The Las Vegas Raiders are on a three-game losing streak. Amid a huge season for Derek Carr, Mike Mayock, and Co., the team is repeating their disastrous pattern. A hot start is being followed by another gut-wrenching collapse.
Another home loss, this time to the Cincinnati Bengals, leaves the Raiders with many questions to answer. A haul of first-round picks has generated little production. Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia seems to be in over his head. Mike Mayock has to right a reeling ship in the offseason, assuming he’s back in 2022. Also, it’s time to ask the question: should the Raiders move on from Derek Carr and take a shot at an elite quarterback?
Extending Derek Carr?
Carr is entering the final year of his contract in 2022 and will be eligible for unrestricted free agency the following year. The Raiders already had a big decision to make regarding the Fresno State product. An extension could cost the Raiders close to $35 million per year on average, for at least four years.
He’s easily the best quarterback the Raiders have had since Rich Gannon. He’s thrown for nearly 30,000 yards in his career and has a touchdown-interception ratio of 2:1. His prowess in the fourth quarter of games has been remarkable at times. Playing for the Raiders doesn’t make anything easy; he should be applauded for those accomplishments.
It’s a no-brainer to keep him around… right?
Looming over his long list of accolades are some serious blemishes. His career win-loss record is 52-67. He only led one playoff campaign. He leads the NFL in fumbles since entering the league in 2014, a painful stat pointed out by the reliable Josh Dubow of the Associated Press.
That's Derek Carr's 33rd career lost fumble for #Raiders, the most in the NFL since he entered league in 2014
— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) November 21, 2021
You can pass the blame around for the Raider’s struggles through his eight years. Some terrible teams contributed to that record, but Carr is not blameless. He continually fumbles, doesn’t always read the field, doesn’t always know how to use his athleticism, and has a reputation for being skittish in the pocket.
All of this adds up to a slightly-above-average quarterback. The hard truth the Raiders will need to accept is: slightly-above-average quarterbacks do not win Super Bowls. There are anomalies, like Joe Flacco winning a title a decade ago. However, since the league became quarterback-driven, you don’t have a chance without an elite passer.
It’s time for the Silver and Black to get serious about the quarterback position.
Get An Elite Quarterback
So it’s that easy, right? To just go get an elite quarterback? Of course not.
But you already know Carr’s ceiling. For as long as he plays in the league, you aren’t getting anything more or less than that. The only way to make the leap is by securing a great passer, either via trade or free agency.
Typically, great quarterbacks don’t hit free agency until they’re too old to elevate a franchise. Drafting a quarterback is the only way to get it done. The Raiders have been reluctant to spend capital on a starting quarterback, but the time is now.
Yes, the Raiders have other needs. No, drafting a quarterback does not lead to immediate success. However, when Carr first entered the league, there was a slew of elite quarterbacks to whom he aspired, such as Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers.
In 2021, there were fresh faces, and they bypassed him. Guys like Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, and Patrick Mahomes have taken over the league. Their teams are winning big. Who’s next? Justin Herbert? Joe Burrow? All of those players were high draft picks, and some of them cost teams draft picks to move up and select them.
So what’s the plan?
The Raiders won’t be picking in the top five of the 2022 NFL draft. With Carr under center, it’s unlikely that a top-five pick will roll around again post-rebuild. The only way to do it is by trading picks or players to get to the top. The Raiders should consider making the move and soon. Carr would be a great trade piece for a team that might want to collect extra picks and get a reliable passer in the building.
In return, the Raiders could have a shot at a real game-changer. It might just be the risk needed to shake up the franchise and renew their Commitment To Excellence.
*Top Photo: AP Photo/Isaac Brekken