Manuel: OC Downing made signing with Raiders a 'no brainer'

Manuel: OC Downing made signing with Raiders a 'no brainer'

EJ Manuel met Todd Downing at the 2013 Senior Bowl. That was roughly four years ago now, when Downing was Detroit quarterbacks coach and Manuel was a highly touted quarterback out of Florida State.

The Lions didn’t need a quarterback then but the Buffalo Bills certainly did, selecting Manuel with the No. 16 overall pick. Manuel appreciated Downing’s tuteledge as a draft prospect, and was thrilled when Buffalo made him quarterbacks coach before his second professional season.

The pair formed a solid bond then and now have a chance to foster it. Manuel signed a contract with the Raiders on Monday afternoon, re-joining forces with the Silver and Black’s recently promoted offensive coordinator. Manuel said Downing was a big reason why he signed on this deal.

“When he did call once free agency began and told me that they were interested, for me it was a no-brainer,” Manuel said in a conference call. “That’s a situation you want. Especially as a quarterback and in my situation, trying to really change the perception of whatever I’ve gone through in Buffalo and all that kind of stuff. I know the player I can be and so does coach Downing. That’s what I’m excited about.”

Manuel’s NFL career hasn’t been smooth. He was a rookie starter who lost that job in his second season, a setback for a physically gifted passer from Florida State hoping for better.

Manuel won’t regain a starting spot in Oakland, where Derek Carr is firmly entrenched atop the depth chart. Manuel has enjoyed previous interactions and marveled at his rapid rise from afar.

“We watched him on tape a bunch because they played the same teams during the season,” Manuel said. “I used to even call or text Todd during the season the past two years and just ask him what he was doing as far as teaching Derek. What was he doing to help his game jump levels so quickly? I felt like he elevated his game so fast as a young guy. To have the consistency and such that he’s had, especially last year, in this league is very hard to do. However I can help him, I’m willing to do, but of course I’m here to compete for the No. 2 job.”

That spot could well go to Connor Cook, a 2016 fourth-round pick who started a playoff game last season with Carr and Matt McGloin on the shelf.

“I just want to be an addition,” Manuel said. “I’m not an ego guy and all that kind of stuff. I’m not driven by that. Obviously, as a player you’re very prideful in yourself, but I’m about the team. I want the team to get better. I want to be here to help this franchise and team to be where they are in whatever role or capacity that is. That’s what I’m excited to do.”

Raiders sign Bills free agent quarterback EJ Manuel

Raiders sign Bills free agent quarterback EJ Manuel

The Raiders signed unrestricted free agent QB EJ Manuel, the club announced Monday.

Manuel was originally drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the first round (16th overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-4, 237-pounder out of Florida State has appeared in 29 games, making 17 starts over his career, and has registered 3,502 passing yards and 19 touchdowns through the air, adding four more scores on the ground.

From 2014-2015, Manuel combined for six starts and tossed eight touchdown passes. In 10 appearances during his 2013 rookie campaign, he tallied 1,972 passing yards on 180-of-306 passing with 11 touchdowns and set franchise rookie records for most passing touchdowns and completions in a season.

The native of Virginia Beach, Va., Manuel finished his career at Florida State playing in 43 games, throwing for 47 touchdowns and 7,741 yards on 600-of-897 attempts (66.9 percent). He led the team to a 25-6 record as a starter, posing the third-most wins in school history. Manuel became just the second quarterback in FBS history to win four straight bowl games.

Oakland Raiders media services

Report: Bills free agent quarterback likely to sign with Raiders

Report: Bills free agent quarterback likely to sign with Raiders

The Raiders will reportedly add experience and competition to their quarterback group.

Former first-round pick E.J. Manuel will likely sign with the Silver and Black, ESPN reported on Thursday afternoon.

Buffalo selected Manuel with the No. 16 overall pick in 2013 and he started 10 games as a rookie, but eventually lost a starting gig that now belongs to Tyrod Taylor.

He’ll provide competition for the No. 2 spot behind unquestioned starter Derek Carr. That spot belonged to Matt McGloin, but he’ll leave as an unrestricted free agent.

It was expected to fall to 2016 fourth-round pick Connor Cook and still likely will, but Manuel has started 17 NFL games and could provide experience to the position group. The Raiders kept three quarterbacks last season, but employed only two the year before.

It should give Cook a competitive push at the very least.

Manuel is familiar with Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing, who was Buffalo Bills quarterbacks coach in 2014.