Entering the 2023 NFL Draft, there were rumors that the Las Vegas Raiders were going to take one of the highly-touted quarterback prospects to groom behind Jimmy Garoppolo.
The Raiders wound up using their first-round pick on Tyree Wilson, but they did leave the draft with a rookie quarterback when they selected Aidan O’Connell in the fourth round. O’Connell had a subpar collegiate career, though he did manage to earn second-team All-Big Ten Conference honors in the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
O’Connell is currently competing with Brian Hoyer for the No. 2 signal-caller role, but fans raised eyebrows when he was given Derek Carr’s No. 4 to don on his jersey. However, the rookie downplayed the significance of it via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN”
Asked #Raiders rookie QB Aidan O’Connell what went into his wearing No. 4, after wearing No. 16 at Purdue. Said O’Connell: “It was the number that was given to me. I really don’t care what number I play with; I’ll play with any number. So, I don’t worry too much about that.”
— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) August 9, 2023
Las Vegas and Carr ended on a sour note as the latter was benched down the stretch last year. After failing to find a suitable trade, the Raiders ended up releasing Carr who then signed a four-year deal with the New Orleans Saints.
It seems a little disrespectful that the organization would hand Carr’s number to someone new so quickly, but O’Connell did the right thing by not feeding the narrative. Carr himself probably won’t think too much of the gesture, but there will certainly be people who find it odd.
Raiders fans are going to need time to get used to seeing someone else wearing No. 4 on the field, though O’Connell isn’t expected to see many snaps in 2023.
Derek Carr believes Raiders didn’t get his best in 2022 season
Carr served as the long-time leader and steward for Las Vegas, helping them get through several roller-coaster seasons that were filled with drama and losing. While he may not have been the most effective quarterback each year, his leadership was much needed as he managed to keep the locker room together.
As for his 2022 performance, the new Saints quarterback had his moments but didn’t look quite the same from years prior. Even Carr had to admit that the Raiders didn’t get his best last season, but none of that matters now as both sides have moved on.