Jayden Daniels

Commanders Sign First-Round QB Jayden Daniels

The Commanders and their top draft choice have crossed off the rookie-deal step in this partnership. No. 2 overall pick Jayden Daniels agreed to terms on his four-year intro NFL pact, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets.

Daniels will be tied to a fully guaranteed $37.75MM deal, one that will come with a fifth-year option for the 2028 season. This marks the third first-round slot deal for a QB for Washington, which drafted Robert Griffin III second overall in 2012 and Dwayne Haskins 15th overall in 2019.

Although some Drake Maye rumors emerged with this draft slot during the run-up to this year’s selection event, Daniels became the widely expected choice. The Commanders rebuffed Raiders interest in the pick. Only one offer is believed to have come in for the selection. Given Antonio Pierce‘s interest in reuniting with the former Arizona State recruit, it was viewed as likely Las Vegas submitted that proposal for No. 2 overall. The Commanders put that issue to rest by drafting the LSU-developed Heisman winner, and the Adam Peters-Dan Quinn regime will build around the dual-threat quarterback.

Washington did not need to give up any assets for Daniels, separating this selection from the 2012 RG3 process, as last year’s eight-game losing streak to close the season secured the No. 2 draft slot behind Chicago. Not many rumors about the Bears’ preference emerged during the pre-draft period, as Caleb Williams was the runaway favorite to begin this draft. As weeks passed, Commanders rumors slowed. Despite Maye being viewed for months as the 1-B in this class, Daniels’ dominant 2023 season allowed him to leapfrog the two-year North Carolina starter.

Transferring from Arizona State in 2022, Daniels — like multiple other QBs in this year’s first round — shined after relocating. While Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix became first-round picks after moving to the Pac-12, Daniels trekked east to raise his stock. Daniels posted an eye-popping stat line in his final season with the Tigers, throwing 40 touchdown passes (compared to four interceptions) and rushing for 1,134 yards and 10 more TDs. Altogether, Daniels accounted for 4,946 yards in 12 games.

After entering his final college season far from a lock to go in the first round, the slender QB will attempt to give Washington its first dependable QB answer since Kirk Cousins. The team traded Sam Howell to the Seahawks and added former No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota in free agency. While Mariota showed in Atlanta he remains capable as a starter, it would surprise if Daniels was not on the field in Week 1.

Daniels’ frame has generated some concerns, with various sources noting the QB weighed in the 180s and 190s during his college seasons. He checked in at 210 pounds this offseason. Bryce Young‘s rookie-year struggles, after ballooning to 204 pounds for his Combine weigh-in, showed the risks an undersized QB can bring. The Panthers, of course, are not giving up on the 2023 top pick just yet; Daniels also offers a much higher upside as a runner by comparison. The five-year college QB’s ability to protect himself this season will be paramount, however.

Griffin’s inability to stay healthy preceded a quick decline after a dazzling rookie season, and Washington could not re-sign Cousins after a lengthy franchise tag saga. Alex Smith did come back from his gruesome leg injury, but he retired soon after that surprising re-emergence. The team’s Carson Wentz effort failed, and it passed on a big-ticket pursuit — centering its offseason around Howell — last year. Following years of half-measure efforts to staff this job, Washington hired a new regime that will bet on Daniels.

Commanders GM Adam Peters Addresses Jayden Daniels Selection

The Commanders landed LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels with the No. 2 overall pick in last month’s draft, a pick that generated a great deal of the usual speculation and conjecture in the weeks leading up to the event. For instance, multiple sources suggested that Michigan passer J.J. McCarthy would be Washington’s selection, while others thought that UNC’s Drake Maye would be first-year GM Adam Peters‘ choice (and still others believed Peters should trade down).

In a piece detailing the Commanders’ evaluation of Daniels, which will be especially relevant to Washington fans, John Keim of ESPN.com notes that Peters did indeed have a high grade on McCarthy thanks to the former Wolverine’s efficiency, strong arm, and mobility. McCarthy ultimately slotted right behind Daniels on the Commanders’ list of QB options and ahead of Maye and Michael Penix Jr., whom the team also scouted heavily.

In 2023, Peters was with the 49ers, a club that was not in the market for a first-round passer. So he did not begin evaluating the 2024 draft class of blue chip signal-callers before he took the Washington job, but once he finally got to review Daniels’ film, he became “smitten” with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.

