Quarterback struggles

The legacy of quarterback and the Oakland Raiders is not filled with men of history. Brief moments of fame have been marred by inconsistency. Now the team is eyeing Aaron Brooks - when it should be comsidering Andrew Walter or a quarterback in the first round.

Even by Oakland Raiders standards, it's a strange philosophy.

It's mid-March, and the outside world has no idea who their quarterback will be. This in a season in which they are selling their own tickets for the first time since returning to Oakland 11 years ago.

Josh McCown, who visited the Raiders Wednesday before getting on a plane and signing with the Detroit Lions, may have given a hint as to Oakland's intentions in a radio interview in which he embraced his new competition with Jon Kitna.

"I didn't want to get in a situation where it was my job the first year ... just to be grooming a guy to take my place," McCown told Sirius Satellite Radio.

While Raiders officials said McCown left without a contract offer, a source familiar with McCown said the club offered him a two-year, $6 million deal. That's similar to the numbers McCown got in Detroit and seems to support the notion he was perceived as a stopgap in Oakland.

Aaron Brooks, 30, seems to be too much of a Kerry Collins clone with a tendency to implode at inappropriate times. He is in for a visit but would be a stopgap at best. And it seems the team would be better served going with Andrew Walter if that was the case.

For all the glorious history the Raiders are fond of putting in their press releases, there is no chapter on the drafting of quarterbacks. The list of successes pretty much begins and ends with Ken Stabler, a second-round pick in 1968, and includes such first-round whiffs as Marc Wilson (1980) and Todd Marinovich (1991).

The possibility that New Orleans at No. 2 could be dealing its pick after signing Drew Brees in theory puts Oakland within reach of the top three quarterbacks should they be inclined to make a deal.

All three have qualities that could make them appealing to Raiders owner Al Davis, who has a new coach in Art Shell but is the dominant voice in the Raiders' draft room.

Matt Leinart comes from Southern California, where Davis was once an assistant coach and is a place he still holds in high regard. Leinart is probably the only one of the three top QBs who could be ready to play as a rookie and appears to have the maturity and personal discipline lacking in Marinovich, another USC lefty whom the Raiders took in the first round.

Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler has the sort of throwing arm Davis loves and is the sort of classic dropback passer who could take advantage of downfield wide receivers such as Randy Moss, Jerry Porter and Doug Gabriel.

Texas quarterback Vince Young fits no prototype, but his all-around skill and playmaking ability could appeal to Davis, who considers himself an innovator and an out-of-the-box thinker. Whether Young's talents are suited to the NFL are enough in question that he could be had at No. 7, whereas Leinart and Cutler would most likely find the Raiders having to trade up.


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