Oakland Raiders Off-Season: What Does The Matt Leinart Signing Mean for Terrelle Pryor?
Jimmy Hal – May 10, 2012
The Oakland Raiders recently signed backup quarterback Matt Leinart. With the need of quarterback depth at a premium, the acquisition of Leinart made more sense than root beer and vanilla ice cream.
Leinart has a friend and mentor in Carson Palmer; the Raiders' presumed starter at the position. He also has an existing, though brief, relationship with current offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.
On paper, it seems to be a perfect match.
However, the Raiders have another quarterback on their roster in which they have invested a third round draft pick, Terrelle Pryor. So what does the signing of Leinart mean for Terrelle Pryor? Does this mean the Raiders have given up on Pryor’s maturation as a quarterback?
Not at all. In fact, Leinart’s acquisition might actually further Pryor’s progression. Leinart’s knowledge of Knapp’s west coast offense can help Pryor understand exactly what Knapp wants executed in the pass game.
General manager Reggie McKenzie has preached competition at every position. Now, Pryor’s play will truly be tested against legitimate talent. Until Matt Leinart was signed, the only quarterback on the roster other than Palmer and Pryor was Rhett Bomar.
While many are taking the time to Google who Rhett Bomar is, Pryor is now under the tutelage of a quarterback that understands the offense, and by competing with him, he now can sharpen his game to prove to this coaching staff that he is ready for increased responsibility.
Head coach Dennis Allen knows how talented Pryor is and has admitted that he has steps to take. “He’s not there from a mental standpoint, fundamental standpoint, which is true of 99 percent of the young quarterbacks that come into this league.”
Allen goes on to say “…he’s shown me this, this guy is a worker. He wants to prove to everybody that he can be a quarterback for us in the National Football League.”
Some may say that is just coach speak; it is just a head coach trying not to throw a player under the bus. But, you can make the case that the same could be said about the Raiders feelings for Carson Palmer.
Allen emphasized Pryor’s work ethic, something that has been questioned in Leinart’s past. To Leinart’s credit, he did the best he could to redeem his name as a Houston Texan. In the offseason as a free agent in 2011, Leinart’s former college coach Pete Carroll barely even looked at Leinart, before acquiring Tavaris Jackson, and the Seattle Seahawks quarterback position was not exactly stable.
I am sure that humbled him a great deal.
Keep this in mind. Let’s say theoretically speaking, Palmer gets hurt around week six of the regular season, or maybe Palmer is just not playing well. Let’s assume it is a close competition between Pryor and Leinart, who gets the call?
Pryor still has a lot of upside as a quarterback, and the Raiders will be forced to see Pryor in the line of fire if they believe he is ready. Leinart on the other hand has had his chances, and the Raiders may not be able to afford to give him another.
Really think about that scenario before you wonder if the Raiders are ready to give up on Pryor’s development, because it is not far-fetched to believe that Pryor can beat Leinart, and that the Raiders may need him as more than just a wildcat option.
Some Raider fans remain hesitant on Terrelle Pryor. Some see him as another Jamarcus Russell, and no Raider fan wants to go through that again. But this player and circumstance is completely different. It is literally comparing apples to oranges. Pryor is working and fighting for a position that was given to Russell, and it was given to Matt Leinart as well.
Follow us on Twitter: @RNTimes
Like Raider Nation Times
How Would You Grade the Raiders Free Agency So Far?