Las Vegas is likely to turn to that old “Cash for Clunkers” program. You remember that one? The government’s answer to the 2008 recession is to spark auto sales. Turn in your still-running old car for up to $4,500 in stone-cold cash. The Las Vegas Raiders surely have a “still-running Carr” on their hands that they’d like to turn into revenue, be it draft compensation or perhaps a player.
Such is the result of the Silver and Black deciding to bench quarterback Derek Carr, who in turn got permission to be away from the team to avoid distractions, with two games left. Out is DC4, and in comes the Jarrett Stidham Experience.
“And had a good conversation with the quarterbacks this morning, so we’re going to go ahead and start Jarrett (Stidham) the last couple games of the season here,” Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels said during his Thursday press conference. “None of us are happy with where we’re at, but we think it’s an opportunity to evaluate a younger player who hasn’t had much time to play.”
Forgive McDaniels if he looked awkward and uncomfortable at the podium Thursday. He spoke like a man who had to carry out orders from the top. According to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur, the decision to park the Carr came from owner Mark Davis, who soured on the quarterback a while ago.
Here comes the kicker with regard to Derek Carr
But here’s the thing about Carr: He has pocket aces in his hands, thanks to a built-in no-trade clause in the extension he signed this offseason. Before I go further, I must admit that some people did point out that the extension wasn’t really long-term security but a one-year rental with an out.
If Las Vegas were to seek a trading partner, Carr needs to greenlight the move or no dice. He, like El Presidente, has veto power. Or, Carr could stick to his word and retire, something he’s said a number of times, noting he doesn’t foresee himself wearing any other uniform. In either case, the Raiders don’t get squat.
Well, that’s not entirely accurate. If Carr is traded, retires, or is straight up released, the Raiders take a cap hit of under $6 million but get significant cap savings to spend money elsewhere.
“Yeah, like I said, we’re all accountable, and it starts with me,” McDaniels said when asked if Carr’s nosedive in effectiveness played a part in the decision to sit him. “He’s the first one to stand up there and say that. He’s been accountable all year, and I know he’ll continue to do that. That’s the kind of person and teammate he is. So, I don’t think anybody feels like we’ve done enough. Offensively, certainly, in a couple of these games we couldn’t put enough points on the board to win. So, I don’t think anybody is really happy with what we’ve done.”
Ah, the “starts with me” line. It’s akin to Carr’s patented “it’s on me” line during postgame pressers after defeat after defeat. But it’s a slippery slope, but probably not in the way you think. When anyone puts it on Carr, he’s still given absolution by a certain sect of Raider Nation.
The man at the top is ruthless…
In this case, however, he was not given any leeway by the person whose decision truly matters: the owner. The Bowl Cut Kid is a cutthroat dude, even though he doesn’t look like it. After all, Davis was the one who sent out Jack Del Rio to announce his own firing in a season-ending press conference. That’s some venomous hating right there.
Folk will lament Carr not getting to finish out his 2022 campaign (and likely final season as a Raider) in a proper fashion. But the financial ramifications of letting Carr trot out against a superior San Francisco 49ers defense and then the AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs were just too much of a risk. The Raiders didn’t want to be on the hook for $40 million in cash if Carr got hurt. Instead, they are doing Carr a favor by allowing him to be away from the team in the final two games.
“Those aren’t easy conversations, but that’s the nature of the position,” McDaniels noted. “So again, like I said, I couldn’t be more complimentary of him for the way he handled it. I mean, this is an A1-class human being, and he’s obviously meant a lot to this place for a long time. And as I said, we’ll see how this goes going forward. I’m not going to sit here and predict the future. There’s a lot that could happen, and we’re going to take those things one day at a time, and right now we’re going to get ready for the 49ers.”
Where I come out of the Raiders’ decision on Carr…
I offer no absolution. The organization and Carr were all part of what went down Thursday. The constant turnover surely didn’t help Carr throughout his career, as the organization isn’t the paragon of stability. Yet, the same organization gave him his best friend and most storied receiving target in Davante Adams, and Carr couldn’t generate much-needed second-half points for much of this season.
Kudos to Carr for what he did for the Raiders. His tenure in Silver and Black would’ve folded other signal callers, but he stuck through it. I’ll stop short of saying he gave it his all. The reason for this was that he was gifted athletically but did not put it to good use. He should have had way more career rushing yards with his speed, but he played the game like he ran a 10-second flat 40 and was a Drew Bledsoe statue too often.
Davis is putting this on McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler in 2023 and beyond.Â Carr takes the fall for this disheartening season. There’s a caveat here, though. Going forward, McDaniels and Ziegler must right the ship, or they’ll be on the outs too. Unlike DC4, though, McD and Ziegs could go back to their Patriot roots as a fallback.
*Top Photo: Raiders Official YouTube Channel