Raiders

3 Quarterbacks The Raiders Can Target in Free Agency Next Year

Only a handful of teams haven’t had to look for a new quarterback in the past couple of seasons, one of them being the Las Vegas Raiders with Derek Carr. There have been conversations about the Raiders looking to move on from Carr, but none of the rumors came to fruition.

Las Vegas invested in Carr this season by acquiring wide receiver Davante Adams. However, now that the Raiders are further from making the NFL playoffs with their 2-6 start to the season and Carr is not performing up to expectations, the team could begin to look for alternative options in 2023.

It’s still early in the season, and Carr could turn things around for the Raiders, but if the team fails to make the playoffs, it might be time to move on from Carr. Here are three quarterbacks the Raiders can target in free agency next year.

3 QBs The Raiders Can Target in Free Agency Next Year

Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers quarterback room is in shambles, and it looks like Sam Darnold is the odd man out. Baker Mayfield won the starting job during training camp, relegating Darnold to backup status. Then, after an injury in the preseason, Darnold was placed on IR, opening the door for P.J. Walker.

After an injury to Mayfield, Walker stepped in to start and has played well, cementing himself as a starter in Carolina. With it looking like Darnold will become the third quarterback on the depth chart when everyone is fully healthy, the Raiders could look to sign him in the offseason.

The former first-round pick warranted a lot of money heading into 2022, but the Raiders can probably get him for cheap in the offseason. Darnold’s best year came in 2019 with the New York Jets, in which he completed 61.9% of his passes for 3,024 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.

Darnold is still young at 25 but has plenty of NFL experience, having been drafted in 2018. He has the tools to succeed and be a starter in the league, but he hasn’t had the best supporting cast. However, putting Darnold on the Raiders with top pass-catchers and an established run game can lead to a revitalized career.

Taylor Heinicke, Washington Commanders

Taylor Heinicke is a football journeyman, starting with the Minnesota Vikings in 2015, bouncing around to three other teams before leaving the NFL in 2019, then making a stop in the XFL before signing with the Commanders at the end of the 2020 season. He was the starter all last season and has been relegated to backup, with Washington trading for Carson Wentz.

Heinicke kicked off his Washington career by almost beating Tom Brady in the playoffs, throwing for 306 yards and one touchdown and rushing for another score. In 2021, he started 15 games and threw for 3,419 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. Heinicke added 313 yards and one touchdown on 60 carries.

Heinicke wasn’t happy when the Commanders traded for Wentz and gave him the opportunity to start in Week 7 after Wentz was put on IR with an injury. Through three starts this season, Heinicke is 2-1 and has thrown for 629 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions.

Though he’ll be turning 30 in March, Heinicke still has a lot of gas in the tank. Wentz should step back into the starting role when he returns from injury, so Heinicke will look for a new opportunity in the offseason. If he decides to look for a new team, the Raiders should jump on the opportunity to sign Heinicke.

Gardner Minshew, Philadelphia Eagles

Entering his fourth year in the NFL and second with the Philadelphia Eagles, Gardner Minshew might be the best backup quarterback in the league. Minshew has proven he can be a starter in the NFL, and all he needs is a chance to prove that.

Minshew won the backup job for the Jacksonville Jaguars in his rookie year, playing behind Nick Foles. After an injury to Foles, Minshew stepped in and had a good year, throwing for 3,271 yards, 21 touchdowns, and six interceptions. He also ran for 344 yards on 67 attempts. Minshew entered 2020 as the starter, but a mid-season injury derailed that, and he was never able to regain the starting job once he returned.

In 2021, Minshew was traded to the Eagles and became Jalen Hurts’ backup. Hurts missed two games, and Minshew stepped in, completing 68.3% of his passes and throwing for 439 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception.

Minshew is young (turning 27 in May) and has the resume of a starting quarterback. With a solid surrounding cast in Philadelphia, Minshew looked great in two starts. Imagine what Minshew could do with the weapons in Las Vegas.

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*Top Photo: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

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