As long as the quarterback carousel is spinning, the Raiders will be a team mentioned in connection with its occupants because, well, Jon Gruden is enamored with the quarterback position. It has nothing to do with Derek Carr, who had a great year in 2020 and almost certainly will be the starting quarterback in 2021.
But the Silver and Black could be in play for a franchise quarterback who reportedly is looking for a fresh start.
No, not that one.
Russell Wilson's camp has "broached trade destinations" with the Seattle Seahawks, The Athletic's Michael-Shawn Dugar, Mike Sando and Jayson Jenks reported Thursday. The Raiders were one of the reported landing spots mentioned, along with the New Orleans Saints, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins.
Wilson's agent, Mark Rodgers, told ESPN's Adam Schefter that the quarterback has not requested a trade but the only teams he would consider a trade to are the Raiders, Saints, Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys.
Wilson has a no-trade clause in his contract.
There's no doubt that Wilson, a top-three quarterback in the NFL, would be an upgrade. That's not a knock on Carr, that's just how good Wilson is. But the Raiders might not be the ideal destination Wilson believes them to be.
Yes, Las Vegas has a solid offensive line anchored by all-world center Rodney Hudson and a bevy of offensive skill players that would allow the offense to be centered around Wilson's unique play-making ability as opposed to Pete Carroll's preferred run-first style.
But the Raiders have plenty of issues, and none of them, despite what Twitter might tell you, are Carr's fault.
The defense was ghastly in 2019 and the free-agent additions of Cory Littleton, Nick Kwiatkoski, Carl Nassib and Maliek Collins didn't do a thing to fix it. The lack of a pass rush and gaping holes in the secondary put too much on Carr's shoulders, asking him to routinely engineer 30 points to have a chance to win.
Can Wilson carry a team with a bad defense to the playoffs? Of course, he just did it last year. The Seahawks went 12-4 and won the NFC West but lost in the divisional round after the Los Angeles Rams bottled up Wilson and the offense.
There's little doubt that if the Seahawks do entertain offers for Wilson, Gruden will call. He has to inquire about the ability to bring in one of the best players in the game.
But what's the end result for this Raiders team with Wilson? Any trade for Wilson almost certainly starts with Derek Carr and at least one first-round pick or two, and another first round pick.
Wilson is worth it because transcendent quarterbacks don't grow on trees, but that would zap the Raiders of the precious draft capital they need to build a league-average defense to support their star quarterback.
Despite the small boost to 8-8 this past season, Gruden and the Raiders are more than a star quarterback away from being legitimate title contenders.
Wilson is in the prime of his career and wants to win now as he surveys his legacy.
The Raiders have a number of issues. Gruden has to evolve as a play-caller. The Raiders have to figure out more creative ways to get Ruggs involved, or else they will have wasted a first-round pick on a player they are drastically misusing. The entire defense has to be rebuilt. That will take time and an influx of talent best acquired via the draft.
Wilson could help the Raiders win now, yes. He could carry them to 10 or 11 wins. But that road ends in a frustrating playoff defeat where a subpar Raiders defense can't get off the field.
Gruden undoubtedly will salivate at the chance to bring Wilson to Sin City. But the Raiders might be better served passing and playing the long game. They are just on a different title track than Wilson.