Maybe it’s Jay Cutler. Maybe Cutler, the talented, strong-armed but often-maligned quarterback who’s played in Chicago and Denver, is destined for Oakland.
Or maybe it’s Michael Vick, Josh McCown or Josh Freeman.
Or, perhaps, it’s none of the veteran free agents who may be available, but a standout college quarterback such as Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville, Blake Bortles of Central Florida, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, Brett Hundley of UCLA or Derek Carr of Fresno State.
Whoever it is, no doubt the Raiders already have their eyes on Options A, B, C and D for 2014, because now that the team has completed its so-called “deconstruction” period, it’s time to rebuild. And without a quarterback, any rebuilding program is doomed.
In addressing the Bay Area media Monday following the final game of the season Sunday, Raiders head coach Dennis Allen – who apparently will be back for a third season despite a second 4-12 season – said quarterback is “a position that we’ve got to make sure that we address.”
“I’m not sure that we have the quarterback of the future in the building right now, but again I think we’ll go through the offseason evaluation process, I think we’ll go back through all the tapes, we’ll comb through everything,” said Allen. “I do think we have a better idea of what we have at the quarterback position, but again I think, listen, that’s the most important position on the football field.”
The Raiders started training camp thinking free-agent pick-up Matt Flynn would be No. 1, but he flopped and was supplanted by Terrelle Pryor. When Pryor was injured, undrafted rookie Matt McGloin stepped into the job and kept it, even when Pryor was healthy again – only to be benched for the final game to give Pryor another look.
The overall verdict for both: some upsides, some downsides and still way too many question marks to pencil in either as the starter for 2014. With Denver, Kansas City and San Diego all in the playoffs from the AFC West, the Raiders can't compete without a Grade A quarterback.
McGloin proved to be a better passer, and the Raiders offense was more potent when he was the starter. Pryor, however, guided the team to three wins – versus just one for McGloin – and brings an explosiveness as a runner that few quarterbacks can match.
McGloin went 118-for-211 (55.9 percent) for 1,547 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions and a passer rating of 76.1 over six starts.
Pryor was 156-for-272 (57.4 percent) for 1,798 yards, seven TDs and 11 interceptions and a passer rating of 69.1 over nine starts. He also rushed for 576 yards, a franchise season record for a quarterback.
There is still much to unfold for the Raiders this offseason, but next to the official announcement of Allen being kept for 2014, the acquisition of a quarterback is the No. 1 priority.
With the fifth overall pick in the draft and some salary cap flexibility – with good talent available in free agency and the draft – it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Raiders sign a veteran, draft another quarterback and keep McGloin and/or Pryor around going into training camp.
After the Flynn flop of a year ago, the Raiders need both quantity and quality going forward.