The NFL draft is just around the corner and there are plenty of rumors and speculation about what teams will do with their picks.
One of the most intriguing scenarios involves the Las Vegas Raiders, who have the 17th overall selection and a need for a quarterback. Could they trade up to get one of the top prospects in this class, Anthony Richardson?
Richardson is a 6-foot-4, 240-pound dual-threat quarterback who played for Florida in college. He has a strong arm, great mobility and a knack for making big plays. He threw for 1,266 yards and 15 touchdowns with only two interceptions in 2021, while also rushing for 777 yards and seven scores.
He impressed scouts with his performance at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, where he ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash and posted a 36-inch vertical jump.
Some analysts have compared Richardson to Cam Newton or Josh Allen, two former MVP candidates who have led their teams to the playoffs. Richardson has the potential to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL, but he also has some question marks.
He needs to improve his accuracy, decision-making and consistency as a passer. He also has a history of injuries, having missed four games in 2021 due to hamstring and knee issues.
The Raiders are reportedly interested in Richardson, as they are not sold on Derek Carr as their long-term solution at quarterback. Carr had a solid season in 2021, throwing for 4,431 yards and 23 touchdowns with 14 interceptions, but he failed to lead the Raiders to the postseason for the fourth straight year.
Carr is under contract through 2022, but the Raiders could save $19.9 million in cap space by trading or releasing him this offseason.
The Raiders would have to give up a lot to move up in the draft order to get Richardson, who is projected to go in the top 10 picks. They might have to trade their first-round pick this year and next year, plus a second- or third-round pick or a player.
The Raiders have other needs on their roster, such as offensive line, defensive line and secondary, so they might not be willing to pay such a high price for an unproven rookie.
Another option for the Raiders is to pursue Aaron Rodgers, who is still unhappy with his situation in Green Bay. Rodgers won his third MVP award in 2021 after throwing for 4,115 yards and 37 touchdowns with only four interceptions.
He led the Packers to the NFC Championship Game for the second straight year, but they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rodgers has expressed his frustration with the Packers’ front office and coaching staff, and he has hinted that he might want out of Green Bay.
The Raiders are one of the teams that Rodgers reportedly would consider playing for if he were to request a trade. The Raiders have a talented offense with weapons like Darren Waller, Josh Jacobs and Henry Ruggs III.
They also have Jon Gruden as their head coach, who has a reputation for being an offensive guru and working well with veteran quarterbacks. The Raiders could offer Carr and multiple draft picks to the Packers in exchange for Rodgers.
However, trading for Rodgers would not be easy either. The Packers have said that they are committed to keeping Rodgers and that they are not interested in trading him.
Rodgers is under contract through 2023, but he has a no-trade clause that gives him some leverage over where he goes. Rodgers also has a hefty salary cap hit of $37.2 million in 2022 and $39.9 million in 2023, which would limit the Raiders’ ability to sign other players.
A third option for the Raiders is to stick with Carr and draft another quarterback later in the draft who can develop behind him. One of the candidates for that role is C.J. Stroud, who played for Ohio State in college.
Stroud is a 6-foot-3, 215-pound pocket passer who threw for 3,905 yards and 38 touchdowns with six interceptions in 2021. He led the Buckeyes to the Big Ten title and the Rose Bowl, where he threw for a record-breaking 573 yards and six touchdowns against Utah.
Stroud is not as athletic or flashy as Richardson, but he is more polished and consistent as a passer. He has good arm strength, accuracy and poise in the pocket. He can read defenses and go through his progressions quickly. He also has experience playing in a pro-style offense under Ryan Day at Ohio State.
Stroud is projected to go in the second or third round of the draft, which means the Raiders could get him without giving up their first-round pick. They could use that pick to address another position of need or trade down to acquire
Final Thoughts: Evaluating the Las Vegas Raiders’ Options at Quarterback
The Las Vegas Raiders face a critical decision regarding their quarterback position in the upcoming NFL draft and offseason. They have several options, each with their pros and cons.
Anthony Richardson is an intriguing prospect with immense physical tools and potential, but he also has some significant question marks, such as accuracy and durability concerns. The Raiders would have to pay a hefty price to trade up for him, which could impact their ability to address other areas of need in the draft.
On the other hand, pursuing Aaron Rodgers would be a blockbuster move that could immediately upgrade the Raiders’ offense and put them in contention for the playoffs.
However, it is far from guaranteed that the Packers would be willing to trade Rodgers, and his contract and salary cap hit would create challenges for the Raiders in building a balanced roster.
Sticking with Derek Carr and drafting a quarterback like C.J. Stroud later in the draft could be a more prudent and cost-effective approach for the Raiders. Carr has proven to be a solid and reliable starter, albeit not a game-changer.
Stroud has the potential to be a long-term solution at quarterback and could benefit from learning under Carr’s guidance.
Ultimately, the Raiders’ decision will depend on their evaluation of the quarterback prospects, their willingness to invest in a rookie or a veteran, and their priorities in building a competitive team.
It will be interesting to see how they navigate this crucial offseason and whether they can finally end their playoff drought.