Bailey Zappe received an unexpected chance to start as a rookie, Hoyer replaced Mac Jones after the Pats starter suffered a high ankle sprain. Hoyer started against the Packers in October and completed 5 of 6 passes, but he made it just 15 snaps before a concussion sidelined him. The journeyman arm did not play again last season. Hoyer was not expected to miss the rest of the year and believed he was ready to be activated later in the season, but the Pats kept him on IR.

The Raiders, who have brought in several ex-Josh McDaniels Patriots charges, had Hoyer on their radar as a mentor type before signing Garoppolo. After a Patriots release, Hoyer secured $4.21MM guaranteed on a two-year, $4.5MM contract. That proved enough to convince the 14-year vet to keep going. The Raiders attempted to retain Jarrett Stidham, but he opted for a $5MM guarantee to be Russell Wilson‘s Broncos backup. Hoyer will turn 38 in October. While the Michigan State alum has not made more than one start in a season since 2017 — when he opened the Kyle Shanahan era as San Francisco’s starter — Garoppolo’s injury history certainly opens the door for a late-career opportunity in Las Vegas.

Garoppolo is expected to be cleared from his foot surgery before training camp, but the ex-Patriots backup and 49ers starter has battled a number of maladies over the past few seasons. Signed to a three-year, $72.75MM deal — one that now includes an injury waiver — Garoppolo has missed 31 games since his September 2018 ACL tear. Since a healthy 2019 season that ended in Super Bowl LIV, Garoppolo has battled ankle, calf, thumb, shoulder and foot trouble.

The Raiders view Hoyer as a mentor to fourth-round pick Aidan O’Connell, whom Tafur adds will be groomed as a potential long-term backup. Hoyer took the first-team reps during the Silver and Black’s offseason program, but if Garoppolo goes down, it will be interesting to see if the Raiders move Hoyer into action or go with the untested O’Connell. Hoyer, who had the 2014 Browns in the playoff race and piloted the 2015 Texans to the AFC South title, has made 40 career starts. The past 12 of those have not produced a win.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/11/23

With many rookie minicamps set to start tomorrow, teams were busy today inking draft picks to contracts. We’ve compiled those signings below:

Cleveland Browns

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

  • DT Cameron Young (fourth round, Mississippi State)
  • C Olusegun Oluwatimi (fifth round, Michigan)
  • S Jerrick Reed II (sixth round, New Mexico)

Tennessee Titans

  • TE Josh Whyle (fifth round, Cincinnati)
  • OT Jaelyn Duncan (sixth round, Maryland)
  • WR Colton Dowell (seventh round, Tennessee-Martin)