Not since the days of Rich Gannon have the Oakland Raiders had a franchise quarterback. That long search has taken the Silver and Black through an array of signal callers, but unfortunately for Raider Nation, none have panned out. That list includes Josh McCown, who was on the team as a backup in 2007. After a solid campaign in a backup role for the Chicago Bears last season, McCown has been a name uttered by many Raider fans to possibly return to Oakland.
You won’t find me on that list. I don’t believe for a moment that McCown, who I think is a system quarterback, will flourish in Oakland on a team devoid of offensive talent. It’s one thing to have a solid offensive line, two really good backs, two elite receivers and a stud tight end in the huddle, but it’s a whole new world lining up on a team with only one Pro Bowler. McCown did throw for more than 1,800 yards, 13 touchdowns and only one pick with a 66.5 accuracy rate, but that won’t guarantee success in a Raider uniform. There is a reason why he has been a journeyman in his career. He is simply a backup.
What the Raiders should do however, is wait for Matt Schaub to get released by the Houston Texans. Schaub has a very restrictive cap number and it would be a surprise if he is still on the Texans squad come free agency on March 11. While he had a horrifying season last year, it wasn’t long ago that he was a Pro Bowl quarterback and a player who led the Texans to back-to-back playoff appearances. If you examine Schaub’s career numbers, you’ll find a quarterback who has thrown for more than 24,000 yards, 50 more touchdowns than picks, close to a 90 passer rating and a Pro Bowler. The Raiders history has been littered with players who revived their careers in Silver and Black. At only 32 (33 by next training camp), Schaub can be the stop-gap player the Raiders need at the position while they build for the future.
The other upside of a move for Schaub will allow the Raiders to maybe snatch an elite pass rusher or receiver in the draft. With the 2014 draft heralded as one of the deepest, it is essential to hit on every pick to maximise this unique opportunity (high draft picks and record salary cap space) the Raiders have to get back to the summit of the NFL.
To hedge against the failure of Schaub in reigniting the Team of the Decades, I would draft Zach Mattenberger or Aaron Murray in the third round. These two players, owing to their injuries and a deep draft, could be available as late as the fourth round. I would throw the two new quarterbacks in a frenzied camp competition for the starting job with incumbents Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor.
The Raiders could take one of a thousand different approaches to this off-season. The one thing I’m convinced of is that Josh McCown shouldn’t factor into any of those.