Oakland Raiders have no need for Nick Foles or Kyler Murray

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images /

The Oakland Raiders are in the middle of a transition, and there are plenty of people calling for a change at quarterback. Don’t buy into the banter.

If there’s one thing Oakland Raiders HC Jon Gruden has done exceedingly well in his first year back at the helm, it’s sow the seeds of chaos and discord. He’s also done a fantastic job of creating the perception that nobody on the roster is safe from being cut or dealt. Some say, even the peanut vendors in the stadium fear they may get a pink slip from Gruden.

That tends to happen when you trade away a generational talent like Khalil Mack, deal an underachiever with star potential like Amari Cooper, bring in duds like Martavis Bryant, and shuffle guys in and out of the locker room just about every day.

But this is what happens when you’re trying to rebuild a franchise on the fly. The initial teardown phase resembles a scorched earth, no holds barred, nobody is safe, land of confusion. And the initial rebuild phase is going to experience a few bumps and hiccups as the organization goes through a few growing pains.

That’s just the reality of the situation.

The net effect of this year’s chaos and dysfunction though, is three first-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft and what could approach nearly $90 million cap space, depending upon any forthcoming roster decisions such as what to do with Donald Penn and his significant cap hit.

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As the team convulses and thrashes its way through the two-phase process, there is no shortage of rumors, whispers, and stories floating around out there about what the team might do and which direction Gruden will take them in as he constructs a roster in his image.

One of the longest-running storylines is what the future holds for starting quarterback Derek Carr.

With two years of his five-year, $125 million dollar deal now completed, Carr has looked little like the franchise quarterback the Raiders thought they were signing when they dumped that pile of cash on him. And because of his up-and-down performance the last two seasons, the chorus of discontented voices has steadily grown louder.

There was rampant speculation and rumor last season about Carr being dealt to the New York Giants, who are going through their own quarterback drama with Eli Manning looking like a guy in the twilight of his career. And as the losses mounted last season, Carr’s detractors set the price for him lower and lower – the last check revealed Carr-haters would be willing to take a case of beer, a package of hot dogs, and a bag of peanuts for him.

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Though Carr played much better down the stretch – going ten straight games without an interception at one point – and looked to be grasping the nuances of Gruden’s offense, the wins didn’t come. After a regular season blowout clunker against the Kansas City Chiefs in which he threw two picks, the speculation about dealing Carr has grown louder and lustier.

With Kyler Murray – who would be the best of a very thin quarterback class – doing a dance between the Oakland Athletics and taking his talents to the NFL, discontented Raiders fans and Carr detractors everywhere are coming together, giving voice to their hope the team takes the former Oklahoma standout.

Recently though, speculation has ramped up that Gruden and the Raiders may take a run at Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback/annual savior Nick Foles. That speculation was given life in a recent article by Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman who wrote:

"“There is already rampant speculation about where Foles will end up. One scout believes Raiders coach Jon Gruden will use some of the booty from the Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper trades (two first-rounders for Mack and one for Cooper) to make the Eagles an offer they can’t refuse.”"

There’s no doubt that Foles has had a pretty incredible run the last couple of years. Very limited, but incredible. And the fact that he came in late last year after Carson Wentz went down and guided the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title – and has managed to get this team to the playoffs again this year with some more late-season magic – has put his name on the map. No question about it.

Foles has a decent body of work – as a backup. Given the chance to be the full-time starter with the Rams in 2015, Foles was average. At best.

In 11 games as the then-St. Louis Rams’ starter, Foles produced a 4-7 record. He threw for 2,052 yards, seven touchdowns, and 10 interceptions on 56 percent passing. He was eventually replaced under center by Case Keenum, which should be a big red flag.

The bottom line is that Foles is absolutely scintillating at quarterback – in a relief role. In short spurts when other teams haven’t had a lot of time to prepare for him. He’s fantastic at coming out of the bullpen, but he’s only so-so as a starter.

As for Murray, he was electric in college. He propelled Oklahoma to tremendous offensive heights and was one of the most exciting players to watch in all of college football. But there have been plenty of quarterbacks who lit it up the NCAA but didn’t pan out in the pros – need we invoke the names of JaMarcus Russell and Danny Wuerffel to prove our point?

All of this to say Gruden and Mike Mayock would be making a big mistake by dealing for Foles or drafting Murray.

Despite the vitriol spewed by his detractors, Carr has already grasped Gruden’s complex offense in ways that not even Rich Gannon did in his first season. So why in the world would you pull the plug on Carr and install somebody new?

Burning one – or even two – of those precious first-round draft picks to acquire Foles, or burning one to acquire Murray means not picking up talent in other areas of critical need. And the Raiders roster is replete with areas of critical need. So much so, that taking a flier on Foles or Murray shouldn’t even be a consideration.

What Carr and the Raiders need to succeed is a defense that doesn’t get lit up like the Christmas tree in Rockefeller center game in and game out. Having a defense that doesn’t get pushed up and down the field and give up points by the bushel would take some of the pressure off Carr and the offense, which could also lead to better results.

What they also need are some legit weapons around Carr. Assuming Marshawn Lynch doesn’t return, they’re going to need another running back to team with Jalen Richard and Doug Martin — assuming Gruden brings the latter back after a relatively decent season.

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More than anything though, Carr needs some actual pass catchers to throw to. Marcell Ateman shows promise, Jordy Nelson came on down the stretch but is not the solution to the problem, and the rest of that depleted receivers room needs to be restocked with some actual talent.

Using one of those first-round picks (the other two should be spent on defense) on a field-stretching speedster would give Carr and the offense the legitimate down-the-field threat they’ve lacked. They should then mine the later rounds – and also the ranks of the undrafted – for some receiving gems.

If Mayock is the talent evaluator we all believe he is, he shouldn’t have any trouble digging a few up to flesh out that receiving corps and give Carr some actual weapons to work with. Not only that, but the offensive continuity can only help.

The smart thing Gruden can do is opt for continuity at what is arguably the most important position on the field. That means keeping Carr under center rather than falling for the bright, shiny thing that is Foles or Murray. Use those first-round picks wisely – which would be to build this team up, rather than continue the chaos that marked the 2018 season.

Gruden and Mayock should absolutely avoid the temptation to fix a problem that doesn’t really exist.

At worst, Carr flops this year and the Raiders are horrible again. Is there anybody who really believes they’ll contend in 2019 anyway? If that does come to pass, then use one of the two first-round picks next year on Carr’s replacement – it should be a better draft class for quarterbacks anyway.

Of course, opinions on the subject will vary widely and the anti-Carr contingent will never be convinced or mollified. But, in an effort to end this article on a more positive note, let’s focus on something we can all agree on – Nathan Peterman should be loaded into Elon Musk’s next rocket and shot out into deep space.

Next. Realistic draft options for Raiders at No. 4. dark

With so many different things in play and needs to fill, this should be a very interesting offseason, to say the least.