Two years after the much-vaunted return of head coach Jon Gruden the Las Vegas Raiders have seen a lot of turmoil. From the trade of Khalil Mack, the Antonio Brown saga, and the move to Las Vegas that is happening this year.
As an offensive guru, Gruden was expected to bring a much-needed clarity to the Raiders offence, and finally bring out the potential in Derek Carr. But two years in, the Las Vegas Raiders QB room is arguably one of the strangest in the history of the NFL.
Las Vegas Raiders rolling the dice
Having spent much of the last two off-seasons categorically stating that Derek Carr was the Raiders starting QB, Gruden and GM Mike Mayock went out and signed former number one draft pick Marcus Mariota in free agency.
Having been largely a disappointment in Tennessee, Mariota got a two-year $17.6m deal with $7.5m guaranteed (per spotrac). Having not started a full season in his career, Mariota got a pretty decent contract, albeit clearly a backup QB type deal.
Given that, tendering Nathan Peterman as third-stringer is an odd decision. Tying up another $2.1m in your third-string quarterback doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a player with three career touchdown passes and twelve interceptions.
DeShon Kizer also sits on the Raiders roster, earning a cool $1.1m in the final year of his rookie deal. Taking the Browns to only the NFL’s second ever winless season is the only notable thing on Kizer’s resume.
It’s fully understandable for the Raiders to be evaluating the QB position. Derek Carr hasn’t made any kind of noticeable jump in his two-years under Gruden. The move to Las Vegas could’ve been seen as a time to go a bit sexier at the position.
While Derek Carr improved last season, it wasn’t the leap many were hoping for. With a new location coming and new marketing opportunities is Carr still the man for the Las Vegas Raiders?
It seems the men in charge aren’t convinced. Otherwise why shell out a guaranteed $7.5 million on a backup.
Mariota is a quarterback that has never lit the world on fire. When the Titans added Ryan Tannehill to compete with Mariota last season, most expected it would be the catalyst for him to finally take his game up a level and finally live up to the number one overall potential.
Instead, he took the Titans to a 2-4 start and was benched in favour of the former Dolphins QB. Tannehill took the exact same roster all the way to the AFC Championship game before falling short. While a majority of that success may not have been on Tannehill, that almost makes the evaluation of Mariota even worse.
What’s the future plan for the Raiders QB’s
As things stand the Las Vegas Raiders have four losing quarterbacks, Carr (39-55), Mariota (29-32), Kizer (0-15), and Peterman (1-3), competing for the starting job. It’s hard to see any of them developing into a franchise quarterback at this point.
That’s a combined record of 69 wins and 105 losses.
Despite all four quarterbacks having losing records, and two combined playoff starts, the Raiders have a staggering 14.67% of their salary cap tied up in the QB room. At $32.27 million they are paying the third-most for quarterbacks in the NFL in 2020.
Whether Gruden can dramatically improve any of them seems debatable. Carr has had two-years with his new coach, and this offseason is set to be dramatically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Given the major uncertainty at the position and the lack of skill players around them, it looks like being a long season for long-suffering Raiders fans. If the front-office has a long term plan it is very difficult to discern.
It may be that the Raiders will look to address the long-term future in this weeks NFL Draft, but the idea of them carrying five quarterbacks on their roster, despite roster sizes being increased, seems unlikely. That said, they did carry four last season, so the possibility is there.
It’s all but impossible to see the Raiders take a QB in the first round, but it would be feasible to use one on a developmental option with one of their three third round picks. Normally with four quarterbacks on the roster this wouldn’t even be a thought.
But the Las Vegas Raiders QB room really seems to defy all logic, and all hope for a franchise QB.