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Las Vegas Raiders roster review: Quarterbacks

Breven Honda

In 2021, the Las Vegas Raiders’ quarterbacks were challenged right from the start when they lost a few offensive linemen. Then, they encountered a mid-season coaching change with an interim head coach who became the first interim head coach in the Super Bowl Era to lead his team to the playoffs.

Today, we look back at the Raiders quarterbacks and the roles they played this past season.

Related: Why the Las Vegas Raiders made a great decision with Josh McDaniels

Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders starter

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Las Vegas Raiders
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In 2021, if there was any one player from the Raiders who went through the most adversity, it was probably quarterback Derek Carr.

Some way somehow as the season progressed, Carr had to turn tragedy into triumph.

From having a new play caller midway through the season to a young offensive line and at one point losing five out of six games, Carr found a way to turn the Las Vegas’ ship around and win the final four games to make the playoffs.  

Whether it was the game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Zay Jones in Week 1, finding wide receiver Hunter Renfrow on third down with 42 seconds in the fourth quarter to keep the season alive in Indianapolis or finding Jones on third-and-8 against Los Angeles in overtime, Carr was determined to find success during a season that saw a lot of turmoil.

With the Raiders clinching a spot in the postseason, Carr was able to play in his first playoff game after being sidelined with an ankle injury during the team’s 2016 run.

This past season, the 30-year-old completed 68% of his passes, threw 23 touchdowns and recorded career-highs with 4,804 passing yards and 428 completions.

The 4,804 yards ranked fifth among NFL quarterbacks this past season and was battling with former Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Tom Brady for the top spot for the majority of the campaign.

Carr did throw 14 interceptions, which were the most he has thrown in a season in his eight-year career.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders 2022 opponents revealed

Not only did the three-time Pro Bowler lead his teammates on the field, he did so off the field as team went through so much turmoil.

Following Las Vegas’ loss in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs, Carr said this team was like no other through their trust and belief in one another with the resiliency of finding a way to win.

“The brotherhood is different and that’s why I said it would be nice to go on a run with this team,” Carr said. “‘Were we the most talented team in the world?’ No, probably not. But this is the closest, best team I’ve ever been on.”

Now, Carr will enter 2022 with one year remaining on his contract as the Raiders welcomed Josh McDaniels as their new head coach and Dave Ziegler as their new general manager on Monday.

The connection Carr makes with McDaniels and Ziegler will decide whether he remains with the Raiders for years to come or is a stopgap option.

Marcus Mariota

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Rams
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

In 2021, Marcus Mariota was not only used as Carr’s backup under center, he was also a change-of-pace quarterback. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson had a set of plays for Mariota to give opponents a different look in order to extend drives, even if it was for only one play.

Early on in the season, Mariota was sidelined with a quadriceps injury that first flared up in the preseason and popped up again during the team’s first game against Baltimore after a long 31-yard run.

As a result, the former Heisman Trophy winner was put on injured reserve for about a month.

When healthy, Mariota’s page in the playbook was used across nine games.

Against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, the Raiders had some fun deep in the red zone with Mariota under center and Carr out wide. Mariota took the snap, faked the handoff and dove into the endzone for his lone touchdown of the year, leading to Las Vegas’ 36-33 overtime win.

In total, Mariota recorded 13 rushes for 87 yards and completed 1-of-2 passes for four yards.

Mariota, who has spent the last two seasons on the Ninth Island, is a free agent this offseason and if Carr can do some convincing, there is a possibility he returns to the Silver and Black to fill the back up quarterback duties.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders roster review, tight ends

Nathan Peterman

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at San Francisco 49ers
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

For most of the season, Nathan Peterman was the team’s third-string quarterback, who was put in the spotlight during the preseason and was the primary backup while Mariota was on injured reserve.

Throughout his four-year career, Peterman had been a backup quarterback following his collegiate career at Tennessee and Pittsburgh.

This past season, Peterman returned to Las Vegas on a one-year contract extension and there were a couple moments throughout the season when there was a possibility the 2017 fifth-round pick would enter a game for the Raiders.

When the Raiders traveled to Pittsburgh for the team’s second game of the season, Carr found tight end Foster Moreau for a touchdown before taking a hit below waist and was down for a few minutes.

With Mariota landing on IR that week, Peterman was the only other quarterback on the active roster. However, there was enough time in between for the trainers to get Carr ready for the next drive.

Although the 27-year-old did not see the field, he was active in the quarterback room for meetings and on the sidelines — giving advice when needed for Carr and Mariota.

Up next: Offensive line