Derek Carr's short-lived journey through free agency has come to an end, as is set to sign a four-year, $150 million deal with the New Orleans Saints, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reports. The deal includes a whopping $100 million in total guarantees, making him the ninth-highest-paid player in the league averaging $37.5 million per season.
The signing marks a fresh start for the former Raiders quarterback, who hit free agency for the first time in his career after being released in February.
Carr has been one of the NFL's more polarizing quarterbacks in recent years. At times, he's played really well — even to the point of being an MVP candidate in the 2016 season. At other times (like in 2022), he's struggled. It's been a career of ups and downs for Carr, playing mostly very well — but never well enough to carry a team to a Super Bowl.
As a starter, Carr has a 63-79 overall record for a .443 win percentage — not stellar. There were some bright spots, however. Under the mentorship of former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, Carr seemed to be flourishing. He was productive as a passer, with notable increases in his completion rate, yards per attempt and NFL passer rating from 2018, onward.
That production in 2021 (and trip to the postseason) led the team to sign him to a three-year, $121 million contract extension... before it all came crashing down in 2022. The raiders went 6-9 in his final season with the team, having boasted just two total trips to the post-season with Carr as their starting quarterback. The Raiders knew it was time to move on.
Derek Carr to the Saints shouldn't be all that surprising for those who have followed along with the news this offseason. He'd taken a trip to New Orleans to meet with the team while he was still under contract with the Raiders and continued meetings with them (among other teams) while in Indianapolis during the combine.
News also dropped on Saturday, March 4 that the team had restructured several of their active contracts, a sign that they were making room for someone — and as ESPN analyst Matt Miller speculated, that someone was Derek Carr.
The Saints are a franchise in flux at the moment. Their quarterback situation has been up in the air since future Hall of Famer Drew Brees retired, and since then, the loss of long-time head coach Sean Payton. In recent years, their identity as a team has been kind of a question mark. Who are the Saints? What defines them? I honestly don't know.
I do think, however, that the signing of Derek Carr gives them some luxury to find out. Again, he's good enough. He can play well, which gives you the luxury to evaluate where the rest of your roster stands.
Questions remain about the availability of RB Alvin Kamara, who's facing felony battery charges stemming from a 2022 incident. It's also likely that WR Michael Thomas is on his way out (or maybe he's not now, with Derek Carr? TBD!). With all of those questions in mind, the 2023 NFL Draft will undoubtedly be big for this unit and for establishing their identity as a team under coach Dennis Allen.