- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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OK, it’s official: The Oakland Raiders found the quarterback they were looking for this offseason.
In their latest attempt to upgrade a large, but unimpressive quarterback group, the Raiders are trying to salvage the starting career of disposed Washington starter Jason Campbell. Oakland gave up a fourth-round pick in 2012. That’s a bargain price for a starting quarterback. Ironically, Oakland owner Al Davis finally got his new quarterback by dealing with former charges Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen.
Campbell was given a contract extension through the 2011 season. It is clear Oakland is putting its offense in the hands of Campbell.
Campbell won’t lose games for Oakland. He will keep the Raiders competitive. He should account for two or three more wins. So, Oakland should be out of that 11-loss danger zone. The Raiders have lost 11 or more games for the past seven years, which is an NFL record.
Campbell is the big move Oakland has been toying with all offseason. They were linked to Donovan McNabb (who was traded to Washington and who replaced Campbell), Ben Roethlisberger and Sage Rosenfels.
Campbell, 28, is not necessarily a long-term answer. But he has started 45 games in the past three seasons and he is steady. He has improved each season. He threw for 3,618 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. Compare those to Russell’s numbers and Campbell looks like a Pro Bowl player.
Campbell has the big arm Oakland covets and he is a smart player. He should help Oakland’s young receiving core of Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Provided the receivers hold onto the ball better, Oakland’s passing game should be improved.
The Raiders also have running backs Michael Bush and Darren McFadden. If these two runners can become more consistent, Oakland’s offense should be much improved. Or least, it should be competitive, which wasn’t the case much of last year. Oakland upgraded its defense with Rolando McClain and Lamarr Houston in the first and second round.
Saturday, Oakland addressed another big need. I was critical of the Raiders on Friday night for bypassing falling quarterbacks Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy. The Raiders needed to address the future at the position. Saturday, in the form of Campbell, the team addressed the immediate future and that’s good enough.
I applaud Oakland for realizing it needed to do something at quarterback. Even if Campbell just helps for the next two years, it can get Oakland out of the abyss. The quarterback position was holding Oakland back.
It’s time for Russell to be cut. Gradkowski is a nice backup option, but he has limitations. Oakland broadened its quarterback horizons with the Campbell deal. Now, it can finally become a legitimate NFL franchise.