“The way he can process, the way he can see the field, the way he goes through his reads, the way he delivers [the ball] on time,” Peters said. “He’s the best deep-ball thrower in the draft, and that’s even before we start watching him run and the way he runs he just takes your soul as a defense. You think you got him and then all of a sudden, he rips off a 40-yard run. And this is against the SEC, the best of the best.”

Prior to the interview that team brass conducted with Daniels at the scouting combine in February, Peters told a group including owner Josh Harris, head coach Dan Quinn, offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, and front office consultant Bob Myers that “something has to happen [for the pick] to not be Jayden.” 

As the predraft process went on, Peters’ conviction only got stronger as he realized that Daniels’ work ethic and character matched the quality of his game tape. As Keim details, Daniels had the passcode changed at an LSU facility so he could put in more work when the facility would have otherwise been locked, and he also arranged for 5 a.m. workouts with his receivers, a feat that one team source said was particularly impressive to Peters.

Peters also received glowing reviews on Daniels from respected voices back in San Francisco, including Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, one of Daniels’ close friends. Peters said that he never considered trading back in the draft and taking the Commanders out of the running for Daniels, and it sounds as if rival clubs knew he was entrenched in his position. The GM said that he received only one offer for the No. 2 pick — presumably from the Raiders, who were known to covet Daniels — but that proposal “didn’t move the needle.”

It is not yet a sure thing that Daniels will be Washington’s starting quarterback on Week 1 of the 2024 campaign, with free agent acquisition Marcus Mariota available to serve as a bridge to the Daniels era if necessary. Sooner or later, though, Daniels will take the reins, and Peters is delighted by his club’s good fortune.

“We couldn’t be happier,” he said.

Latest On Giants, Vikings’ Offers For Patriots’ No. 3 Overall Pick

While Drake Maye generated split opinions as a prospect during the pre-draft process, the Patriots have a rookie quarterback other teams coveted. New England’s reassembled front office has the trade proposals to confirm the interest.

The Patriots did not close off trade avenues, holding talks leading up to going on the clock for their highest draft choice in 31 years. But buzz in the hours leading up to the draft all but locked in Maye to Foxborough. The Giants and Vikings, who each had been viewed as having steady interest in the North Carolina prospect, did make notable offers for the pick.

We heard post-draft the Giants continued to pursue Maye while the Pats were on the clock. Big Blue offered New England its 2025 first-rounder to move from No. 6 to No. 3; New York’s package included that 2025 first and its second-rounder (No. 47) this year, according to ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan. The Vikings were OK unloading their No. 23 pick (along with No. 11) and their 2025 first to climb to No. 3, per ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss. Ultimately, the Pats balked and will build around Maye.

Considering how the Giants proceeded at No. 6, their pursuit of Maye qualifies as significant. The team has regrouped around Daniel Jones, despite doing steady work on this class’ top QBs. The Giants chose Malik Nabers over J.J. McCarthyMichael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix. Each passer visited the team during the draft run-up, with Raanan adding the team did not have this QB crop’s second tier graded highly enough for an investment at No. 6.

We had a lot of conversations with a lot of teams,” Giants GM Joe Schoen said. “I’m not going to get into specifics. We had a really good player at six. That was a position that I think was a need that we needed to upgrade. I’m fired up about the kid.”

The Giants’ Maye interest points to another make-or-break season for Jones, whose $40MM-per-year contract can be shed without too much damage in 2025. Jones performed well enough in his previous “prove it” season (2022), becoming the first QB to see his fifth-year option declined and then re-sign with that team. And Nabers profiles as the top target the 2019 first-rounder has been given while with the Giants. But Jones, who is expected to be finished with ACL rehab by training camp, is clearly on the clock once again.

The Vikings’ proposal also included two Patriots mid-round picks this year going to Minnesota, per Reiss. Going into the draft, the Patriots were not impressed with the offers they had received. As the Giants’ 2025 first-rounder dangled as an important chip — as the Pats would have only stepped back three spots in this draft and picked up a second — the Vikings essentially had to include two future firsts to present a viable offer. It cost the 49ers their 2022 and ’23 first-rounders, along with a third, to vault nine spots (No. 12 to No. 3) for Trey Lance in 2021. After New England passed, Minnesota did not end up needing to trade its No. 23 overall pick — later used to move up for Dallas Turnerto land McCarthy.

