It took 16 weeks, but the Raiders finally have a quarterback controversy on their hands.
As controversies go, it's not exactly Daryle Lamonica vs. Ken Stabler or Marc Wilson vs. Jim Plunkett.
When the Raiders visit the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, the quarterback will be someone other than Carson Palmer for the first time in 24 games.
With Palmer out for the regular-season finale with a bruised lung and cracked ribs, the starter will either be Matt Leinart or Terrelle Pryor.
Leinart, who came in when Palmer's season ended on a helmet-to-the-back hit from Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy, was 16-for-32 for 115 yards, no touchdowns and a costly interception in a 17-6 loss to the Panthers.
Pryor came in for three specialty plays as a shotgun quarterback with the quarterback (Palmer once, Leinart twice) split wide. He caught a screen pass on a double pass from Palmer on the second play from scrimmage, had a 2-yard run to the 4-yard line, then dumped a 5-yard pass to Marcel Reece, also in the red zone.
Afterward, coach Dennis Allen, when asked why Pryor didn't play more, maintained that Leinart was the backup and that Pryor simply wasn't ready to be a backup.
Then came the Monday about-face -- with Allen saying Leinart and Pryor would both get first-team reps during the week, and that he was open to the possibility of Pryor being the starter.
The issues for the Raiders are two-fold at the quarterback position as they first attempt to put themselves in position to win their final game of the season to finish 5-11 and at the same time try to decipher the future at the most important position on the field.
Leinart, who got his most extensive regular-season playing time in three years, has a better grasp of the Raiders offense. He can get the team in and out of the huddle and make checks at the line of scrimmage.
He has limited mobility and a below-average throwing arm. An unrestricted free agent this offseason, he'll likely compete to be a backup quarterback somewhere next season.
Pryor, the third-round supplemental selection a year ago out of Ohio State, was the final pick made by late owner Al Davis.
As such, the physical attributes which wowed Davis are not necessarily the same ones coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie believe will make an NFL quarterback.
Although Pryor has worked diligently on his footwork and fundamentals, he remains an inconsistent passer -- especially at short and medium range.
Just as big an issue is the coaching staff believes Pryor has difficulty using those fundamentals in pressure situations. And while Pryor said he has memorized the playbook, they remain skeptical he can get the team in and out of the huddle to the line of scrimmage, get plays off on time, change them at the line of scrimmage if necessary, and do it in such a way that the cadence doesn't throw off his own offensive linemen.
That makes it a possibility the Raiders will use both quarterbacks -- Leinart to run the offense essentially as Palmer would run it, and Pryor to come in for a few series as a change of pace to run a shotgun, roll out and operate a specific package of plays.
Long-term, the question that will play itself out over the early part of the postseason is whether Palmer, who passed for 4,018 yards, 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, is the team's quarterback of the future.
Palmer is on the books for a $15 million salary next season -- a lot of money to pay a starting quarterback on a team which may not be anywhere near close to being a contender.
Palmer turned 32 on December, and it remains to be seen if the Raiders will determine that the quarterback will be playing at a high enough level far enough in his career to make a difference.
In truth, Palmer was the closest thing the Raiders had to a top line offensive player in some games, but the supporting cast was suspect. In particular, Oakland was unable to run the ball often enough to truly take advantage of Palmer's skill sin play action.
The Raiders gave up first- and second-round draft picks for Palmer in 2011, and while Palmer has quickly climbed the charts in terms of passing yardage and joined Rich Gannon as the only quarterbacks in franchise history to pass for 4,000 yards, his record as a starter is 8-16.
Palmer's touchdown pass-to-interception ratio in 25 games (he came off the bench in his first game) is 34-30 and he still occasionally throws balls into coverage despite his experience.
With a handful of NFL teams looking for experienced quarterbacks and the NFL draft not nearly being as rich as it was last season during the Andrew Luck-Robert Griffin III-Ryan Tannehill-Colin Kaepernick-Russell Wilson extravaganza, Palmer could bring additional value in a trade.
The Raiders are expected under McKenzie to seek as many picks as possible -- including replacing the second-round pick they lost to Cincinnati in this year's draft for Palmer -- under McKenzie.
SERIES HISTORY: 106th regular-season meeting. Raiders lead series, 57-46-2. Chargers won the first meeting between the teams 22-14 in the season opener as long-snapper Jon Condo was knocked out with a concussion and three bad snaps contributed to San Diego points. Carson Palmer passed for 297 yards and threw a touchdown and two-point conversion pass to Rod Streater while Sebastian Janikowski kicked two field goals. In the last meeting at San Diego, Michael Bush rushed for 157 yards and Palmer was 14 of 20 for 299 yards and two touchdowns.