When Derek Carr signed a three-year, $121.5 million contract extension with the Las Vegas Raiders last offseason, many in Raider Nation were quick to notice that the contract left very little in the way of a cap hit or dead money for the Raiders if Carr was not on the team in 2023. That essentially made 2022 a “prove-it” year for Carr, to show whether or not he could excel in Josh McDaniels’ offense. He did nothing of the sort and validated the opinions of many within the organization. It was the same people who had already turned against Carr before bringing in McDaniels and Dave Ziegler. This is going to be quite the NFL offseason for Carr and the Raiders.
NFL Offseason: What went wrong with the Raiders and Derek Carr at the end?
The Raiders benched Carr to ensure he didn’t get injured in the last part of the season. That was effectively done to avoid paying him his full guarantee of $40.4 million, but they also must pay him that amount if he is on the team past February 15, which is three days after the Super Bowl. Therefore, the Raiders will have to do their best to trade Carr as soon as the Super Bowl is over and before the February 15 deadline. Carr has a full no-trade clause, so he will have to sign off on any trade. There should be plenty of suitors for Carr, who, despite his inconsistency, would be a marked upgrade for many NFL teams.
The most recent trade involving top quarterbacks was when the Rams sent Jared Goff and two first-round picks to Detroit for Matthew Stafford. Unfortunately, the Raiders shouldn’t expect a haul like the Lions did. Nevertheless, if there is a bidding war for Carr’s services, one first-round pick might not be out of the question. So, who might pull the trigger on Carr?
Washington Commanders Desperately Need A Quarterback
On the surface, sending Carr to a team with the worst owner in all of sports and the worst stadium in the NFL seems a little vindictive. However, the Commanders have an excellent defense, a strong running game, and explosive receivers. They are held back from their potential entirely by subpar quarterback play. Carson Wentz is terrible, and Taylor Heinicke is gutsy but doesn’t have the talent to consistently win in the NFL. Ron Rivera is exactly the kind of old-school coach Carr would love, and vice versa.
The Commanders currently hold the 16th pick in the draft, and they don’t have a ton of needs outside of their secondary. This is a deep draft class for safeties and corners, so Washington might decide to swing for the fences with Carr.
Derek Could Help The Tennessee Titans Get Over The Hump
Like the Commanders, the Titans fail to play up to their potential because of their quarterbacks. Ryan Tannehill was uninspiring and then injured, and Malik Willis has flashed but is nowhere near ready to take over as the full-time starter. Tennessee turned to Josh Dobbs last week and predictably lost. They could really use a high-level quarterback so they don’t waste Derrick Henry’s entire career being mediocre.
The Titans hold pick No. 11 in the draft as of this writing, but they have needs at receiver and along the offensive line. They could offer a second-round pick, which would be close to Pick 40, and future picks as well.
Derek Carr Instantly Improves The New York Jets, Right?
If there’s one team whose season was most wasted by poor quarterback play, it’s the Jets. They were in prime playoff position by midseason, but then Zach Wilson got hurt, Mike White got hurt, and Wilson was also terrible. The Jets are an easy Wild Card team if they had a steady quarterback, even an unspectacular one, because their defense is quite good. I get the sense they’re ready to get rid of Wilson or fire him into outer space, so keeping Carr for a couple years makes a ton of sense for the Jets.
The Jets own the 13th pick currently and one pick in each of the first five rounds of the 2023 draft. They could put together a very attractive offer for Carr with either their first pick or multiple late rounders this NFL offseason.
Then there’s the Carolina Panthers…
The Panthers are in the midst of a full rebuild after trading away star running back Christian McCaffrey and firing coach Matt Rhule. While Sam Darnold has done some good things lately, it’s safe to say that with a new head coach coming in next year, the Panthers’ 2023 quarterback is not currently on the roster. The Panthers might take the route of drafting a developmental quarterback while also bringing in a veteran starter. Carr could fit that role nicely.
Could the Raiders fleece the Panthers?
Carolina has the ninth pick and also multiple picks in Rounds 2, 3, and 4 due to the McCaffrey trade. They could use any combination of those picks to make a play for Derek Carr. Now, it’s possible that Carr doesn’t agree to any trade and forces the Raiders to release him. He has that right and that ability. Even so, I suspect the teams listed above may all make a play for signing him as a free agent if they can’t swing a trade deal with Las Vegas first.
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