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Aidan O'Connell ready to compete for Raiders' starting QB job

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Aidan O'Connell finished up his rookie campaign as the starting quarterback but knows competition is coming to keep the gig in 2024.

The second-year pro is set to battle free-agent addition Gardner Minshew this offseason for the job, and Vegas could also add a rookie to the equation during next week's draft. The prospect of competition doesn't bother the former Boilermaker.

"I think especially at this level, and I thought the same thing at Purdue, but especially at this level, there's going to be competition," O'Connell said via the team's official website. "I mean, it's the best of the best. The coaches and administration want to bring in the best players possible to try to make the team better, and the best guys are going to play, so I'm just trying to do my job."

O'Connell started 10 games as a rookie, tossing for 2,218 yards and 12 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Following the dismissal of Josh McDaniels midway through the season, O'Connell took over the starting gig permanently from Jimmy Garoppolo. The rookie started the final nine games as the Raiders went 5-4, including winning three of their final four tilts.

The 25-year-old showed flashes but also struggled for stretches as defenses got more tape -- including in the Christmas Day win over the Kansas City Chiefs when he completed just 9 of 21 passes for 62 yards, and the defense and ground game took center stage.

O'Connell will compete with Minshew, who proved last season in Indy he's a reliable starter that can keep an offense afloat.

The Raiders are one of several teams that could pick a first-round quarterback next Thursday. Sitting at No. 13, the question is whether new general manager Tom Telesco would trade assets to move up (something he rarely did in his time with the Los Angeles Chargers) or whether Vegas' preferred QB might fall to it. The Raiders could also eschew the position early and add a rookie signal-caller to the mix on Day 2 or 3.

Regardless of how next week plays out, O'Connell is ready to fight for the job.

"It's new at this level for me, but it's nothing new in terms of the competition," O'Connell said. "It's been even since high school what I've been dealing with and working through. That's just part of the game. It's not unique to any one position, it's how it is at every position."

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