Opinions aren’t very high on the Las Vegas Raiders right now. The team went 6-11 last season and released longtime starting quarterback Derek Carr. They replaced him with Jimmy Garoppolo, who isn’t participating in organized team activities now due to offseason foot surgery.
The Raiders can get out of Garoppolo’s contract if he can’t pass a physical. If that were to happen, the team would likely be starting Brian Hoyer at quarterback, who hasn’t won a start since 2016. It’s safe to say that Las Vegas would be in a very bad spot if Garoppolo can’t play. To some, that may be the best outcome for the team. Heavy Sports insider Matt Lombardo spoke to a former NFL general manager who believes the Raiders should already call it a season.
“If I were in their shoes,” the former general manager told Lombardo. “I would tank.”
Even if Garoppolo does play this season, he’s not the long-term answer at quarterback. The 2024 draft class has some amazing quarterback prospects but the Raiders need to pick early to get one of them. The former general manager believes that UNC’s Drake Maye and USC’s Caleb Williams are worth tanking for.
“Seriously, [Drake] Maye has the chance to be the next Troy Aikman,” the former general manager added. “And Caleb Williams is a Russell Wilson clone, only much faster.”
Is Tanking the Right Choice?
The Raiders have too much talent to tank without actively trying to. Davante Adams, Maxx Crosby and Josh Jacobs should be able to do enough to keep the team from drafting in the top five, especially in a year where multiple teams have an incentive to lose. While no team ever wants to think about picking in the top five before the season even starts, it’s easy to understand the desire to tank in the Raiders’ situation.
Las Vegas is in the AFC West, which means they have to play Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert twice a season for at least another decade. The Raiders could have a major disadvantage at quarterback for a very long time. Adding a player like Williams completely changes the conversation about the Raiders. He has the talent to compete with the likes of Herbert and Mahomes if he isn’t a bust. That’s something the team needs to at least think about.
Future at QB for Raiders
The Raiders were in a position to take a top quarterback in this year’s draft. They could’ve traded up to get Anthony Richardson or taken Will Levis. They also could’ve taken Hendon Hooker in the second round but decided to wait until the fourth round to take Aidan O’Connell. Las Vegas may see O’Connell as the future but it’s hard to imagine he’s athletic enough to truly compete with Mahomes and Herbert.
Eventually, the Raiders will need to find a long-term option with high upside. Next year might be the year to do it. If the season starts off terribly, it might be time to pull the plug and accept a tank. The worst thing that can happen to the Raiders is to go 6-11 or 7-10. That would likely put them out of the top five picks but they wouldn’t be close to the playoffs. As brutal as it would be, going 3-14 would be better for the team than simply being mediocre. Now, if Garoppolo is healthy and the team has some momentum built at the start of the season, they should still fight to make the playoffs but they can’t just accept mediocrity.