After the Las Vegas Raiders made the decision to pivot away from Derek Carr, fans have been curious about the team’s next move. Well, it seems general manager Dave Ziegler doesn’t feel pressured to devise a quick fix-it plan.
Ziegler joined Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan and nine-year linebacker Will Compton for an episode of “Bussin’ With The Boys,” and said something that will make impatient Raiders fans roll their eyes.
“We’re in charge of filling the most important position on the team,” said Ziegler. “There’s some pressure that comes along with that and however we fill it, it doesn’t mean we’re going to have an immediate answer this year.”
Related: Las Vegas Raiders general manager gives surprising thoughts on QB situation
Essentially, Ziegler spoke about the team’s quarterback situation with a sense of patience, though he did say that the club must come up with an answer. His recent comments mesh with what he said at the end of the 2022 season.
“We are trying to build a consistent winner and not just try and catch lightning in a bottle,” he said (via The Athletic’s Vic Tafur).
Expensive veteran options in trade market and NFL free agency
Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels may prefer a stopgap quarterback on a modest contract rather than Aaron Rodgers, who may be available via trade in the coming days at a significant cost.
In a mailbag response, The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman noted that Rodgers may cost two first-rounders and a third-rounder or a “player of significance” in a deal. With several roster needs to address on both sides of the ball, Ziegler may balk at that compensation request for Rodgers.
Per Spotrac, Jimmy Garoppolo may command $34.9 million per year, coming off an injury-riddled campaign (broken foot). Keep in mind that he’s only thrown for more than 20 touchdowns in one out of four seasons in a full-time starting role with the San Francisco 49ers. Is Ziegler willing to overpay for a quarterback with average production and a recent history of injuries?
Las Vegas Raiders have questionable draft options at No. 7
If Ziegler isn’t willing to move up for a top quarterback prospect, he may have to choose between Will Levis and Anthony Richardson with the No. 7 overall pick. While both signal-callers have intriguing physical tools, the latter more than the former, both prospects may need a year of development before they see live action on the field.
This past season, Levis played through injuries and his passing production dipped with changes to his supporting cast. He lost his top two wideouts from the 2021 campaign in Wan’Dale Robinson and Josh Ali. Nonetheless, Levis’ ball placement isn’t up to par with a top-10 pick, and he struggled against blitz-heavy defenses, which is something he must work on before facing creative defensive coordinators on the pro level.
As for Richardson, he has one year of starting experience in college. While a team will likely bet on his size (6-4, 232 lbs) coupled with his physical tools, he’s a tough sell at No. 7. The Florida product needs quite a bit of seasoning to work on his accuracy (53.8 percent completion rate in 2022).
In the first round, the Las Vegas Raiders GM must be careful not to overvalue prospects in panic mode, which is why we shouldn’t rule out the possibility that Las Vegas Raiders takes a signal-caller in the second or third round.
NFL Draft day 2 quarterback options
According to The Draft Network’s Ryan Fowler, the Raiders have “met extensively” with Tennessee product Hendon Hooker, who tore his ACL in November.
Before Hooker went down, he seemed prime to become a first or second-round pick in the 2023 draft. The former Volunteer has thrown for 58 touchdowns and just five interceptions and rushed for 1,046 yards along with 10 touchdowns over the last two years.
Hooker expects to participate in training camp, per ESPN’s Pete Thamel. Only eight months removed from a torn ACL, he’ll likely take the practice field with limitations. Teams may shy away from him because he’s going to be a 25-year-old rookie who’s recovering from a serious knee injury, which may allow the Raiders to pick him up in the middle rounds at a good value.
If not Hooker, Ziegler, and McDaniels may consider Tanner McKee out of Stanford. He’s a pure pocket passer with little wiggle under center, but the 6-6, 230-pounder looks the part with a good number of NFL throws on his college tape despite a lackluster group of skill players around him.
McKee doesn’t offer much with his legs and doesn’t have the passing numbers to garner first-round buzz, but the Las Vegas Raiders may see something in him to take a chance on his prototypical size and arm in the third round.
While Vegas may not roll out a star player or top prospect under center for the upcoming season, Ziegler must resist the urge to swing big out of panic to fill the most important need on the roster. However, he should make an aggressive move for the right fit in McDaniels’ system.
If the Las Vegas Raiders go with a combination of a bargain-bin veteran (Jarrett Stidham or Jacoby Brissett) and a middle-round rookie quarterback, they may find themselves in the 2024 Caleb Williams sweepstakes, but that would happen at the cost of hitting rock bottom in 2023.
Maurice Moton covers the Raiders for Sportsnaut. You can follow him on Twitter at @MoeMoton.