Dec 8, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and owner Mark Davis on the field before the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Raiders should stay young at quarterback in 2014

All January Just Blog Baby will be previewing the 2014 offseason and recapping the 2013 Oakland Raiders season. Check back daily for breaking news, columns, and analysis from the JBB staff. 

As many know, the Oakland Raiders are going to be one of the most intriguing teams in the NFL during the 2014 offseason. Boasting massive amounts of cap space and having a long list of needs and few surefire locks on their depth chart, general manager Reggie McKenzie has many decisions to make that will be deciding the route the Raiders will be taking in their rebuild for years to come.

One of those decisions is at quarterback, a position that current head coach Dennis Allen has been on the record as saying the Raiders might not have the answer for the future on their current roster. That goes as no surprise as the Raiders have the undrafted and undersized Matt McGloin and the limited Terrelle Pryor along with newly signed veteran Trent Edwards as quarterbacks currently.

Looking for a 2014 starter, McKenzie has three options. Stick with McGloin/Pryor (the unlikeliest option, but we will get back to this), go through the draft, or explore the list of free agent quarterbacks that are available this spring. All three options have no guarantees, but I lean towards free agency as being a bad idea for a variety of reasons:

Weak Free Agency Class

Following is a list of the 2014 Free Agent QB’s from overthecap.com

Michael Vick Eagles $7,500,000
Chad Henne Jaguars $3,375,000
Josh Freeman Vikings $2,833,334
Shaun Hill Lions $2,750,000
Charlie Whitehurst Chargers $1,525,000
David Garrard Jets $1,000,000
Rex Grossman Redskins $960,000
Jon Kitna Cowboys $940,000
Dan Orlovsky Buccaneers $905,000
Kellen Clemens Rams $870,000
Josh McCown Bears $865,000
Seneca Wallace Packers $840,000
Luke McCown Saints $840,000
Derek Anderson Panthers $840,000
Tarvaris Jackson Seahawks $840,000
Jimmy Clausen Panthers $807,500
Matt Flynn Packers $715,000
Trent Edwards Bears $715,000
Brady Quinn Rams $715,000
Jordan Palmer Bears $715,000
Colt McCoy 49ers $702,500
Curtis Painter Giants $630,000
Rusty Smith Titans $630,000
Joe Webb Vikings $508,129

As you can see the options are fairly bleak since Jay Cutler resigned with the Bears for a massive payday. Other than the possibility of a return of a rejuvenated Josh McCown who has thrived under a passing head coach in Marc Trestman there is not one unrestricted QB on that list that could be a long term solution for the Raiders.

Mike Vick could be a potential option if the Raiders want to make a move and wait for the 2014 draft, but his durability issues since recreating himself with the Eagles are a concern. His desire to start could see him wanting to potentially land in Oakland, but like the other QB’s on the list he is past his prime, and the majority of the UFA’s available beyond him have been career backups or busts.

Loaded Draft Class 

There is no secret surrounding the potential talent of the 2014 draft class when it comes to quarterbacks. Beyond Teddy Bridgewater who is the consensus number one draft pick, the Raiders will have a chance at potentially landing Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Fresno State’s Derek Carr, or UCF’s Blake Bortles in one of the first two rounds during the draft.

Past the top four QB’s also lays a goldmine of value QB’s who have fallen due to injury, particularly SEC QB’s Aaron Murray of Georgia and LSU’s Zach Mettenberger who are both pocket QB’s that suffered ACL injuries during the second half of their senior seasons after being attached to the list of potential franchise QB’s early in the season.

McKenzie could pick from that list of QB’s and feel relatively safe that he would have at the very least a potential future starter for the Raiders with the proper situation and coaching development surrounding him. At the very least, if McKenzie picks a QB in the first two, or even three rounds he will have a quarterback that makes far more sense in their rebuilding process than a retreat unrestricted free agent quarterback from this year’s class.

McGloin’s Potential Could Develop for 2014

While he only won a single game against the Texans (and Pryor fans will let you know) Matt McGloin showed promise during his stint as Raiders starter, developing the offense into a respectable passing attack even if the team lost pretty much every game he started during their catastrophe of a second half to the 2013 season.

McGloin’s value was about more than wins and losses, as the undrafted rookie from Penn State still looked like one of the best rookie QB’s in the NFL this year despite receiving little to no first team snaps until Pryor went down to injury. When starting, the Raiders passing game and the play of wide receivers Rod Streater and Andre Holmes were at their career highs as was the play of rookie tight end Mychal Rivera. Throughout the year it was clear that McGloin was the top choice of Allen and offensive coordinator Greg Olson and even with the limitations that McGloin has from a measurables standpoint, he still should be considered as a prospect from the 2013 draft class more than he should be considered as an undrafted free agent by virtue of beating out fourth round pick Tyler Wilson at training camp and for the rest of the season.

There is no way to prove that McGloin will improve over the offseason and continue to show the type of performances that showcased his underrated potential to be built into a starting QB, but if the Raiders don’t want to commit to a high draft pick he might be the best and only answer to keep the Raiders competitive next year while holding out for their franchise QB in the next offseason.

Conclusion 

Whatever route Reggie McKenzie chooses this offseason at quarterback is going to be one of the main factors in the Raiders success or failure when it comes to the rebuilding process that McKenzie was handpicked to lead two seasons ago. Already missing on QB moves with Matt Flynn and Tyler Wilson in the past offseason, McKenzie can’t afford to miss again.

With the lukewarm market on free agent QB’s and one of the more talented QB classes in recent memory and a potential prospect in either McGloin or Pryor if they can improve before training camp the most logical move for McKenzie is to stay young. A team that has tried time again to pin their hopes on a once explosive talent should learn from its old ways and try to build itself a franchise QB. JaMarcus Russell still looms in the Raiders minds as a reminder of the uncertainty of the draft and NFL success, but the new front office should know that their jobs depend on finding the top QB every team in the NFL needs these days to reach the playoffs. This offseason, simply staying young appears to be the most logical option to attempt to find that longterm answer at quarterback.

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