Updated December 8, 2023 - 3:10 pm
The Raiders are back from their bye week and face five must-win games to close out their season.
There is minimal margin for error, meaning it is almost to the point where fans’ focus shifts towards the offseason. That leads to a lot of questions about what could happen next.
Here is a sampling of what arrived in this week’s mailbag:
I Am Jack’s Smirking Revenge (@6thvot1): Is it me, or is Aidan O’Connell being given a much shorter leash to show what he can be vs. others in his draft class? He’s already outplayed (rookie quarterbacks) Bryce Young, Will Levis and Anthony Richardson, but you don’t see people on those teams saying they need to draft another QB next year. Give the kid 2023 to see.
VINCENT BONSIGNORE: Valid question.
The issue is what the perceived ceilings are for the other QBs compared to O’Connell. Young’s potential will buy him time with the Panthers because they believe the payoff will be worth it. One could also argue Young’s season would look a whole lot better if he were playing with the Raiders’ supporting cast.
The question as it relates to O’Connell is what his realistic ceiling is and whether it’s worth waiting around for him to reach it. Especially if the Raiders have an opportunity to bring in a player with more upside next offseason.
Matt Berger (@matt_berger): Will Antonio Pierce need to win out to become the full-time head coach?
VB: Pierce’s return isn’t tied to going 5-0 down the stretch, though it would obviously help his case.
Raiders owner Mark Davis has consistently said he will let the process guide him to a decision. That means he’ll take in the rest of the regular season and then evaluate his options once the coaching search begins at the end of the year. It’s impossible to guess how it will play out without knowing who is interested and who will ultimately interview.
Pierce will for sure be under consideration, however.
Jay Singh (@A_I_R_15): Who will the Raiders quarterback be next year if not Aidan O’Connell?
VB: LSU’s Jayden Daniels. Just taking a wild guess.
Matthew (@MatthewNortny): Have the Raiders tried to unload Jimmy Garoppolo to a contender? Even if we absorbed some of the contract, with us most likely drafting a quarterback, it would be the move in my eye.
VB: That would be a conversation for the offseason because the NFL trade deadline was Oct. 31. The Raiders, whatever they do with Garoppolo, will have to act fast this winter. They owe him his $11.25 million roster bonus for 2024. But his $11.25 million salary in 2024 becomes guaranteed only if he’s on the roster the fifth day of the new league year in March. The Raiders will likely cut him if they can’t trade him by that deadline.
Ed Helinski (@MrEd315): What kinds of things should the Raiders ask for from Santa this year?
VB: They should ask for five more regular-season wins, for rookie defensive end Tyree Wilson to get on a roll down the stretch and for O’Connell to unlock this offense’s potential.
AZ_Raider75 (@AZRaider75): Any chance that Mark Davis will hire a president of (football) operations?
VB: Davis is assessing things and talking to his inner circle. He’s open to various approaches. A firm decision likely won’t be made until the end of the season.
No matter what, the Raiders have to do extensive searches for their head coach and general manager positions.