The Las Vegas Raiders have a lot of work to do before next season if they want to make the playoffs for just the second time since 2003. Nothing, though, is more important than figuring out the quarterback position.
It has become clear that Derek Carr will not develop into a superstar prospect. He has been too erratic over the past few years. Injuries could be at fault, but inconsistency at the quarterback is too damning.
All of which has the Raiders looking in another direction—specifically in NFL free agency. They have been linked to veterans Tom Brady and Andy Dalton, and some have even suggested they take a flier on a trade for Jacksonville Jaguars QB Nick Foles.
None of these options are super appealing. Brady is a big name, but he’s very clear on the downside. The same goes for Dalton and Foles. They are recognizable names, but their production no longer matches up with their reputation.
Holding onto Carr will be cheaper. He hasn’t been paid like a star quarterback, a la Jason Goff of the Los Angeles Rams. The Raiders can float him under center without breaking the bank.
Perhaps if there were a stellar QB in his prime on the open market, the team could go in a different direction. Even then, though, adding a big name who produces will be costly. Throwing the bag at someone doesn’t make much sense when the Raiders aren’t sure they have the ancillary pieces on offense to make the most out of whoever is under center for them.
Besides, Carr might be good enough. His arm strength is in question, but he just completed more than 70 percent of his passes while posting an interception rate comfortably below two. If the Raiders can put some more competent wide receivers around him, he’ll have a chance at piloting a league-average offense.
This isn’t to say the Raiders have to view Carr as their future. Again: He hasn’t built up the goodwill on the field to deserving the benefit of the doubt. But rather than spending big money on a free-agent quarterback who doesn’t really shift their outlook, they should be open to taking one in the upcoming NFL draft.
Most of the flashiest prospects will be gone by the time the Raiders get on the clock at No. 12. They also don’t have picks in the second or third round. But they do have two first-rounders. If someone doesn’t tickle their fancy at No. 12, they should be prepared to roll the dice on a QB prospect at No. 19.