The quarterback position has seen the least amount of change of any position going into the 2021 season. The three field generals Coach Jon Gruden had last year — Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota and Nathan Peterman — have all returned.
Going into his eighth season with the organization, Derek Carr will once again be QB1. Carr has done everything imaginable to prove he's the right quarterback for the Silver and Black. No. 4 is currently the Raiders' career leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns at age 30. He is also coming off his third consecutive 4,000 yard season with a career-high passer rating.
So there is no time better for now for Derek Carr to get over the hump and lead the Raiders to the playoffs. He is going into his fourth season under Jon Gruden and has proven he is comfortable within the system and capable of commanding it. The Raiders have also done a lot in putting pieces of the offensive puzzle around him with Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller, free-agent signings John Brown and Willie Snead IV, and second-year receivers Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards who are expected to make big leap after their first full NFL offseason program.
Earlier this offseason during minicamp, Carr reiterated his commitment to the team that drafted him and his desire to accomplish more as their quarterback.
"My goal when I got here was to give everything I have to this organization, let our fans know that I'm giving it all that I have, and I will always continue to do that on-season, offseason and whether the situation is great or not, that's okay," Derek Carr said.
"People can say whatever they want. I know what I've put on film. I know the things I've been able to accomplish and I still want more. There's still more and I want to do it here. I don't want to do it anywhere else."
Behind Carr, the Raiders have a Heisman winner out of Oregon who brings a different dimension to the Raiders offense. Despite dealing with injuries most of last season, Mariota healed up in enough time to give one of the most valiant performances of any Raider last season against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Filling in for the injured Carr, Mariota sliced the Chargers defense for 314 yards and two touchdowns in an emotional performance.
"To be truthful, it's been a long journey," Mariota said after that game. "I've been through kind of everything, from injuries to surgeries to mental lapses — the confidence thing. I just truly appreciate the Raiders and the entire organization for kind of helping me through that. I was trying to kind of find my way again, and they gave me an opportunity to kind of take some time. They were patient with me. I just appreciate the fact that they were willing to do that. Again, it's kind of part of being an athlete, you're going to go through some ups and downs. I think the staff did a great job of kind of keeping me level-headed and kind of fighting through it."
"When it comes down to it, it's still ball. I just love being out there again, it was fun to play."
The third quarterback on the roster is Nathan Peterman, who performed well in mop-up duty last season against the Atlanta Falcons, completing 60 percent of his throws.
Earlier this offseason in an interview with Eric Allen, Jon Gruden expressed his pleasure with his quarterback room and the convenience of getting back the same trio for the offense.
"It's exciting to go in there and reinstall the plays, not start from scratch," Gruden said. "Derek is very underestimated. He doesn't get much credit for how good he's playing, but he completes a lot of passes. He changes players at the line of scrimmage. He's starting to make more and more plays with his legs now. Mariota was hurt most of last year. You got a glimpse of what he can do; he's still a special talent. And Nate Peterman is a guy we think is going to be a good player in time. We need some these preseason games to see where some of these guys are, but it all starts at quarterback."
If I had to make a prediction on what to expect from the quarterback room this season, it would be another career year from Derek Carr. He is firmly in the prime of his career and has established a relationship of mutual trust with Gruden.
Another thing to look out for is if the team comes out with any special packages for Marcus Mariota. While he would be a great option behind center for Carr if he gets hurt, No. 4 has been remained mostly healthy in his career as a Raider, missing only two regular-season games. Mariota excels as a dual-threat quarterback and could explore Wildcat-style packages to keep opposing defenses honest in key situations.
While Carr is locked in at the starting quarterback job, fans shouldn't be worried or surprised if Mariota gets his number called in 2021.