Raiders Have Building Blocks in Place, Cap Room to Take Big Leap Forward in 2015

The Oakland Raiders may be mulling a move back to Los Angeles, but what really needs to change isn't the team's zip code.

It's the Raiders' view from the AFC West basement, a residence the Raiders have held for the better part of the past decade.

Of course, it's a view the team vows to change each and every season, and yet when all is said and done, the Raiders have wound up right back in the cellar.

This year, though, just might be different. In 2015, the Raiders enter the season with more than just loads of salary-cap space with which to add pieces in free agency and more than just another top-five pick in the NFL draft.

This time, the Raiders actually have a few pieces to build around, and that could make the difference between another season of wheel-spinning and the leap toward respectability that Raiders fans have craved for so long.

Of course, a quick look at the Raiders quarterbacks over that decade of futility goes a long way toward explaining why the team hasn't made a playoff appearance since 2002. Whether it was veteran retreads such as Carson Palmer and Kerry Collins or draft-day disasters such as JaMarcus Russell, the quarterback position in Oakland has been a catastrophe.

Granted, Derek Carr's numbers as a rookie weren't jaw-dropping. Carr threw for just under 3,300 yards in 2014, tossing 21 touchdown passes against 12 interceptions. He posted a passer rating of less than 80, ranked 38th among 39 qualifying quarterbacks at Pro Football Focus and guided the NFL's worst offense last season.

And yet, new Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio didn't hesitate for a moment when Jim Rome asked him if he thought Carr was the Raiders' franchise quarterback of the future. 

"Carr's a special young talent," Del Rio said, per Chris Wesseling of "He's got a really quick release, good decision-maker; he'...

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