The Derek Carr era has officially ended in Raider Land. Still, that doesn’t guarantee the Silver and Black will target a quarterback this offseason. As it turns out, the team’s next quarterback may already be on the roster. Enter Jarrett Stidham.
Josh McDaniels was announced as the next head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders in January 2022. Alongside McDaniels, Dave Ziegler took over as the team’s general manager. Mark Davis had apparently elected to adapt the “Patriot way” in Las Vegas moving forward. That also included an eventual trade for former Patriot quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
After 16 weeks of sitting behind Carr, Stidham – who’s been in McDaniels’ system since entering the NFL in 2019 – was given the nod to start for the first time at the pro-level. The first-year Raider made the most of this opportunity, ending his day with 365 passing yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Stidham also recorded 34 yards on the ground, averaging 4.86 yards per scramble.
This was done against the San Francisco 49ers, who went into Sunday’s contest allowing the least total yards league wide. Stidham became just the second quarterback this season to surpass 275 passing yards against the 49ers’ defense, and his three touchdowns tied him for most passing touchdowns.
The search is on for a new quarterback in Las Vegas next season, and Jarrett Stidham is building his case for the job. The 26-year-old under center in 2023 makes a lot of sense for the Raiders; let’s talk about why.
The perks of Jarrett Stidham as QB1 for the Raiders in 2023
I know, I know; it’s hard to sell a plan that involves a player who has five touchdowns, six interceptions and a 57.9% complete percentage throughout his career being the starting quarterback moving forward. Just bear with me.
From the start, it seemed the most-likely scenario at quarterback under the Raiders’ new regime would be a player familiar with Josh McDaniels’ system. You know the names – Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett; all with expiring contracts, set to be a free agent this summer. Stidham is quietly one of these guys himself.
Familiarity in Josh McDaniels’ system
Jarrett Stidham isn’t just familiar with McDaniels’ system, but it’s all he knows. Since being drafted in 2019, the former fourth-round pick has spent each season under McDaniels, both learning and perfecting what many refer to as the “most complex offense” around the NFL.
Such familiarity in this system is not to be taken lightly, and Derek Carr’s ’22 campaign is proof of that.
In 2021, Carr logged a career-high 4,804 passing yards with a 68.4% completion percentage. Even when Rich Bisaccia took over as the team’s [interim] head coach in the middle of the season, it didn’t take Carr long to adjust. When the Raiders lost their promising wideout at the bye week last year, leaving the team with Bryan Edwards and Zay Jones as the starting wideouts, it once again didn’t take Carr too long to adjust. Of course, this was without Davante Adams, and with Darren Waller in-and-out of missing time.
In his first year under Josh McDaniels’ system one season later, that same quarterback completed 60.8% of his passes with 234.8 yards per game and a QB rating of 86.3 – all of which are the lowest of Carr’s career since his rookie season in 2014.
Don’t underestimate the power of familiarity in this offense. The difference between Carr’s ’22 campaign and Stidham’s 365-yard, three touchdown game against the league’s top defense isn’t a coincidence.
The Raiders’ offense is close to being QB-proof
As it stands, the Silver and Black have both the league’s leading rusher (Josh Jacobs; 1,608) and league-leader in receiving touchdowns (Davante Adams, 14). On top of that, the team’s roster houses Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow, both who are widely considered top-10 at their respective positions of tight end and slot receiver.
It truly is a terrifying offense if you’re a defensive coordinator.Â Still, the offense isn’t perfect – but it can be virtually QB-proof with one addition: a speedster.
The average 40-time for an NFL receiver is 4.53 per ProFootballNetwork. No player in the Raiders’ receiver room logged a faster time than that during their respective Combine or Pro Day. Even Josh Jacobs recorded a 40-time well behind the average of the running back position. On the other hand, Darren Waller’s 4.46 is significantly better than others who play tight end. A receiver like Kayshon Boutte, who clocked a 4.37-second 40-time in high school, would give the Raiders that much-needed speed on the outside. Of course, that’s if they intend to draft a wide receiver.
If Las Vegas prefers to allocate their draft picks elsewhere, D.J. Chark is hitting the free agent market this offseason. Rumors spread that Dave Ziegler and the Raiders had interest in Chark this past summer, but a deal never materialized.
Switching to Stidham could save you 15% or more on your Carr insurance
Lastly, the spotlight shines on the financial side of things.
Stidham is in the final year of his rookie contract. Even so, it’s hard to imagine it’ll cost too much for him to stick around. Carr, on the other hand, carries a $35 million cap hit this upcoming season. Considering ’22 UDFA Chase Garbers is under contract in 2023 with a cap hit of $870k, it’s safe to assume a quarterback room consisting of both Stidham and Garbers would be about $30 million less than Carr alone.
Ultimately, this means the Raiders will have more money in the bank. That’s more money to work on their defense or offensive line. How much money? The third-highest cap space in 2023 per Spotrac, at about $60 million once Carr has officially been traded. The team’s near QB-proof offense was mentioned earlier, so there’s no need to worry about that – especially if drafting a receiver who can fly downfield is in the cards.
Pro Bowl linebacker Denzel Perryman will be a free agent this offseason and finding a replacement for him is paramount. Lavonte David, Tremaine Edmunds, and Devin Bush highlight the potentially available linebackers in free agency. It’s safe to assume that Las Vegas will likely have one of these players in their sights.
There may not be a better way to improve the Raiders’ defense than by adding a premier defensive tackle up-front. Javon Hargrave and Dalvin Tomlinson fit the bill, and both should be available this summer. Retaining defensive tackle Andrew Billings will likely be part of the plan as well, and there’s enough money floating around to make it all happen if Jarrett Stidham is the team’s QB1 in 2023.
*Top Photo: NBC Sports/Boston