In what has become an annual narrative during the NFL offseason, speculation around the future of Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is chaotic as ever. Rumors of Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson trades fuel passionate arguments among Raider Nation.
This year is a little different though. Carr is approaching the end of his 2017 extension. The deal runs through 2022 and if Carr does not sign an extension, he will become an unrestricted free agent. His current rate is affordable: $19.5M in 2021 and $19.7M in 2022.
He is the 12th highest-paid quarterback in the league under his current deal. The question on everyone’s mind: will the Raiders extend Carr before he hits the open market in 2023?
Extending Carr’s deal
There are some good reasons to think about re-signing Carr if you’re the Raiders.
Carr wants to play for the Las Vegas Raiders
First, Derek actually wants to play for the Raiders. While Jon Gruden is an attractive draw to the franchise, the Raiders haven’t actually won anything of substance in nearly 20 years.
A franchise mired in mediocrity isn’t well-equipped to bring in premier talent. Drafting well or over-paying for free agents seems to be the recipe. Carr said he would retire a Raider. That kind of loyalty would make a friend out of Al Davis himself.
He has shown to have command over Gruden’s system now. Gruden’s a known collector of veteran signal-callers but Carr at age 30, is now the kind of veteran that Chucky reveres. Carr played very well in 2020 by most standards, he isn’t just treading water out there.
Quarterback deals are cheaper now
It’s a race to the top for quarterback deals in the NFL. Every year a new contract shatters the market valuation of signal-callers. In March, Dak Prescott signed a lucrative deal: four years and $160M with the Cowboys. A whopping $40 million a year, and he was injured for most of 2020.
His deal surpassed Deshaun Watson’s most recent deal – a $39 million average. Quarterbacks are getting paid and they’re getting paid fast.
The market will continue to swell, so why not sign your guy now? If you’re certain he can sustain success, lock him into an extension before prices skyrocket. Waiting just a year could see an additional $5 million or more per year added to the contract.
On top of that, waiting until he hits free agency in 2023 will drive the price higher as teams will look to compete. A franchise like the Washington Football Team would love to make an offer Carr couldn’t refuse. Money talks.
Letting Carr walk
It seems like common sense to lock down the franchise quarterback. Beat the market and maintain continuity? Sounds like a great deal.
Hold the phone.
There is a legitimate case for cutting bait with ‘4’ and opting for a draft prospect. Carr is currently 30 years old. By the time 2023 rolls around, assuming he signs an extension, he will be 32 years old. Let’s say his deal is five years. That would make him a Raider through age 37 and probably retirement.
Tom Brady is an anomaly in his 40’s. This extension would effectively be a retirement deal.
Do the Raiders want to pin their playoff hopes on Carr for the rest of his career? Say what you will about “QB Wins” but he boasts a 47-63 career record. That includes his stellar 12-3 season in 2016 as the starter.
Take out that year? 35-60.
The Raiders simply need to make the playoffs in 2021. The sleek new stadium, the bright lights of Vegas, the (old) new coach on a 10-year deal. Muddling around 8-9 wins won’t be enough forever. Raider Nation is getting anxious; they’re hungry for the winning tradition of old. Drafting a replacement in 2022 for Carr to groom might not be the worst idea in the world.
Just Win, Baby
So what will the Raiders do? I think we all know the answer.
The looming extension for Carr depends on one thing: A playoff berth.
Yes, the Raiders made the playoffs in 2016. Getting eliminated by Brock Osweiler isn’t anyone’s idea of a successful season. The Raiders need meaningful playoff games, and they need Carr to take them there. If he can turn around this year and secure a 12+ win season en route to the playoffs? Hello, new money.
If the Raiders do not make the playoffs, look for sweeping changes. It’s probably that simple. We have never seen Carr in a playoff game and it’s dampening his legacy. It won’t even be a requirement to win a Super Bowl before 2022. A home playoff game at the Death Star would cement Carr’s standing with the team.
No more sub .500 seasons. If the Raiders extended Carr in 2022 it will be because he went toe-to-toe with a contender in the tournament. If 2020 repeats itself and the Raiders collapse, sayonara Derek Carr.
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