The injury issues continue to pile on for the Las Vegas Raiders. They’ll be without star running back Josh Jacobs on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers with toe and ankle injuries. They’ve also already lost starting right guard Denzelle Good and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy for the season. It now looks like they’ll be without their backup quarterback for a while, as well.
Marcus Mariota surprisingly came in during the Raiders’ first drive of the season against the Baltimore Ravens. He kept the ball and ran for 31 yards. It was a big spark for the team but Mariota aggravated a quad injury that’s been hampering him all offseason. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the team is sending him to the injured reserve, which means he’ll be out for at least three weeks.
Normally, losing a backup quarterback isn’t a massive deal for a team with a durable starter like Derek Carr. However, it’s clear that the Raiders planned to utilize Mariota’s athleticism in certain packages. They’ll now be losing that dynamic for at least a few weeks. The team could obviously target another athletic quarterback to replace Mariota and try to run the same packages. That’s not going to happen. Head coach Jon Gruden is already a pretty conservative play-caller. He’s been working on those packages with Mariota all offseason. He’s not going to trust a new guy to make those plays. With all that said, the team would be wise to add another quarterback while Mariota gets healthy.
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1. DeShone Kizer
DeShone Kizer makes the most sense as a Mariota replacement. He spent much of the 2019 season with the Raiders and actually replaced Mariota when he was injured last season. He understands the offense well at this point and would be a solid third option behind Carr and Nathan Peterman.
He’s not very athletic as he ran a 4.83 40-yard dash heading into the NFL. As mentioned earlier, it’s hard to see the Raiders running any packages with Carr not taking snaps while Mariota is out. Kizer wouldn’t have much of a learning curve and it would be an easy fit while Mariota gets healthy.
2. Case Cookus
Many fans would probably like to see the Raiders target a big name like Cam Newton or Colin Kaepernick. Both of those guys can run and would be equipped to be used in the packages the team had planned for Mariota. That said, it’s just not going to happen. If the Raiders add a quarterback, it’s going to be a small name.
Case Cookus could get a call from the team soon. He spent some time with Las Vegas in training camp before getting cut. He didn’t spend a ton of time with the Raiders but should have some familiarity with the offense.
3. Blake Bortles
The previously mentioned options have ties to the Raiders but the team could decide to go without an outside name. Blake Bortles could make sense if that’s the direction the team decides to go in. He spent some time with the Denver Broncos last season and the Raiders might want to see what insight he could bring on the AFC West rival.
He’s also capable of playing in an emergency. Bortles was wildly inconsistent as a starter but certainly not the worst we’ve ever seen. The Raiders like to have three quarterbacks so they’ll likely bring somebody in soon but don’t expect a big splash.