Each of this draft’s non-Caleb Williams first-round QBs trekked to Minnesota to meet with the Vikings before the draft. All but Jayden Daniels participated in a workout, with SI.com’s Albert Breer adding Daniels — who did not go through QB drills at the Combine or LSU’s pro day — passed on this part of the Vikings visit. Daniels had long been expected to go No. 2 to Washington, which was far less likely to trade the pick — despite the Raiders’ efforts — compared to the Patriots.

After Mac Jones could not sustain his rookie-year momentum — as the Pats cycled through offensive coordinators post-Josh McDaniels — Maye will be tasked with growing into a franchise-caliber passer. The 6-foot-4 prospect may well begin the season behind Jacoby Brissett, but given how this process usually goes, the two-year North Carolina starter should be expected to begin Pats QB1 work well before this season ends.

QB Draft Notes: Penix, Daniels, Nix, Raiders

The biggest surprise of the first round was Michael Penix Jr. hearing his name called eighth overall. The Falcons added to their quarterback room with their top selection, despite having signed Kirk Cousins in free agency last month.

The latter was taken aback by the decision, one which he became aware of while Atlanta was on the clock. Cousins is in place as the starter for multiple years, leaving Penix as a long-term developmental option (albeit one who is older than many other Day 1 signal-callers placed in a similar position). To no surprise, plenty of speculation has resulted from the Penix selection.

Owner Arthur Blank is believed to have driven this move, Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda reports. The quarterback position was seen as a sore spot entering the 2024 offseason and while the Cousins signing marked a short-term upgrade, the Penix addition is of course one aimed at future stability under center. Owners are often involved in major moves at the top of the draft board such as this one, but how the 2024 season (and beyond) unfolds with GM Terry Fontenot and head coach Raheem Morris at the helm will make for a key storyline vis-à-vis Penix’s path to playing time.

Here are some other QB-related draft notes:

  • Penix was the fourth signal-caller selected on Thursday, but Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer notes the Heisman runner-up was ranked third on the Falcons’ board. Some in the organization even had Penix second, Breer adds. The Washington alum was seen in some circles as a borderline Day 1 prospect, but his top-10 selection has cemented his status as a central figure in Atlanta’s long-term plans while also helping the value of his rookie contract.
  • As the top of the first round order played according to expectation, Jayden Daniels was selected second overall by the Commanders. That move came about after the team held an unusual evaluation featuring overlapping visits amongst the class’ best quarterbacks. While that limited Daniels’ availability to get face-to-face time on his own in many respects, Breer notes the Heisman winner was the only prospect who was permitted an “extended, exclusive meeting” with new owner Josh Harris. Given that update, it comes as even less of a surprise Washington followed through with drafting Daniels upon turning down trade interest.
  • Bo Nix was often mentioned alongside Penix as part of the 2024 class’ second tier of passers. Denver added him with the No. 12 pick, though, making him the sixth QB to hear his name called. The Broncos had Nix positioned third on their board, per Troy Renck of the Denver Post. With every other Day 1 passer having previously come off the board, that internal ranking is of course a relatively moot point. Nix will nevertheless enter one of the more intriguing quarterback rooms in 2024.
  • One of the suitors left out in terms of QB pursuit was the Raiders, a team known to have been very high on Daniels in particular. Vegas’ decision-makers were of the opinion there was a “sizable gap” between the top tier of Caleb Williams, Daniels and Drake Maye and the other passers, however, as The Athletic’s Vic Tafur reports (subscription required). For that reason, Tafur notes it would have been unlikely the Raiders drafted Penix or Nix even if they were on the board with the 13th pick. In an case, the team added tight end Brock Bowers with its top selection as part of the unprecedented run on offensive players to begin the draft.

Commanders Draft QB Jayden Daniels With No. 2 Overall Pick

The Commanders have not had a single quarterback start the majority of their games for two seasons in a row since Kirk Cousins did so in 2016 and 2017.

Since then, the team has seen Alex Smith, Josh Johnson, Colt McCoy, Mark Sanchez, Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke, Garrett Gilbert, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Carson Wentz, and Sam Howell all start games under center in Washington. While the trend of consecutive seasons is set to continue 2024, the Commanders will hope to put an end to that trend by drafting Jayden Daniels, quarterback out of LSU.

