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Pierce says Raiders ready to hunt QB upgrade: ‘Everybody has a price’

Antonio Pierce is already pondering a new future for the Raiders at quarterback.

The team’s first-year coach, speaking on The Pivot Podcast with former NFL players Ryan Clark, Fred Taylor and Channing Crowder, made it clear he expects to pursue upgrades this offseason. The Raiders started rookie Aidan O’Connell nine times last season and went 5-4 in those games.

Pierce suggested the team is prepared to use every tool at its disposal to bring in someone new.

The process begins in earnest next week when Pierce and new general manager Tom Telesco attend the NFL’s scouting combine in Indianapolis. A deep quarterback class offers the Raiders multiple opportunities to improve, though they may need to move up from their slot at No. 13 to grab one of the top prospects.

“The wildcard is the quarterback. What are we going to do? Well, we’ve got to put a plan together,” Pierce said. “There are always quarterbacks there are ways to get. Everybody has a price. There’s always a price. There’s always something that people are willing to do, like woo, ‘You’re giving me that, for this?’ You can create a little doubt there, a little like, interest, as far as if they want to make that move.”

Southern California’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye and Louisiana State’s Jayden Daniels have separated themselves as the top three quarterbacks in this class. The Raiders would most likely have to move into the top three to grab any of them.

Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy is gaining momentum as well. He is being talked about as a top-10 pick. A strong combine can solidify that status.

The Raiders could also dip into the free agent market, where veterans Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins are expected to be available. Bears quarterback Justin Fields may be a trade target if Chicago takes a quarterback with the first overall pick.

As Pierce put it, “What if it is not the draft? Well, then we’ve gotta go through free agency.”

Pierce said there is a world where the Raiders strike out in their quarterback search and roll with O’Connell next season. Pierce called it a “worst-case scenario,” however, even though he remains intrigued by the 2023 fourth-round pick’s potential.

“What happens if we give this kid a whole offseason, like we are giving the head coach, and an opportunity to grow and learn?” Pierce said. “Because he played his ass off the last five games.”

The Raiders starting quarterback, whoever it is, will work with new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.

The team was set to hire Kliff Kingsbury for the position, but he pulled out of the running and accepted the same job with the Commanders.

“NFL — not for long,” Pierce said of the Kingsbury situation. “I thought we had a guy, but not for long. Until you put pen to paper, man, that’s one thing I learned. It’s no different than (a player) in free agency, right? Teams are recruiting you, things are going on.”

Pierce hinted Magic Johnson, who has an ownership stake with the Commanders, played a role in Kingsbury spurning the Raiders for Washington.

“Listen, Magic Johnson’s pretty good. I guess he can still dish it out a little bit,” Pierce said. “If I’m losing to Magic, I’m OK with that.”

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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