Should the Oakland Raiders let EJ Manuel walk after one year with the team, here are five suitable replacements for him as Derek Carr’s backup quarterback.
Though the Oakland Raiders know that they have a sure thing at starting quarterback in Derek Carr, the guy backing him up in 2018 remains to be seen. Oakland had three quarterbacks on its roster last season in Carr, former Buffalo Bills starter EJ Manuel and former mid-round pick Connor Cook.
Manuel played in two games for the Raiders after Carr suffered a series of transverse process fractures in his back in Week 4’s road loss to the division rival Denver Broncos. Overall, Manuel wasn’t horrible in his six quarters of work versus the Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5.
However, the Raiders didn’t win either game. Manuel had familiarity with offensive coordinator Todd Downing’s offensive strategy from their time together in Buffalo. We just wish Manuel was more accurate of a passer and Downing could have called better games. Which leads us to this.
Manuel will be hitting free agency this spring. While he would be welcomed back on a second contract with the Silver and Black, what if the Raiders decide to move on from him after just one season? Is Cook ready to be Carr’s primary backup? If not, look for Oakland to target a veteran quarterback on the open market. Here are five backup signal callers that could join the 2018 Raiders.
Could the Raiders be the team that pries veteran backup Chad Henne away from the Sunshine State? Henne has spent his entire NFL career playing in Florida as either a member of the Miami Dolphins or the Jacksonville Jaguars. While he has ample starting experience in the past, he has been Blake Bortles‘ backup in North Florida since 2014.
Getting Henne to leave a good thing going in Jacksonville will be hard. The Jaguars have an excellent offensive-minded head coach in Doug Marrone and a strong play caller in offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. While Henne wasn’t shown an ability to beat out an inconsistent Bortles at starting quarterback, he would be a cerebral veteran that could bring along a passer like Carr.
Keep in mind that Jacksonville doesn’t have cap space out the wazoo like it did in the last few free agencies. Jacksonville general manager David Caldwell had done a marvelous job in the last few years in paying a premium for premium free agency talent to revitalize the Jaguars. But does Jacksonville have enough money to pay Henne a couple of million to ride pine again?
Oakland wouldn’t have to pay a ton to land Henne, but he shouldn’t be more than a tertiary option to serve as Carr’s backup. The Raiders won’t win games with Henne thrust into a starting role. However, he could be that extra set of ears and eyes to help Carr progress faster through Gruden’s offense. It should be noted that new Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson worked with Bortles and Henne down in Jacksonville from 2015 to 2016. That could be a factor in all of this.