Editor's note: Insider Scott Bair will be highlighting a number of the Raiders' free agent options at quarterback over the next week, beginning with Josh Freeman
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said this offseason that the Raiders hope to acquire a veteran quarterback in free agency and that desire has no impact on a decision to draft one this May.
In a perfect world, the veteran would start in 2014 and offer short-term solutions while the young develops as a backup.
"If you're going to talk about playing a rookie, I think the fair way to do it is surround him (with talent), not just ride his shoulders. It's hard. I don't care how good the rookie is.
"To make him do everything his first year is not an easy task. You'd rather not. You'd rather have a guy in place who can get you through the season, especially the early part of the season."
The Raiders don’t have a veteran save Trent Edwards on the roster, so they’ll have to mine one from a relatively thin group of free agents. Most of them, including possible cap casualties who could be released in coming months, are reclamation projects.
Big-ticket passers hold such a premium that they rarely see free agency. The list you see below illustrates that trend. It is not bereft of quality, but there is some risk involved in most any of them.
Mike Vick could offer veteran leadership, but can he stay healthy and be dynamic at 33? If he’s released, can Matt Schaub get rid of the yips? Does Josh McCown have more magic in store after a quality five-start stretch in 2013? Can Matt Flynn…naw. We won’t even go there.
Over the next few days we’ll take a closer look a veteran free agent options. Some guys will get more space than others based upon the likelihood he’ll end up in Oakland.
To start this little journey, we’ll start with Josh Freeman. The veteran was released by Tampa Bay around midseason and didn’t pan out after signing a one-year, $3 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Before that deal was finalized, the Raiders had real interest in Freeman as an in-season replacement. Will that interest pique again this offseason, when his asking price might be low while looking for one last chance to resurrect his career? It just might.
What Josh has to offer: Freeman has a cannon arm and tremendous ability as a pocket passer with great size and strength and some mobility. He’s exceeded 4,000 passing yards once, 3,000 twice and has 80 touchdowns to 67 interceptions. He can make all the throws short and deep.
Why he’s a good fit: Freeman worked with Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson in Tampa Bay his first three years in the league. He knows Olson’s scheme well. Freeman was at his best under Olson in 2010, when he had 25 TDs, just six interceptions and a career-high 95.9 passer rating.
Freeman could be highly motivated to recall those glory days and give himself a chance to resurrect his career.
Why the Raiders should stay away: Freeman is radioactive after washing out in Tampa Bay and struggling to gain a foothold in Minnesota despite terrible quarterback play around him. He was exiled in Tampa after a public rift with the front office and then coach Greg Schiano. He was awful in one game with Minnesota, and didn’t make a good impression on the locker room. The Raiders are looking for leadership and a player who can start in 2014. After missing badly on Flynn, the Raiders can ill afford to manother miss and risk being left with inexperience at quarterback during a crucial season where progress must be shown in the win column.
A full list of veteran free agents:
Derek Anderson, Carolina Panthers
Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings
Jimmy Clausen, Carolina Panthers
Kellen Clemens, St. Louis Rams
Matt Flynn, Green Bay Packers
Josh Freeman, Minnesota Vikings
David Garrard, New York Jets
Rex Grossman, Washington Redskins
Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
Shaun Hill, Detroit Lions
Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle Seahawks
Jon Kitna, Dallas Cowboys
Josh McCown, Chicago Bears
Luke McCown, New Orleans Saints
Colt McCoy, San Francisco 49ers
Dan Orlovsky, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Curtis Painter, New York Giants
Jordan Palmer, Chicago Bears
Brady Quinn, St. Louis Rams
Rusty Smith, Tennessee Titans
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
Charlie Whitehurst, San Diego Chargers
Possible offseason cuts
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
Kevin Kolb, Buffalo Bills
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
Matt Schaub, Houston Texans