While Daniels was linked heavily to the Raiders, due to his history with new head coach Antonio Pierce during their time at Arizona State, it is Washington who walks away from Day 1 of the draft with the 23-year-old on their roster.

Pierce and the Raiders reached out late to inquire about a possible trade up to the No. 2 overall spot, but despite their efforts, no trade transpired. There were also rumors that Daniels would refuse to play for Washington and could force a trade, but the LSU quarterback denied those rumors, and Daniels will head to the nation’s capital to compete with Howell for the starting job.

Daniels started his college career at Arizona State, where he became the first ever true freshman to start the season opener for the Sun Devils. After a COVID-19 pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Daniels struggled in his third year in Tempe, resulting in his transfer to Baton Rouge. At LSU, Daniels was back to his old self and more. In 2022, he matched his impressive freshman passing stats while leading the country in rushing yards for a quarterback.

This past year, Daniels not only improved his rushing prowess, running for 1,134 yards and 10 touchdowns on only 135 carries, but he also showed a stark improvement in his passing abilities. After previously failing to surpass 3,000 passing yards or 20 touchdowns, Daniels completed 72.2 percent of his passes for 3,812 yards and an incredible 40 touchdowns while only getting intercepted four times. He finished 2023 seventh in the FBS in completion percentage, fifth in passing yards, first in passing yards per attempt, second in passing touchdowns, and first in rating. He also, once again, led the nation’s quarterbacks in rushing yards. These impressive efforts resulted in Daniels being awarded the Heisman Trophy and the Davey O’Brien Award (awarded to the NCAA’s best quarterback).

In Washington, Daniels will now have the opportunity to compete with Howell for the starting job. Howell led the Commanders to a 4-13 record in his first season as a full-time starter. While he was able to amass 3,946 passing yards and 21 passing touchdowns, he and the team’s struggles were highlighted by Howell leading the NFL in pass attempts (612), interceptions (21), and sacks taken (65).

Daniels will also be inherited by a new coaching staff that includes former Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as the new head coach. Daniels’ new mentor, though, will be new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury who famously brought up Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech before handling Kyler Murray‘s first few seasons in Arizona. It will be interesting to see if the Commanders make Daniels earn the starting job in a position battle with Howell, or if they decide to instill their confidence in him by announcing him as the future at the position.

Drake Maye Latest: Patriots, Ownership, Daniels, McCarthy, Giants, Vikings

5:58pm: To little surprise, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports teams around the league believe New England will retain the third overall pick and use it on Maye. That would meet the team’s goal of adding a prospect capable of becoming a franchise passer and fall in line with the way draft winds have been blowing for quite some time. It would also, of course, increase attention on the Cardinals as the first team in position to select a non-QB.

10:34am: With Caleb Williams ticketed for Chicago and Jayden Daniels moving into clear pole position with Washington, where Drake Maye will end up has become perhaps this draft’s top talking point. A number of teams are on the radar for the two-year North Carolina starter, though the Patriots look set to have the right of first refusal.

Expected to come out of the first round with a passer, the Pats hosted Maye on a visit and have done plenty of work on this QB class. While trade-down rumblings have emerged, it does not appear strong offers have come the Pats’ way. They are expected to keep the No. 3 overall pick, and NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran believes Maye will be the Pats’ choice — barring a monster trade offer changing their mind. Curran mentions the Giants and Vikings as the teams that could change the Patriots’ mind with a big proposal.

This move would stand to appease ownership, which is taking a more hands-on role during this pre-draft process compared to how things ran under Bill Belichick. Pats ownership seems to carry a “strong preference” Eliot Wolf and Co. leave Round 1 with a quarterback, ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano notes. While rumors of the Pats having Michael Penix Jr. in their back pocket — in the event they trade out of No. 3 — the Washington prospect has since generated buzz about rising into the top 10. That may still be the less likely scenario for the left-hander, but the Pats would be taking a risk if they traded out of No. 3.

