Who starts in Oakland?

Aaron Brooks is the favorite at this point with Andrew Walter also getting a long look - provided they pass on a quarterback in the 2006 NFL Draft.

The Raiders added a quarterback with starting experience but weren't ready to proclaim him their new starter.

Aaron Brooks agreed to terms with Oakland, which caused the team's fans to celebrate the official departure of Kerry Collins, the much-maligned former starter who remained a free agent and a looming threat to return.

Brooks, 30, arrives with 82 career starts - 81 more than Marques Tuiasosopo and Andrew Walter, the holdovers from the 2005 Raiders roster.

"Aaron gives us great depth at the quarterback position and a veteran presence," Raiders coach Art Shell said in a statement released by the team.

Brooks has the deep passing skill to utilize threats such as Randy Moss, Jerry Porter and Doug Gabriel. He has rushed for 1,410 yards and 13 touchdowns in his career, evidence of mobility that was absent in the statuesque Collins.

Brooks led the Saints to the only playoff win in franchise history in 2000. As recently as 2003, he had 24 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He was 43-43 as a starter for New Orleans before going 3-10 in 2005 and getting benched by Jim Haslett in favor of Todd Bouman.

Raiders owner Al Davis is said to have admired Brooks for a long time.

While Davis and the Raiders in public say they are shooting for the top, a .500 record would be a promising upgrade over the 13-35 record over the last three seasons.

So why not simply proclaim Brooks the starter from Day 1 and get on with it?

Two reasons:
1) At the time of Shell's statement, Brooks had not yet put pen to paper. If he suddenly changed his mind and decided to join former offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy in Green Bay, the Raiders would save the humiliation of fawning over a player who left town.
2) The Raiders are hoping second-year man Andrew Walter surprises them with a strong enough performance in minicamps and training camp to compete for the job.

The Raiders' company line holds that Walter is the next great Raiders quarterback. He is tall, strong and throws a great deep pass.

But Walter mostly represents the unknown. He had shoulder surgery following his senior year at Arizona State. He had hernia surgery following his rookie season with the Raiders.

In two preseason games - he missed two others with a groin injury - Walter showed promise, though admittedly operating against the 49ers and Saints reserves.

Walter has not taken a snap in a regular season game, his play limited to practice sessions in which there was no chance of getting slammed to the turf by an opposing rusher.

Tuiasosopo, though he could end up being the backup to Brooks should Walter not be ready, probably faces the longest odds of the three to become the starter.

He got one start against the New York Jets last season, only to turn the ball over four times in a 26-10 loss. Collins was re-installed as the starter the following week.

Tuiasosopo is in the final year of a six-year contract he signed as a rookie.

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