Raiders QB Aidan O'Connell was better than anyone could have expected in 2023

The Las Vegas Raiders may move on from Aidan O'Connell as their starting quarterback in 2024, but in 2023, he was way better than anyone could have expected.

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders
Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders / Candice Ward/GettyImages

Going into the 2023 NFL season, the hope was that the Las Vegas Raiders would get a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo to replace Derek Carr, and hopefully find some of the magic he used to get the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl a few years back. Instead, they got a run-down version of Jimmy G, as he battled through injuries all season long, played inconsistent football, and was eventually benched.

That benching came after the dismissal of head coach Josh McDaniels, who brought Garoppolo to the desert to try and bring some of the New England winning ways with him. Once McDaniels was shown the door, and Antonio Pierce took over as interim head coach, he quickly made the move to rookie Aidan O'Connell for the rest of the 2023 NFL season.

As a rookie fourth-round pick, we all knew there would be some lows for O'Connell, but when you look at the whole picture, he was much better than anybody could have expected. He was nominated for the AFC's Rookie of the Week 3 times, showed incredible poise in the pocket, all the while winning over teammates like star Davante Adams.

In the end, the rookie threw for 2,218 yards in only ten starts, found the end zone 12 times against seven interceptions, and nearly led the Raiders to a playoff berth. In the final four games of the season, he did not throw a single interception and beat all three AFC West teams down the stretch.

Raiders have a big decision to make with O'Connell this offseason

Before the Raiders make any decision as to who will be the starting quarterback in 2024, they first need to figure out who the general manager and head coach will be. That will go a long way in figuring out what they plan to do, as I am sure Pierce would be comfortable running it back with O'Connell next season after the way he played late in the season.

O'Connell also carries very little in terms of cap space, so the Raiders could maximize the roster around him for the next few seasons. When you look at the rest of the rookie class at the position, only CJ Stroud had a better season than O'Connell, and the fact that the Raiders got him on Day 3 seems like highway robbery at this point.

Whatever they decide, O'Connell proved he belongs in the league, and has the potential to be a starting quarterback for a very long time.