The Patriots are believed to, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, have Daniels rated ahead of Maye — a ranking we first heard about during the Combine — but that may well be a moot point due to the Commanders holding the No. 2 choice. Washington GM Adam Peters and OC Kliff Kingsbury are believed to be high on Daniels, setting up a Patriots Maye-or-J.J. McCarthy call. Washington is not expected to trade down, much to Las Vegas’ chagrin. Any (likely irrelevant) Daniels preference aside, Fowler adds the Pats still like the upside Maye — who, at 21, is two years younger than the reigning Heisman winner — brings to the table.

Maye met with the Patriots, Commanders and Giants and worked out for the Vikings in Minnesota. In the view of the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin, the 6-foot-4 prospect spoke more glowingly of his Giants meeting compared to how things went in Foxborough. Maye also declined to say if he met with Robert Kraft during his visit. The Giants, who hold the No. 6 pick, employ the play-caller in place when Josh Allen‘s ascent began (Brian Daboll). The Patriots are in transition, with Alex Van Pelt set to work as a regular play-caller for the first time — save for a 2020 Browns-Steelers wild-card game Kevin Stefanski missed due to COVID-19 — in 15 years.

The Giants and Vikings have a vested interest in how the Patriots proceed. The tide has either turned for the Giants in their Maye-or-McCarthy preference, or an elaborate smokescreen operation is afoot. Maye-Giants connections have continued to come out of New York, and ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan furthers them by offering that the recent Tar Heels standout is indeed the QB — among the options expected to be within their reach — the team covets.

That said, McCarthy chimed in (during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show) by saying he spent more time with the Giants than any other team during the run-up to the draft. The Michigan prospect joins Maye in receiving intense scrutiny, and while he was more closely tied to the Giants weeks ago, the Broncos have been linked to him more recently. It would be costly for Denver to move up from No. 12 for McCarthy or Maye, though it is interesting Sean Payton‘s team has been more closely tied to the former given the recent rumors tying the latter to New York and Minnesota.

Sitting at Nos. 4 and 5, the Cardinals and Chargers have discussed terms with QB-needy teams residing outside the top three. How the Pats proceed will crystallize the value of those choices. Maye being off the board at 3 could weaken the positions of Arizona and Los Angeles, and hours away from the draft, it looks like that will be the case.

Raiders, Cardinals Have Discussed No. 4; Las Vegas Unlikely To Move Up For Non-Jayden Daniels QB?

The Raiders are known to have contacted the Commanders and Chargers about the Nos. 2 and 5 overall picks. It should then come as no surprise to hear the Silver and Black have reached out about the Cardinals‘ No. 4 selection as well.

Arizona has heard from Las Vegas about No. 4, according to ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano. The Cardinals are both setting a high price on their pick and not believed to want to move too far down the board. The Raiders holding No. 13 would complicate this, as it has complicated their long-rumored effort to climb to No. 2 for Jayden Daniels. With the LSU alum (and ex-Antonio Pierce Arizona State charge) likely out of reach, the Raiders’ path has become murky.

Teams view the Raiders as unlikely to move up for a non-Daniels quarterback, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones adds. Las Vegas made Daniels the centerpiece of a trade-up effort likely doomed by the 2023 edition’s strong finish. Pierce’s run as interim HC landed him the full-time job — as the first NFL interim boss to move to regular duty in seven years — but it also dropped the Raiders to an unfavorable draft slot. The team has been connected to Michael Penix Jr. as well, and mock drafts have indeed reflected this interest. Penix’s potential late rise aside, the Raiders may not need to trade up if they truly want the Washington standout.

Daniels has made it clear he is prepared to play for whichever team drafts him, but the dual-threat standout appears to have two destinations ranked above the team he will likely end up with by tonight. The 2023 Heisman winner, “in a dream world,” would end up with either the Raiders or Vikings, The Athletic’s Dianna Russini notes (subscription required). The Vikings also have been linked to interest in trading up for Daniels, and Minnesota — having made no secret, via actions and comments, about interest in acquiring a first-round QB this year — may be comfortable with more QBs compared to most teams.

In the Raiders’ locker room after their Week 18 win over the Broncos, Daniels has been linked to wanting to be a Raider for a bit as well. These hopes are not expected to deter the Commanders, who have been tied to the five-year college QB for a bit now. While Washington has Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy fans in the building as well, GM Adam Peters is believed to be high on Daniels, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe adds.

The Commanders’ QB stance may also have changed as the pre-draft process dragged on. The team was believed to have been moving toward choosing Maye before the Senior Bowl, pro days and Combine, Howe adds.

