The Oakland Raiders have money to spend on players. The Oakland Raiders do not have a quarterback.
Now they’ve spent their money, and they do have a quarterback. Problem solved? We-e-e-e-l-l-l-l-l . . .
Unconvinced that he could build for a seamless future with any of the quarterbacking draft bait -- or, quite possibly, in no mood to wait given the invisible clock on the employment wall -- general manager Reggie McKenzie just invested $10 million in real money and $14.5 million in cap number on former Houston Texan Matt Schaub.
Two years ago, this would have been an enormous get for a team that desperately needs one. Now, it is a stab in the dark on a quarterback whose stock raced by Bitcoin on the way to the earth’s crust last year. Assuming that the truth on Schaub lies firmly between those two poles, the Raiders have now avoided the ganglia of Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Derek Carr, David Fales, et. al.
And while Schaub is no sure thing after a season in which his confidence was turned to a pile of seeds and stems, he is more of a safe thing than any of the draftables. And let’s be honest -- it isn’t as though the Raiders, even after their Turkish bazaar of signings the past eight days, don’t have other needs confronting them.
The only issue, continuing the honesty, is whether McKenzie is rolling the dice on yet another veteran hoping for a quick score that allows him and head coach Dennis Allen to avoid Mark Davis’ wandering and dissatisfied eye.
Schaub is not a stand on the bold and cheery future -- and the same can be said for the Raiders’ other free agency gets. Then again, free agency isn’t about the young and the restless. You don’t get to be a free agent when you’re young; that’s the beauty of the system.
That’s what the draft is for, anyway.
But that is also the hidden truth of this offseason. The Raiders will do as well as their draft says it will. This is a team that desperately needs not only to plug holes with expediencies like Schaub but to regenerate its culture with useful young players who will stay awhile and reconnect with the team’s army of increasingly disaffected fans.
The team has now been without Al Davis’ guiding hand for more than two years, and the number of people who sigh wistfully for the good old days are now down to a precious few. This is McKenzie’s first, and perhaps last, best chance to change the Raiders’ football culture from old and tired to young and sprightly, but free agency is not that tool. The draft is.
So Matt Schaub . . . fine and dandy. One need filled for the moment, and yet so very much still to do.