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Raiders quarterback search: What we learned this week

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By: Bill Williamson

Tom Telesco, Antonio Pierce | Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Coach Antonio Pierce is ready to swing big

The Las Vegas Raiders began the next phase of their search for a new quarterback at the NFL Combine this week as they met with the top prospects in Indianapolis.

Here is a look at some of the things we learned about the Raiders’ journey for a new quarterback in the past couple of days:

Antonio Pierce is ready to go for it:

Pierce told reporters Wednesday that he is a “go-getter” who is aggressive by nature when asked if he wants to trade up for a quarterback. So, yes, Pierce is ready to make a big splash in an attempt to find his franchise quarterback. Thus, the trade-up watch is on.

It’s on Tom Telesco:

The decision to move up in the draft, of course, isn’t all Pierce’s. New Las Vegas general manager Tom Telesco has a major say in the decision and it would be up to him to figure out the package and execute the deal. Telesco did say anything is on the table, including an attempt to try to move up from the Raiders’ current slot of No. 13 to get a quarterback. Pierce joked it’s time for Telesco to do his magic. It won’t be easy to move up for many reasons, so all eyes are on Telesco to see how the Raiders handle this journey for a new quarterback.

Will they even be able to get a top prospect?

There are three top quarterback prospects considered worth making a big trade up for — USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye and LSU Jayden Daniels. Williams is expected to go No. 1 to Chicago. Washington is expected to take either Maye or Daniels at No. 2 and there are reports New England is leaning toward taking a quarterback at No. 3. That was considered the Raiders’ trade sweet spot.

But if New England doesn’t put the pick up for sale, the Raiders may not have anyone worth taking super high. Although, there is a chance it could trade up to the No. 7 range to secure Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy if Las Vegas falls in love with him. So, the Raiders need to figure if McCarthy (if he’s there), Michael Penix or Bo Nix are worth taking at No. 13 if the big trade-up plan becomes moot because the lack of availability

Drake Maye appeal:

Say the Raiders make an early trade to No. 3. That would only be wise if they think Maye is the answer. We all know Pierce would love to reunite with Daniels, who was with him at Arizona State. But if the Raiders get to No. 3 before the draft and Washington takes Daniels (which is a real possibility) they will be stuck if they don’t love Maye.

No band-aid approach?

Pierce made it clear this week that he doesn’t want a short-term answer at quarterback. He’s ready to be set at the position for the long haul. Yet, there are no guarantees how things unfold. A trade for Justin Fields could be a long-term answer, so we can’t solely keep our attention on the draft, but that certainly seems where the coach is currently focused on.

Knowing the risks of trade:

Pierce candidly said he knows he will likely be fired someday (nearly every coach is). He knows he has to go for it. There’s no guarantee of any quarterback working out and if the Raiders’ pick ends up not being worth a huge price tag, it won’t look good on this regime. Pierce seems to be OK with that.

New York Giants v Las Vegas Raiders
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Antonio Pierce

Aidan O’Connell’s status:

There was a report last week that said Telesco wants a big-name quarterback and Pierce was behind the idea of keeping Aidan O’Connell as the quarterback. However, Pierce’s words this week didn’t suggest that at all. Perhaps plans fall through and O’Connell ends up as the starter in 2024, but it’s clear the Raiders are searching for an upgrade at this point.

Originally posted on Silver And Black Pride