The Las Vegas Raiders played better than many people thought they would down the stretch of the 2023 regular season. While the team didn’t qualify for the postseason, they played hard under interim head coach Antonio Pierce and were competitive.
That is more than could be said for the majority of the time Josh McDaniels was head coach as the team played with more effort and spirit under Pierce. While he hasn’t been named the full-time head coach, that is what many players on the team are hoping happens.
Once the head coach and general manager positions are filled on a full-time basis, the Raiders can get to work on upgrading the roster. There are a few positions that stick out as potential needs this offseason, one of them being quarterback.
Rookie Aidan O’Connell showed some promise after he replaced veteran Jimmy Garopppolo as the starter when Pierce took over. But, there were also some serious struggles, such as the team getting shut out by the Minnesota Vikings or when O’Connell didn’t complete a pass after the first quarter on Christmas Day against the Kansas City Chiefs.
If the Raiders are going to upgrade at quarterback, it would likely come in free agency. They are currently No. 13 in the draft and a trade-up would be extremely costly to be in range for one of the top quarterback prospects.
One player who could pique their interest in free agency is Baker Mayfield. Ryan Fowler of Bleacher Report believes the Raiders are the best fit for the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft this offseason.
“With star wideout Davante Adams in place and Antonio Pierce potentially set to become the permanent head coach, the Raiders could soon have a clear foundation in place.
“If Baker Mayfield somehow gets away from Tampa Bay, Vegas is the clear spot where his game could continue to thrive. The Raiders need some spunk under center, and who better to provide that than Mayfield?” wrote Fowler.
Mayfield had a career renaissance with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2023. His career as a starter was on the line after the Cleveland Browns replaced him with Deshaun Watson and he was traded to the Carolina Panthers, where the results were disastrous.
But he bounced back in a big way this season, helping the Buccaneers advance to the Divisional Round and a matchup against the Detroit Lions. The Raiders would certainly benefit from having a player of that caliber under center, taking pressure off of their backfield to carry the load offensively.
It is hard to imagine the Buccaneers letting Mayfield leave town, as he should be their starter for the foreseeable future. But, he will have plenty of suitors in the offseason, the Raiders being among them.