Raiders' quarterback glass is only half full


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Jan 22, 2006
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Raiders' quarterback glass is only half full
Oakland likely will seek an experienced free agent, but who?
By Jim Jenkins -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PST Saturday, March 18, 2006

It would seem Josh McCown, the free-agent quarterback from the Arizona Cardinals, had a better chance to start for the Raiders than the Detroit Lions.
But McCown decided to hook up with Detroit, where he'll have to battle another free-agent signee, Jon Kitna from Cincinnati, for the No. 1 job that used to belong to deposed Joey Harrington.

McCown left his visit with Oakland on Wednesday without a contract offer.
Whether the Raiders had any genuine interest in him as a possible successor to the departed Kerry Collins, they aren't saying.

McCown, however, did offer an opinion to Arizona reporters a day later on why he thought there was no future for him in the East Bay. The gist of his remarks: The Raiders would not rule out using their No. 7 pick on a quarterback in the first round of the NFL draft in April. To McCown, a former starter with mobility and a strong arm, that created insecurity.

That observation might not be far off the mark.

After releasing Collins, the Raiders have two quarterbacks left on the roster, Marques Tuiasosopo, who has two career starts in five seasons, and Andrew Walter, a 2005 third-round pick from Arizona State with no starts.

Conventional wisdom holds that, to be safe, the Raiders will go to training camp with at least four quarterbacks. Two figure to be Tuiasosopo, a 2001 second-round pick from Washington, and Walter, whom the Raiders considered a steal in last year's draft. The team is said to be very high on Walter.

A third quarterback in that scenario likely would be a free agent who has started more than two games. And it's beginning to look as if the fourth in the group very well could be one of the three leading college prospects in the draft: USC's Matt Leinart, Texas' Vince Young and Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler.

A few weeks ago, the Raiders might not have thought they had a shot at any of those blue-chippers. But with so many veteran quarterbacks changing teams, and some ending up with clubs picking before Oakland in the draft order, the priorities aren't the same.

Houston, with the No. 1 overall choice, looks to be committed to USC running back Reggie Bush. New Orleans is at No. 2, but after signing Drew Brees from San Diego, the Saints aren't likely to draft a quarterback and will be entertaining trade offers for other needs.

Tennessee, from all indications, still plans to take a quarterback with the No. 3 pick as the heir apparent to injury-prone starter Steve McNair, even though Billy Volek is a capable substitute.

The New York Jets, at No. 4, are closely monitoring incumbent starter Chad Pennington is rehabbing from shoulder surgery, yet they traded with Washington for ex-starter Patrick Ramsey, a former first-round pick, Friday. Does that mean a change in the Jets' thinking?

At No. 5 is Green Bay. The word is Brett Favre will postpone retirement if convinced decent progress is being made rebuilding the team. Also, of course, the Packers spent a first-round pick on a quarterback last year, Aaron Rodgers from Cal.

The 49ers sit at No. 6. During a radio interview this week on KNBR, coach Mike Nolan, with humor in his voice, said that although the 49ers won't be shopping for a quarterback, the team picking just after them, the Raiders, might be.

Was that meant to hint at a deal between Bay Area teams whose draft positions were decided by a coin flip? As Nolan said, we'll have to see how it plays out over the next six weeks.

Meanwhile, the Raiders, who have yet to sign an outside free agent, lost cornerback-safety Renaldo Hill to Miami. According to Hill's agent, his client is getting a three-year, $6 million deal pending a physical he was expected to pass Friday.
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