Add another offensive player to the Oakland Raiders’ free-agent haul as quarterback EJ Manuel, a former first-round draft pick, is headed to the East Bay to compete with second-year pro Connor Cook to be Derek Carr’s backup.
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What it means: Matt McGloin is done as a Raider ... or close to it. McGloin, an unrestricted free agent who wants a chance to compete for a starting gig somewhere, was not going to get that opportunity in Oakland. Not after his flameout and injury in the season finale at Denver, and not after going 1-6 as a starter in four seasons. Manuel, who was taken 16th overall by the Buffalo Bills out of Florida State in 2013, started 10 games as a rookie, but then lost his job in his second season and is 6-11 as a starter in his career and has not won a game since Week 2 of the 2014 season. Cook, meanwhile, was the Raiders’ fourth-round pick last season and did not dress for a game until Week 17, after Carr went down with a broken right fibula. Cook then started Oakland’s first playoff game since the 2002 season and had a rough go of it against the Houston Texans’ defense, to put it mildly. This is not the splashiest of signings, and, in some ways it's a head-scratcher, but Manuel does have experience and a past with new Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing, who was Manuel’s position coach in Buffalo in 2014. And that should count for something, right?
What’s the risk: Manuel may not make the team. Yes, I realize it’s only March, but what if roster limitations -- Oakland has lost a lot of special teams standouts thus far in free agency and need to restock the numbers -- mean the Raiders can only keep two QBs on the 53-man roster? Surely, the Raiders would be more invested in Cook than Manuel, which would make Manuel expendable. Manuel is a big dropback quarterback, less mobile than Carr or Cook. And bringing in Manuel could impede the growth of Cook if Manuel gets more snaps. Then again, competition is supposed to make everyone better, yes?