Raiders QB Jimmy Garoppolo can't suit up -- Carson Wentz then?

Options Are Bare If Jimmy Garoppolo Can’t Suit Up: Carson Wentz, Anyone?

Leadership under center is vital. It can determine the outcome of a game in the final minutes. That’s why quarterbacks earn the big bucks, right? Depth at the position is becoming a conversation for owners throughout the league. Lamar Jackson’s and Trey Lance’s injuries emphasized the need for experienced gunslingers who can fill in if needed. The Las Vegas Raiders aren’t immune from this either, given the news regarding Jimmy Garoppolo. Entering Year 2 with Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler at the helm, the season could fall on the shoulders of a quarterback that’s not even on the roster at the moment—Carson Wentz, anyone?

A scurry for veteran talent caused rosters to be reshuffled in the offseason. Las Vegas parted ways with Derek Carr and Jarrett Stidham, committing to rebuilding a new offensive identity. They acquired Jimmy Garoppolo and Brian Hoyer with the expectation of raising the bar. As we approach the upcoming season, are there any free agent quarterbacks that could help the Raiders?

Should the Las Vegas Raiders kick the tires on Nick Foles?

Signing a free agent quarterback is risky for a franchise searching for longevity. Age is a factor for most gunslingers in this pool. Fifty percent of the available free-agent quarterbacks are over thirty years old. Their mobility might be questionable, but experience on the gridiron could help the depth tremendously.

Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco are noteworthy free agents. They both have extensive resumes, but Nick Foles would be a better “buy.” He’s four years younger than both veterans (34) and has experience in big moments. In 2017, Foles filled in for Carson Wentz during Philadelphia’s playoff run. He led his team past the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game, and Philadelphia later became Super Bowl Champions.

Foles has ventured around the league since his Super Bowl victory. He spent time in Jacksonville and Chicago before becoming a Colt in 2022. Limited snaps on the field reflect in his stat line. Personally speaking, Foles has enough experience to lead an offense for a limited stretch of games. His experience under center will benefit Raiders’ rookie Aidan O’Connell as well.

Will Dave Ziegler give Carson Wentz a call?

Carson Wentz has had his share of success in the league; that’s hard to argue against. Honestly, his career as a professional has been impressive, despite recent struggles. In 2017, Wentz finished third in MVP voting. He threw 33 touchdown passes for 3,296 yards in thirteen games, though he was unfortunately on the sidelines for the Eagles’ Super Bowl run.

In 2021, Wentz relocated to the Colts after lackluster seasons following his injury in Philadelphia. He finished the season with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions – but failed to help Indianapolis add to the win column. A trade with the Washington Commanders sent the veteran to his third team in three seasons. His season was cut short due to injuries once again.

Wentz could become a starter on several rosters in the NFL despite these issues. Why not sign him for the right price? His experience with the Eagles makes him a reliable backup for a franchise with uncertainties under center. He’s hungry for an opportunity and would make a solid second option.

Oh, and there’s Teddy Bridgewater, too.

If Las Vegas is concerned about Wentz’s decision-making in the pocket, Teddy Bridgewater would be another logical option. His resume lacks some of the prestigious accolades. He makes up for it with confidence and experience. In 2015, Bridgewater led the Vikings to an 11-5 record, earning Pro Bowl honors.

Stints with the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, and Denver Broncos have helped Bridgewater develop. In 2022, the Miami Dolphins relied on the veteran to fill in for Tua Tagovailoa while he nursed multiple concussions. Miami didn’t win a game with No. 5 behind center, but that was a team effort. Bridgewater managed the game well, completing over 60 percent of his passes.

Investing in a veteran quarterback with experience will help Las Vegas in the future. Bridgewater’s also a reliable insurance option in case Garoppolo experiences another injury. His desire merits the respect of his peers, which will help Bridgewater find success wherever he lands.

Investing in a free agent will give Ziegler and Co. the confidence they need to compete this season. Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to perform well, but it doesn’t hurt to prepare for the worst. Relying on Brian Hoyer in an emergency doesn’t spark too much confidence, especially with the free agent talent available.

*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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