The Las Vegas Raiders have a new brain trust in place, having lifted new head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager, Dave Ziegler, from the decorated and glittering tree of success in New England. During their introductory press conference, they immediately had to address their plans for Derek Carr.
Speculation is swirling around Carr as he heads into the final season of his contract about whether he should receive an extension or possibly be traded. This decision could dramatically shift NFL odds heading into next season.
But the Raiders are coming off a 10-7 season, though, and have nothing to be ashamed of after losing in a valiant effort to the eventual AFC Champions in the Wild Card round.
So, is trading Derek Carr this offseason a correct path to success in the near term and overall?
We say no.
Why the Raiders Should Not Trade Derek Carr: The Breakdown
The Right QB Is On the Roster Now
The new coach and general manager are likely looking to build on a promising season, and the best way to do that would be to keep Carr rather than move him. Yes, Carr is 57-70 overall and has played in one postseason game in his NFL career. But is getting rid of him really the key to future success?
Many Raider fans want better after seeing Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford win three postseason games this year, which is as many as the Silver and Black have won in the last two decades. Raiders fans know, however, that Carr has played on many teams that have been highly flawed around him.
Moving on from Carr will not be the answer to any potential improvements or steps forward from the playoff season of 2021. Instead, fortifying the team around him will lead to more success in 2022 and beyond.
There are so many teams in the NFL that are searching for a good quarterback, and many of them fail to find an answer at the position every season. The Raiders already have one, so subtraction there could be a misstep.
The Raiders can only effectively replace Carr if they find another QB who is an established or potential star. Unless Las Vegas can step ahead of Denver to acquire Aaron Rodgers or the Seahawks make the unlikely move to deal Russell Wilson, there aren’t any available options that would seem to be a significant upgrade to Carr.
The Available QBs Fall Far Short of Derek Carr
The 2022 NFL draft class is considered to be a very weak one. Trading Carr for a draft choice, even in the Top 10, could set the franchise back from the marker that they reached by qualifying for the playoffs in 2021. Las Vegas could also be put into a position where they are looking to fill a QB hole for years to come.
The free-agent class of quarterbacks is mediocre. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, and Teddy Bridgewater certainly do not qualify as upgrades over Carr. Fitzpatrick might be at times, but he has never led a team to the NFL playoffs and is completely unpredictable. Mitchell Trubisky and the familiar Marcus Mariota are already proven NFL busts.
In the trade market, Jimmy Garoppolo could look like a minor upgrade based on his 33-14 career record, but Carr has been a much better passer throughout his career. Likewise, a deal for Kirk Cousins would not make sense because of his salary, and he has only one career playoff win.
The Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles seem to be two teams that could be in the market to improve at quarterback. Carr, on the other hand, may not be viewed as a significant upgrade over Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts in the future by either franchise.
Move Forward With Carr, Not Without Him
The Raiders are simply not in the position of a team like the 49ers, who can trade Garoppolo to a QB-hungry team like the Steelers or Panthers and elevate their QB of the future to the starting spot. The best route for Las Vegas is to move forward with a quality quarterback in-house, which many teams in the league just don’t have.
Carr has a losing career record and has never won a playoff game. Stafford has a losing career record, though, and did not make a deep postseason run until he played with a better team around him.
With Ziegler and McDaniels at the helm, the Raiders can extend Carr and build around him in a manner that has not been done previously. Carr deserves to win while wearing Silver and Black. He has emphatically said that is his desire, and unlike Stafford, he should not have to go elsewhere to do so.
The Raiders may have enough salary-cap space to add another wide receiver to Carr’s passing game, but there will also be needs on the offensive line to address. Las Vegas has all three of their first-round picks in the 2022 NFL draft, where they can also address the immediate needs of helping Carr.
A New Winning Environment in Las Vegas
A gut reaction from many observers when a team does not win consistently is to replace the signal-caller. But for the Raiders, that is not the answer. They won’t find a better option elsewhere, and trading Carr could help another team more than the Raiders.
Ziegler and McDaniels now have the authority to continue to change the franchise’s culture and identify the right on-field personnel to make sure the Raiders re-emerge as a contender. They came from the most successful organization in the NFL and will make a new imprint on the Raiders that can impact every part of the roster.
In 2021, Carr passed for a career-high and franchise-record 4,804 yards. That was without a star wide receiver and in a disappointing season for Darren Waller. He will be 31 when the 2022 season opens, which is certainly not “old” for a quarterback.
Better days may be ahead for the Raiders with new decision-makers in place. They will likely see that it makes the most sense to keep Carr and improve the environment around him.
*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images