The Raiders have gone veteran at quarterback for a number of years with varying degrees of success. The team could choose to do the same this year and use the number one overall pick on the best available player rather than being forced into choosing a quarterback.
On the free agent front, Damon Huard is now off the market and poised the best option because of his smart play and ability to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers. "Damon had an excellent year in 2006 and contributed directly to getting our team to the playoffs," Chiefs president Carl Peterson said. "Damon is an excellent veteran player and an outstanding person. We're delighted to have him under contract."
Jeff Garcia has been a winning quarterback everywhere he has gone. He led Philadelphia to a 10-6 record and a birth in the playoffs. Garcia finished the season completing 116-of-188 passes (61.7 percent) with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions with a 95.2 rating.
"I think one of the things I look at is, I just want to be treated fairly," Garcia said. "I just want to be respected and appreciated for my accomplishments on the field and what I bring as a person, and a leader and a motivator and just an attitude to this team, to this organization. If that can be appreciated, I have no problem with committing myself to Philadelphia, for not just one year but hopefully the rest of my career."
Garcia is an intriguing option and his agent has said that the Raiders would be a team of interest. Garcia could help bridge the gap before giving the reigns to a rookie quarterback.
Matt Schaub in Atlanta is a definitive wildcard. He will be a restricted free agent, meaning any team that wants him would have to either work out a trade or sign him to an offer sheet and surrender picks based on his tender, expected to be at least a first-round pick. Oakland would obviously not give up their top pick but could be persuaded into some other deal if it fits their plan. Schaub has always been seen as a player on the rise but the Raiders would prefer to groom their own or add a proven starter at the NFL level.
David Carr is also on the market and could be had for a less demanding price.
That may come as a surprise to some, as the Texans have admitted to receiving multiple inquiries about Carr's availability in a trade and would be willing to take anywhere from a second- to a fifth-round draft pick.
Yet they claim they are not actively shopping Carr and that he remains their starting quarterback and admit that the reports can be difficult for a player to deal with.
"We need to get better at everything," said head coach Gary Kubiak. "The No. 1 thing I think he improved upon last year was preparation. From where we started early in the preseason to throughout the season, I thought he prepared extremely well. It's about consistency with David, in my opinion. If you're going to be a great quarterback in this league – be one of the top five in this league – you're there every week, playing well every week. I think it's about consistency with David. It's my job to get him there."
"That's our approach. We all have to get better. David has to get better. He's part of that. We start our approach right now with that offseason, quarterback school, and as we go into free agency. We all have to get a lot better, including this coach right here. And I have to continue working with David. He's the key to our franchise getting better."
In five seasons with the Texans, Carr has completed 60 percent of his passes for over 13,000 yards. Part of the issue is his 59 touchdowns and 65 interceptions.
Drew Bledsoe will also be freed from his contract, according to Adam Schefter of NFL.com. But Bledsoe is a stationary target on the downside of his career with little hope for revival.
Jake Plummer can also be had on the trade market and may eventually be released. Plummer was replaced by rookie Jay Cutler and isn't known for his strong decision-making. He does, however, elude the pass rush and that could be a consideration given the poor offensive line play in Oakland.
There are some interesting names out there but the only realistic targets figure to be Schaub and Garcia (because he can nurture a young quarterback) – if they are realistic at all.
After years of not developing their own quarterback and suffering the setbacks associated with the position, the Raiders would probably be best suited to take a quarterback high and nurture them along. With a new head coach in Lane Kiffin, the Silver and Black seem to have some stability for the first time in years. Adding a young quarterback can ensure that stability lasts long into the future.