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Raiders coach Antonio Pierce not interested in ‘Band-Aid’ for quarterback

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THE Las Vegas Raiders are committed to Antonio Pierce. The team retired his interim coaching title shortly after the end of the 2023 season and named him full-time head coach.

Pierce and the Raiders brass traveled to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine this week, and the head coach gave some insight into what he hopes to have at quarterback for 2024.

“I don’t know how it’s going to go, but Telesco better start working its magic,” a smiling Pierce said in reference to general manager Tom Telesco’s offseason strategy.

“I told him, ‘It’s your turn now. All eyes are on you. I’m going to go undefeated for another six months.'”

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Antonio Pierce attends a press conference

Tom Telesco, left, and Antonio Pierce attend an introductory press conference at the Las Vegas Raiders Headquarters/Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center on January 24, 2024, in Henderson, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Raiders hold the 13th pick in the next NFL Draft.

Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels are this year’s top quarterback prospects. If the Raiders don’t want to trade or sign a veteran free agent quarterback, the team could choose to trade up to get one of the top young signal callers.

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“I’m sure it’s something Telesco has talked about before, but that’s my personality,” Pierce said of the possibility of making a trade to move up in the draft. “As you have seen and noted, I am a go-getter. But, obviously, this must be the subject of a collective agreement.”

Last season, Aidan O’Connell, a fourth-round pick in the 2023 draft, served as the starting quarterback for 10 games. Raiders signed veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo last offseason, but he struggled mightily, throwing seven touchdowns and nine interceptions in seven games.

Aidan O'Connell throws the football

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Aidan O’Connell (4) passes during the second quarter of a game against the New York Jets at Allegiant Stadium on November 12, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The franchise is expected to release Garoppolo later this offseason. Pierce explained what he was looking for in the team’s next quarterback, saying he wasn’t interested in a “Band-Aid.”

“I hope whoever we draft is the path we go down, that’s who becomes the starter,” Pierce said. “You don’t want to put a Band-Aid on that position. It’s old… it’s old, man. I think the Raiders… we’ve seen enough of that in this organization.”

Jimmy Garoppolo looks to throw

Jimmy Garoppolo of the Las Vegas Raiders attempts a pass in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High on September 10, 2023, in Denver, Colorado. (Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

The Raiders play in the same division as the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Pierce is looking for a quarterback who won’t shy away from the challenge of facing the two-time defending champs next season.

Antonio Pierce runs off the field

Interim head coach Antonio Pierce of the Las Vegas Raiders leaves the field after the Raiders defeated the New York Giants, 30-6, at Allegiant Stadium on November 5, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

“I want a guy who can lead, who wants to compete. I want a guy who is not afraid of challenges because it’s a big challenge that we have in front of us. We have the world champions in our division again .You know what you have to deal with every year, as long as you have Patrick Mahomes in our division,” Pierce said.

“I want someone who says, ‘You know what? I’m up for this challenge.’ “That’s the same way I see it against these three coaches in this division.”

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Pierce added that he is looking for a signal-caller who has proven his ability to win.

“You want someone who’s been tested, who’s been through adversity, who’s had challenges and who hasn’t just been handed the keys. Because that’s going to be the process here no matter what we do,” Pierce said.

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