One of the offseason priorities of the Raiders should be to nab a veteran quarterback.
It needs to be someone good enough to usher the franchise into respectability but who has such limited options that the Raiders look promising. Someone who brings winning experience to the table while still having enough juice to run with youngsters. Someone who knows how to wade through rough waters -- because they're sure to come -- and talented enough to produce in less-than-ideal circumstances.
Two words: Michael. Vick.
Whomever the Raiders line up as starting quarterback will have flaws. That's just where they are as a franchise at this point. A big-time quarterback at the peak of his game is not coming to Oakland right now. There will be rough times whether it's either of the two who started last season, one of the rookie passers in the draft, or one of the few free-agent quarterbacks.
Of them all, Vick gives them the best chance to make a push for 8-8, 9-7, and at least be in the playoff conversation late in the season.
No, Vick won't guarantee that. But he's the best bet for it. In fact, this is right in his wheelhouse. The knock on his career is an inability to get good teams over the hump. Making bad teams competitive, guiding franchises from the cellar to the playoffs, Vick is proven in that area. He did it in Atlanta and in Philadelphia. And that's all the Raiders realistically need right now.
Even though he'll be 34 when the season begins, Vick is still a solid option. He perhaps will never be what he was, but the smart move would be to milk him for what he has left during this transitional phase. He still has the legs to force defenses to pay attention, and he has a cannon for an arm they must respect. As Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick showed in the postseason, that's a valuable commodity.
Vick's big problem has been turnovers (33 total in his last 30 games), mostly born of his suspect accuracy. Still, he brings much more than what the Raiders have -- and the rest is Dennis Allen earning his money.
With that said, Vick wasn't bad last year. He came out of the gates on fire in Eagles coach Chip Kelly's new offense before laying eggs against Kansas City and at Denver, eventual playoff teams. Then injuries opened the door for Nick Foles, who took Kelly's system and ran with it.
Vick wasn't awful. In six starts, he posted a passer rating of 86.5. The Raiders: 73.9, 28th in the NFL.
Oakland's offense could use a boost behind center to complement a productive run game. Vick brings explosiveness and credibility to the offense. Putting him in an offense that highlights his accuracy more than his duality would be a mistake. But this Raiders staff has experience with inaccurate quarterbacks, so adjusting to Vick shouldn't be a problem.
Some intangibles need to be considered, too. Vick has served time in federal prison. He has risen from national enemy to redeemed athlete. He has endured bankruptcy and multiple injuries, bouncing back from both. Foles took his spot, and Vick became a supportive backup.
Think he can't handle the Raiders drama?
Remember, the pressure is on from owner Mark Davis, the coach and general manager having been spared from the chopping block. This could be an all-out soap opera. It matters to have a quarterback who can stand up and take the blows, who can bounce back after getting knocked down.
No doubt, whatever deal Vick signs should be loaded with performance incentives, because he is injury prone. And it won't be enough to just throw him back there. Weapons to surround him and offensive line upgrades are in order, but that's true for whoever is under center.
The Raiders still can draft a quarterback. They still can give Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor a chance to compete for the job. But signing Vick raises the bar. Where the Raiders are right now, they need someone who can do that.
Veteran QB can handle adversity and would give the Raiders a chance to contend.