With so much buzz around Tom Brady and his connection to Josh McDaniels, most prognosticators have placed the Las Vegas Raiders atop the list of possible destinations for the 45-year-old quarterback if he leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While the pairing makes sense, the Silver and Black will have other veteran options, and we’ll explore a few of them.
In all likelihood, McDaniels will pursue a quarterback who’s comfortable in his system. So, naturally, we should consider former and current New England Patriots quarterbacks around the league, except Brian Hoyer, who turns 38 years old in October. McDaniels should consider a well-established quarterback outside the Patriots’ tree as well though.
When you examine the Patriots’ recent quarterback acquisitions via the draft and free agency, most of the signal-callers have been primarily pocket-passers who may not wow you with off-platform throws and athleticism but beat defenses with precision throws and accuracy.
McDaniels allows for improvisation, but he seems to favor quarterbacks who will stay within the structure of his offense — less backyard football and heightened ability to go through progressions and read defenses.
While the pool of available veterans who fit McDaniels’ preferences may be small, we should keep five players at the forefront of our minds. Let’s start with a potential trade target.
Like the Las Vegas Raiders, Green Bay could go through a divorce with their longtime quarterback.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the idea that the Packers could trade Rodgers is a “very real scenario” this offseason. As the NFL insider points out, any team that’s willing to acquire him would pay a hefty price in trade capital (likely a couple of first-round picks) and salary. He’s due $59.5 million in guarantees for the 2023 season. His dead cap money count drops from $99.7 million in 2023 to $24.5 million in 2024, per Spotrac.
Per Schefter, the Packers won’t trade Rodgers within the NFC, which puts quarterback-needy teams in the AFC in play for the four-time league MVP if Green Bay decides to move on from him:
According to NBC Sports’ Peter King, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson “would happily” pay the price to acquire Rodgers. The Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans and even the Miami Dolphins, though they’ve publicly supported Tua Tagovailoa, would also probably sniff around on a deal for the four-time All-Pro signal-caller.
Though the Packers came up short on a late-season push for the 2022 playoffs, Rodgers believes he can still perform at an MVP level:
In 2022, Rodgers threw for 3,695 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions with a young wide receiver group. In Las Vegas, he could reunite with his former longtime teammate in Davante Adams. By the way, the Raiders also have tight end Darren Waller, whom the Packers tried to acquire before the 2022 trade deadline (h/t The Athletic’s Vic Tafur), and Hunter Renfrow.
Unlike Carr, Rodgers doesn’t have a no-trade clause, but he can threaten to retire in the event that Green Bay tries to send him to an unfavorable situation. The 39-year-old quarterback hasn’t even made a firm decision on if he wants to continue his playing career.
Nonetheless, if the Packers decide to go with Jordan Love and dangle Rodgers on the trade market, Ziegler and McDaniels should be all over the opportunity to bring him to Las Vegas. He would keep Adams happy and give the Raiders a fighting chance to compete in the AFC West and for a playoff spot.
The MMQB’s Albert Breer suggested that the Raiders may consider Jimmy Garoppolo as an alternative option to Tom Brady.
Like Brady, Garoppolo will become a free agent in March. The San Francisco 49ers moved up in the 2021 draft to select Trey Lance, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2, and they’re preparing for the NFC Championship Game with rookie seventh-rounder Brock Purdy, who’s won his first seven starts. They have no reason to retain Garoppolo in the offseason.
Garoppolo worked with McDaniels for three campaigns in New England. So, he’s familiar with the offensive system, but he comes with a high risk of injury.
Garoppolo hasn’t played since Week 13 because of a broken foot. Since 2020, he’s missed 18 regular-season games. If the Raiders sign him, they better have a reliable backup who can fill in for an injury-prone signal-caller.
As a starter, Jarrett Stidham isn’t going to stir a lot of excitement within the fanbase, but he’s a practical option who’s been around McDaniels’ system for years and finally had a taste of live action this past season.
In Week 17, Stidham looked impressive against the San Francisco 49ers’ No. 1-ranked total and scoring defense, throwing for 365 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions with a 67.7 percent completion rate. But he followed up with a clunker against the Kansas City Chiefs, throwing for 219 yards, a touchdown and an interception with a 61.1 percent completion rate.
On an overall positive note, Stidham used his legs with seven carries in both outings for a total of 84 yards, which is a major difference from Derek Carr, who seemed reluctant to take off and run in his pre- and post-Jon Gruden years.
Stidham only has two regular-season games under his belt. For his career, he’s thrown for 926 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions with a 58.8 percent completion rate. McDaniels will likely keep him around as a developmental quarterback in the No. 2 or No. 3 spot.
Some Raider fans have wondered why Jacoby Brissett’s name doesn’t come up in more conversations about the team’s potential starting options. Frankly, he’s a decent bridge-gap quarterback. He’s served in that role for two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and one term with the Cleveland Browns. The 30-year-old also filled in for an injured Tua Tagovailoa in five starts during the 2020 campaign.
As a borderline starter and high-end backup, Brissett is an efficient passer who can move in the pocket and close drives in short-yardage situations. In addition to 48 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions with a 61.1 percent completion rate (64 percent in 2022), he’s rushed for 896 yards and 15 touchdowns.
With that said, Brissett has only spent one term in McDaniels’ system (2016) while Garoppolo and Stidham have multiple years of experience. Jones had one season, but he’s started in more games (17) under McDaniels than Brissett, Garoppolo and Stidham combined (six).
If the Raiders strike out on Brady and Garoppolo and the Patriots decide to keep Jones, a Brissett-Stidham combination could be in place with an eye toward selecting a quarterback early in the 2023 draft. Ziegler could have all three quarterbacks on modest deals and create a full-blown open competition for the starting job.
Maurice Moton covers the Raiders for Sportsnaut. You can follow him on Twitter at @MoeMoton.