When the Raiders lost Derek Carr at the end of the 2016 season, they also lost any hope of making a run through the postseason.
Backup quarterbacks Matt McGloin and rookie Connor Cook – pressed into service when McGloin was injured – were ineffective. In the playoff loss to Houston in the first round, Cook was overmatched in his first pro start.
Now it appears the Raiders will be a bit better off in 2017 should something happen again to Carr.
Former Buffalo Bills starting quarterback EJ Manuel reportedly has agreed to terms with the Raiders to replace McGloin and compete with Cook for the primary backup role behind Carr.
Manuel, a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft out of Florida State, started 10 games that season for Bills. He eventually lost his starting job, however, and has started just seven games over the past three seasons.
In his rookie season, Manuel – a 6-foot-5, 237-pounder – completed 58.8 percent of his throws for 1,972 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions for a quarterback rating of 77.7. Overall, he’s completed 58.3 percent of passes for 19 TDs, 15 interceptions and a rating of 77.5.
Manuel is a big, strong-armed passer who probably has a better skill set than either McGloin or Cook. And, even though his play in Buffalo was inconsistent at best, Manuel believes he’s become a much more adept quarterback in the three years since he lost his regular starting role, especially in his ability to read defenses.
“I think coverage recognition is probably night and day,” he told a writer for the Bills website late in the 2016 season. “It’s much better. It was an area where I felt I needed to grow from a year ago. Going against our first-team defense every day the past 15 or 16 weeks has helped me out tremendously. That’s probably the biggest thing.”
Manuel was tagged as a major bust for the Bills, who eventually replaced him at quarterback with Tyrod Taylor. But, new Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing has some history with Manuel, having served as quarterbacks coach with the Bills in 2014.
The Raiders have not yet made any official announcement of Manuel’s signing.