Rookie Predicted to Overtake Raiders’ $72.75 Million Starter This Season

josh mcdaniels

Getty Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels.

The Las Vegas Raiders are somewhat in quarterback limbo right now. Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t participating in organized team activities due to offseason foot surgery. This has led to Brian Hoyer taking the first-team reps in practice but he’s not a realistic option to start.

Hoyer hasn’t won a start since 2016 and is 37 years old. The only other option would be rookie Aidan O’Connell out of Purdue. After much speculation the Raiders would use an early draft pick on a quarterback, they waited until the fourth round to take O’Connell. He has a quick throwing release that has been compared to Tom Brady and displayed good accuracy in college. However, he doesn’t have much athletic upside so there hasn’t been much hype around him being the eventual starter.

Despite that, some believe he’ll be taking over at some point. Conor Orr of Sports Illustrated is predicting O’Connell to start at least one game at quarterback this season regardless of whether or not Garoppolo is healthy.

“The Patriots, or any Patriots-adjacent franchise, can’t go a full season without obsessively plotting for a late-round quarterback to completely backstab the starter amid struggles,” Orr wrote. “O’Connell, who started 26 games at Purdue, was taken with the last pick in the fourth round.”

Highly Unlikely O’Connell Would Be Full-Time Starter in 2023

Orr’s prediction is certainly bold. Garoppolo would have to play very poorly to be benched in favor of O’Connell without injury being a factor. The Raiders clearly like the rookie quarterback. They traded up in the fourth round to get him. Considering many of the good quarterbacks to come out of New England weren’t early-round picks, head coach Josh McDaniels has to at least think O’Connell could be a starter at some point.

Hoyer is ahead of the rookie on the depth chart at that’s not going to change anytime soon. Now, if the season goes off the rails, it may be preferable to put O’Connell on the field and see what he can do than a 37-year-old Hoyer. That’s the only way he’ll realistically start games if injuries aren’t an issue. That said, Garoppolo has played an entire season just once in his career. The odds of him getting injured are higher than him staying healthy. Garoppolo getting hurt would certainly open the door for O’Connell

Garoppolo Expected to Be Ready for Training Camp: Report

The Garoppolo injury storyline could end up being the biggest nothing burger of the offseason. The fact that the Raiders didn’t use their first-round pick on a quarterback or make more moves to solidify the position in the offseason shows that they aren’t concerned about Garoppolo’s health. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the quarterback is on track to be ready for training camp.

There isn’t any reason for the Raiders to worry quite yet but it is concerning that the team would sign a quarterback to play his first year in a system knowing that he’s going to miss most of the offseason workouts. It’s a sign that the team isn’t too concerned with making a Super Bowl run this year. Garoppolo likely isn’t the long-term option so the quarterback position will continue to be one to watch going forward.

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