It is unclear what changed the new Washington regime’s mind, as Daniels did not work out at the Combine or his pro day. The two passers famously visited, along with McCarthy and Penix, together earlier this month (Topfolf was also involved). The pre-draft circuit looks to have sold the new Washington personnel boss on Daniels, who enjoyed a far better 2023 season compared to Maye, who is more than two years younger. Peters was heavily involved in the 49ers’ call to draft Trey Lance in 2021; tonight represents a shot at redemption for the first-time GM.

One exec informed Howe he would not rule out a Daniels slide past No. 2. That scenario would add more intrigue to this draft’s expected QB-centric start, as the Patriots and Cardinals’ picks would suddenly become more valuable if Daniels were still on the board. But the purveying view hours away from Round 1 is Daniels is ticketed for D.C. This stands to leave the Pats with a Maye-McCarthy debate; both QBs are believed to have backers in Foxborough.

Raiders Contact Commanders About No. 2 Pick; No Trade Expected

After new Commanders GM Adam Peters said he did not envision many scenarios in which his team would move off the No. 2 overall pick, the other team that has been regularly connected to Jayden Daniels opted to test the NFC East team’s commitment.

The Raiders indeed contacted the Commanders about a trade-down from No. 2, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo reports. Other teams have inquired about Washington’s selection, but Garafolo and NFL.com colleague Ian Rapoport note the team has not shown an indication it is interested in moving down.

[RELATED: How Will Raiders Address QB Need In Draft?]

Indeed, the draft is expected to start with Caleb Williams and Daniels. While the 2023 Heisman winner is not considered a full-on lock to head to Washington in the way the 2022 Heisman recipient is tied to Chicago at No. 1, SI.com’s Albert Breer offers that most around the NFL expect Daniels to be a Commander by Thursday night.

Not ruling out Drake Maye or J.J. McCarthy to Washington, Breer notes Daniels remains a clear favorite here. It has been trending this way for a bit now. Still, Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson adds Maye and McCarthy fans still exist within the Washington building. These two joined Daniels on that much-discussed mass Commanders visit last week.

It is certainly unsurprising to see the Raiders mentioned as an 11th-hour suitor. Due to Antonio Pierce‘s past with Daniels at Arizona State, they have been connected to the dual-threat talent longer than any NFL team. But Washington lost its final eight games last season, outflanking New England for the right to pick second. The Raiders holding No. 13 overall has long made it unlikely they could put together a package appealing enough to convince a QB-needy Commanders operation to slide down that far.

A report earlier this month offered intrigue about the Raiders’ desire to move up, putting Pierce and new GM Tom Telesco on opposing sides of that debate. Telesco, who has been tied to either Justin Herbert or Philip Rivers throughout his GM career, was said to not be overly enthusiastic about the prospect of sacrificing major draft capital to acquire a quarterback in this draft. Pierce was pegged as being readier to do what it takes to land a long-term passer. The now-full-time HC has not been shy about expressing his interest in such an addition, but the Raiders’ draft slot will bring complications in a year that could feature an NFL-first QB-QB-QB-QB start to a draft.

As it stands now, Gardner Minshew is on track to be Las Vegas’ Week 1 starter. But Daniels is not the only passer the Raiders have been paired with during the draft run-up. Raiders interest in Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. has escalated, at least per multiple reports; the recent national championship game starter could profile as a Daniels consolation prize for Pierce’s team. Then again, a Monday rumor suggested the Patriots could be open to trading back — perhaps with the Vikings (No. 11) or Broncos (No. 12) — and acquiring Penix. Thus far, however, New England is also expected to stay at No. 3 and choose a passer.

Perhaps a final round of Raiders-Daniels buzz circulated last week, when reports pointed to the ex-Arizona State recruit wanting to play for the AFC West team. Barring historically unusual efforts, players do not exactly have a say in who drafts them. Daniels, who attended Las Vegas’ Week 18 game and visited Pierce’s team in the locker room, did not deny interest in being a Raider. But he acknowledged he will be eager to play for whichever team drafts him. It still looks like that will be the Commanders.

The Raiders showed interest in trading up — likely with Daniels in mind — at multiple points this offseason, even to the point they were interested in obtaining the No. 1 pick. The Bears showed next to no interest in making a move, having traded Justin Fields to clear the decks for Williams. The Commanders made a similar move, dealing Sam Howell to the Seahawks and installing Marcus Mariota as a backup/bridge option.

