Garcia gives Oakland options

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson


The signing of Jeff Garcia is great move by the Oakland Raiders.

Garcia, 39, is the perfect short-term safety net for third-year quarterback JaMarcus Russell. If Russell gets hurt, Garcia can step in and do a solid job. If Russell doesn't make strides or if he regresses, Oakland has a veteran option.

I'm not saying 2009 is a make-or-break for Russell, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2007. But it is a vital season for him. He must get better after being mostly unproductive and inconsistent in 2008. He still has a chance to be a standout, but he must make improvements this year or Oakland might face a decision on his future.

At the NFL owners' meeting last month, Oakland coach Tom Cable made it clear he wants to see Russell take the next step. Cable wants to see Russell work harder and take charge more.

With Garcia signed, Oakland could try to trade backup Andrew Walter for a low-round draft choice.

Oakland also benefits from this deal because Garcia won't be a Bronco. If Denver wants another veteran to compete with Kyle Orton and Chris Simms, they will have to turn elsewhere because the Raiders just signed the best veteran quarterback available in free agency.