I've been... kind of critical of Derek Carr in my time as an NFL fan. To those familiar with my previous work, that probably doesn't come as a surprise. He's been a standup guy throughout his career, really. He's played well, to the point where he was just about a sneeze away from winning NFL MVP in 2016.
Still, there's something to be said for a franchise quarterback who's really good, but never great enough to carry a team to a championship. That's always what Derek Carr has been. The Raiders knew that, too, when they signed him to a three-year, $121 million extension last spring.
That’s why it felt all the more disrespectful when the team moved to bench him for “offensive performance issues” in the final two games of the 2022 season. At least, the offensive issues were part of the reason.
The other reason for his benching stems back to his contract, which would have guaranteed him $33 million in case of injury. Keeping Carr healthy allowed them to save a boatload of money — point for the Raiders.
It was in that moment that we first had the feeling Carr had played his last game in black and silver. What power did the Raiders really have in this situation, though? They owed Carr quite a bit of money that they no longer wanted to pay him. Trading him could have been an option, but his no-trade clause mandates that he would have to agree to the team he was being dealt with. Point for Carr.
The team unsurprisingly gave him permission to visit other teams, praying they could strike a deal with a team prior to February 15, when his $33 million became officially guaranteed for the 2023 season. Those visits came and went, though, and all hopes of unloading Carr’s contract on another team while reaping a draft pick as the cherry on top we’re lost. Another point for Carr. Match point!
It feels like a blah situation. We’re talking about a man who's brought the Raiders plenty of wonderful moments over the last nine years, and he didn't deserve to be treated like this by the very team that made him the face of the franchise. That’s yuck, for sure. What I’m here to celebrate, however, is how Derek Carr clapped back.
The NFL is a tricky and fickle business. Unfortunately, any leverage to be had in player-team relations often lies with the franchise. So, good on Derek Carr, a player who came out on top. Good on him for saying no. He effectively said, “Pay me or cut me.” And so they did.
Now, Carr becomes a free agent for the first time in his career. He’s free to negotiate a new contract with any team he desires, meaning, quite plainly, he gets to play this however he wants. There are several teams in need of a shiny new(ish) quarterback, so it stands to reason he’ll find a new home as a starter soon.
Teams with the biggest needs at quarterback include: Jets, Texans, Panthers, Cardinals (post-Kyler Murray torn ACL, just in case!), Packers (barring the outcome of Aaron Rodgers’ dark room challenge), Colts
My vote: It’s not the sexiest pick, but I’d most like to see Carr with the Jets. Rumors have strongly leaned toward Rodgers being traded to the Jets, but if they don’t get the deal done, we know Carr’s a capable passer in the right scheme, with the right weapons.