QB Jayden Daniels Addresses Raiders Interest

As the countdown to the draft enters its final days, Jayden Daniels remains the subject of considerable speculation at the top of the board. The Heisman-winning quarterback is in position to be selected as early as second overall by the Commanders, but links to the Raiders have been made throughout the offseason.

Daniels began his college career at Arizona State, where he played under Antonio Pierce. The latter is now in place as the Raiders’ head coach, and Las Vegas has frequently been named as a team to watch regarding a move up the order in general and one targeting Daniels in particular. Recent reports indicated the LSU product is interested in a reunion with Pierce, something he spoke publicly about.

I don’t know how they’re gonna pull it off,” Daniels said during an appearance on the Nightcap Show with Shannon Sharpe and Chad Johnson when asked about landing with the Raiders. “But I mean that’s above my pay grade… A.P. just as a human being, he’s the right coach for that team. You know, just him and the intensity that he brings. He challenges people. He was challenging me at 18.

“So I know if I was to go to the Raiders — I’m not saying I’m gonna go there or I wanna go there, I wanna go wherever my name is called — if I was to go to the Raiders, I know as soon as I step foot, he’s gonna challenge me.”

Multiple signs have pointed to Daniels remaining the favorite to be Washington’s choice, and the QB-needy Commanders are not expected to trade out of the No. 2 slot. Even if the Raiders (currently positioned to pick 13th) pull off a costly move up the board, the team could be consigned to drafting another passer capable of competing for the starting role. If a swap making Daniels available was deemed to not be a feasible option, Vegas could look at other Day 1 prospects and rely on Aidan O’Connell and Gardner Minshew under center.

Pierce and general manager Tom Telesco may not be in lockstep with respect to the team’s quarterback strategy entering their first year working together. The latter could favor a Minshew-O’Connell pairing for 2024, something which would eliminate the possibility of a reunion with Daniels from Pierce’s perspective. It will be interesting to see how aggressive Vegas gets in the coming days regarding trade negotiations for an aggressive QB pursuit.

The Raiders’ draft plans are a key talking point, as is the case for teams like the Giants, Vikings and Broncos. Daniels will remain connected to Vegas in particular over the coming days, especially given his praise of Pierce before learning his fate. A different destination remains likely, and how the Raiders react in the event Daniels is drafted by the Commanders will be a key factor in shaping the first-round landscape.

Latest On Jayden Daniels, Commanders

Despite his seeming lack of agency in the situation, rumors have persisted that LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels prefers not to be drafted by the Commanders. Washington holds the No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, though, so unless Daniels becomes a favorite for No. 1 over USC’s Caleb Williams all of the sudden, it’s up to the Commanders to make that decision. A recent report from Ralph Vacchiano of FOX Sports attempted to dispel the recent rumors, claiming that the situation has been overblown.

The rumors seemed to stem from two different instances. The first was a report that Daniels would love to be drafted by the Raiders. Realistically, this would either require a huge trade up from Las Vegas’ current spot at 13th overall. Or Daniels would need to somehow slip back far enough to still be available by then. The rumor stems from the fact that Daniels and new Raiders head coach Antonio Pierce are familiar with each other from the time the two shared at Arizona State.

The second instance was Daniels’ “top 30” visit with the Commanders. Washington took a strange approach in their “top 30” visits with the draft’s quarterbacks. Instead of hosting each quarterback on their own individual visit, the Commanders invited Daniels, UNC’s Drake Maye, Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. all at the same time. Based on reports that Daniels was caught off guard by this, they seemingly designed the group visit without informing the prospects that their competition would be in attendance.

Still, despite the surprise nature of the visit, it doesn’t seem like there are any hard feelings. Vacchiano reports that any issues have been settled, as the two sides have since spoken. Daniels hasn’t taken the issue personally, and the Commanders view the reported issue as “just noise” that won’t contribute to their eventual decision.

If Washington decides that Daniels is the answer moving forward, they will select him. And, based on a statement from one of Daniels’ representatives, he is “excited” to be in the NFL, regardless of wherever he gets drafted. Does this confirm or dispel rumors that he has a preference? No, but it likely provides assurance that he won’t force the issue later this month.