NFL Trade Rumors: Las Vegas Raiders Leaning Towards Aidan O'Connell Over Gardner Minshew at Quarterback

The Las Vegas Raiders quarterback competition has an early leader. According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, incumbent Aidan O'Connell "probably has the slight edge" over free agent acquisition Gardner Minshew to start at quarterback for the 2024 season, but the two are in a "real battle."

The Raiders took O'Connell 135th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, and he went on to make 10 starts following an injury to expected starter Jimmy Garoppolo. He ended his season with a 5-5 record, 2218 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, and seven interceptions, averaging a middling 5.57 net yards per passing attempt.

Minshew is a journeyman and minor folk hero at the quarterback position, with 37 total starts between stints with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles, and Indianapolis Colts. 2023 was arguably his best season as a pro: He earned a Pro Bowl appearance for winning seven of 13 starts and compiling 3305 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, and nine interceptions with the Colts. The Raiders signed him to a two-year, $25 million deal earlier this offseason.

Given how close their production is to this point in their careers, it makes sense for the Raiders to lean toward O'Connell over Minshew. O'Connell is younger (25 to 28), and his familiarity with the offense and the roster should allow him to build on whatever chemistry or momentum he built last season. His production last year was respectable for a rookie, and it's still possible he can progress as a passer. Minshew is far more of a known quantity.

Still, there's a reason O'Connell was drafted as late as he was. He's also unusually old for a second-year player. 2024 will likely be a make-or-break season in deciding his potential as a franchise quarterback. If he can't prove he's a winning player early in the season, the Raiders probably won't hesitate to pull him. Even if O'Connell wins the camp battle, it's very possible we haven't heard the last of Minshew Mania.

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