Derek Carr is not a great NFL quarterback. He's a good enough quarterback. It seems the Las Vegas Raiders are finally coming around to that idea, too, as news broke ahead of Week 17 that he would be benched rest-of-season in favor of backup QB Jarrett Stidham.
It feels like a surprise considering the Raiders haven't yet been eliminated from playoff contention. It shouldn't be, however, if we consider Carr's contract situation, which gave this team the final nudge to send him to the bench.
It's no secret Carr's had a brutal season. He leads the NFL with 14 interceptions, ranks 35th in NFL passer rating, and his 60.8 completion rate is just a tick better than that of Russell Wilson, whose struggles this year have been more than well-documented.
The play isn't the biggest problem the team has with him, though. The biggest problem is his contract — specifically, the guarantees in place for injury. Carr is healthy right now, and if the team were to move on from Carr either via release or trade in the offseason, they can escape with over $29 million in saved cap space. However, he's guaranteed $33 million in 2023 in the case of injury.
By benching a healthy Carr, this team has now given themselves the option of cashing in on on insurance policy that feels all but crucial to the future of the franchise.
Carr signed a three-year, $121.5 million contract extension with the team back in April that has him under lock through the 2025 season. Luckily, the Raiders found their out just before the big bucks kicked in. His $40.5 million average is good for the seventh-highest among NFL quarterbacks.
Backup Jarrett Stidham will officially register his first career start in Week 17... unfortunately against the San Francisco 49ers — AKA the league's most terrifying defense. Best of luck, Jar!