While Hue Jackson is adamant that Jason Campbell is the unquestioned starter in 2011, a lot of questions still remain about who his back-up is going to be. In the limited time that Kyle Boller was on the field in 2010 he didn’t show any signs of not being the same ol’ Kyle Boller who has been subpar his entire career. I would have to think that Bruce Gradkowski has made his last pass as a Raiders’ quarterback since he wasn’t offered a contract from the Raiders during the brief time when they were able to offer him one. And since the Raiders didn’t take a quarterback in the draft, they will eventually have to fill that second or third string quarterback roster spot. Many people think that they will pick up a free agent, but is there potential out there for a trade for one of the NFL’s available list of veterans?
I’ll start by looking at Donovan McNabb, since he’s the group elder. McNabb is getting to that stage in his career where he will make the perfect back-up for a team like the Raiders, reminiscent of Warren Moon. A guy with his career winding down who can still give it a good go for a team from time to time. In Oakland McNabb might even be able to get a Super Bowl ring if the Raiders are headed where some people think they are.
McNabb has a lot of tread on the tires for a guy who's only 34. That happens when you go to five NFC Championships and a Super Bowl in your first ten years. The leadership that a McNabb could provide on a young offense in combination with Jason Campbell and Richard Seymour on defense could put the Raiders over the top in terms of veteran leadership. The only problem could occur if McNabb can’t swallow his pride and be a meaningful back-up. But he’s not the type to let drama like that affect him.
Moving slightly west of McNabb’s current locale you’ll find the disgruntled veteran quarterback, and former USC Heisman trophy winner, the Bengals’ Carson Palmer. In my opinion, Palmer lost a lot of his gusto when he went down with a knee injury in a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Palmer is a bit of a different story than McNabb. While McNabb is in the twilight of his career, Palmer is smack in the middle of what should be his prime time. Unfortunately, he plays for the Bengals, a team that has spent many of its years in the NFL’s basement.
Palmer is a guy the Raiders could look at if they wanted almost the same thing they already have with Jason Campbell. I honestly can’t see this move being plausible for the value attached to Palmer by the Bengals organization. It would surely take a high draft pick, possibly as high as a first round pick as opposed to getting Campbell for a fourth in 2012. Palmer was talked about as an elite quarterback just a few years ago. But on the other hand, he does have a history with Hue Jackson, and there’s a chance that his teammate, Chad Ochocinco, could end up playing in Oakland as well.
One guy who I really wanted the Raiders to trade up for and take in the draft a few years ago was Texas Longhorns’ quarterback, Vince Young. After watching Young singlehandedly (well almost) come from behind against USC in the National Championship, I was hooked on Young. So far in his short career with the Tennessee Titans, he has proven that he is indeed a winner at the next level as well as going 30-17 so far in his career as a starter. Last year, his decision to walk out on Head Coach Jeff Fisher ultimately cost both guys their job, though Fisher by his own choice. Yet the Titans still hold the rights to Young’s contract, and since he was drafted third overall just five years ago, the asking price will be high. On the other hand, the Titans have made it public knowledge that they will not be moving forward with Young on their roster which could and should ultimately drive down the asking price.
Young is not perfect by any means. Unlike McNabb, drama seems to follow this man. In that sense, it could be devastating to the Raiders to take a guy who could disrupt the locker room. Not only that, but Young is not very efficient as a passer, it’s more his versatility that makes him dangerous. If the Raiders go this route, they could end up with a high money player and a headache. There was once a time when I thought Young was perfect for the Raiders, but that time is gone now.
Moving north from Nashville, the guy who caused McNabb a lot of grief at the end of his Eagles days, Kevin Kolb, is preparing to hit the open market. Whether or not Andy Reid is going to want him to make his departure so early in his career is a different story. Kolb is a guy who Reid fell in love with so much so that he gave up his top pick in the draft, 33rd overall, and ultimately his sidekick quarterback, Donovan McNabb. But now the Eagles, or the other birds, are set to explore their options with Michael Vick, and Kevin Kolb has made it clear that he wants to be a starter somewhere.
However, unless your name is Jay Cutler, you are probably not going to be given the quarterback job for most teams. If Kolb came out to Oakland this year, I think it would be almost a foregone conclusion that the Raiders will move away from Campbell in 2011. Kolb would most likely command at least original round value for a draft pick or a highly rated player in return. To me, Kolb is still too unproven to be given the Raiders' quarterback job. I think there are going to be other teams that will be willing to give up more for Kolb. The Arizona Cardinals come to mind right off the top of my head.
Of the top available quarterbacks via trade this year I think Donovan McNabb makes the most sense for the Raiders. But I could also see them making a play for USC product Carson Palmer. If Palmer is willing to sit out in Cincinnati and retire, perhaps he’d be content to come back to California and ride the pine for a year waiting to see what happens with Jason Campbell. I know one thing after writing this article: all of the guys mentioned on this page are an upgrade to Bruce Gradkowski. I like Bruce as a person, but dude’s got some major health issues.
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