“Derek Carr Saga”
Here comes the NFL off season, and it will swirl around start quarterbacks moving to new teams.
You instantly think of legendary Packers QB-Aaron Rodgers, seemingly always unhappy. He has yet to decided whether he wants to remain in Green Bay or get a new lease on life.
Then there is Jim Garoppolo, coming off surgery, and ready to exit the San Francisco 49ers with no restrictions at all next month as a free agent.
But the first one on the open market could come in the next 24-hours, the Raiders divorce from quarterback Derek Carr, who was a bellwether of stability for a very unstable organization.
Hard to believe it is ending this way, and that the Raiders are not getting any form of draft pick compensation for an established starting quarterback.
Here’s a close up look at the background of this impending divorce between a respected QB and a continuing to struggle franchise run by Mark Davis and prior to that his controversial father, Al Davis.
The report from Pro Football.com:
With the Super Bowl in the rearview mirror, Derek Carr‘s guarantee vesting date is fast approaching. The Raiders do not plan to wait until the deadline. They will release their longtime starting quarterback Tuesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link).
The Raiders would have until 3pm CT Wednesday to find a Carr trade partner, but the veteran passer has already indicated he will not waive his no-trade clause. That leaves the Raiders with little choice here, given their actions to this point. They will cut Carr to avoid paying the $40.4MM guarantee.
This unique free agency derby will feature a few teams. The Saints, whom Albert Breer of SI.com notes are the only team to send the Raiders a Carr trade offer, will be one. The Jets are believed to view Carr as an Aaron Rodgers backup plan, while Rapoport notes the Panthers, Titans and perhaps others will be in the mix.
Tuesday’s transaction will not only end this unusual divorce and spur a fascinating pursuit — one that will put teams to decisions on going after Carr now or waiting for other options later — but it will also wrap the Raiders’ longest-running partnership with a starting quarterback. Although Ken Stablerwas a Raider longer than Carr, the Hall of Famer did not begin his run as a full-time starter until his sixth season (1973). The Raiders needed Carr from the jump, plugging him into the lineup in Week 1 of his rookie season. Carr ended up starting 142 games as a Raider, but the team stopped that streak abruptly with a benching ahead of its Week 17 game last season.
The Raiders, who will only be hit with $5.6MM in dead money by this release, gauged Carr’s fit in Josh McDaniels‘ offense via their three-year extension agreement. But that deal’s escape hatch — the Feb. 15 guarantee vesting date — will trigger Las Vegas’ quarterback search. Carr constantly landed in trade rumors under previous regimes, but the Raiders held onto him through the Jack Del Rio and Jon Gruden‘s stays. The Raiders did not have much luck at quarterback in the years immediately before taking Carr in the 2014 second round, with the Carson Palmer and JaMarcus Russell moves in particular costing the team dearly. But McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler will replace Carr this year.
Carr, 32 in March, could have been a potential chip at last year’s trade deadline, but The Athletic’s Vic Tafur notes (subscription required) the Raiders were not ready to pull the plug at that point. Even after a 24-0 loss to the Saints, the Raiders hoped Carr and McDaniels would mesh down the stretch. The 2-5 team stayed the course, but late in a season that saw Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow sidelined for extended stretches, the Silver and Black showed their cards with the benching. Davante Adams has said he remains committed to the Raiders, despite Carr driving him to seek out Vegas as a destination last year.
Carr and his wife trekked to New Orleans for a Raiders-approved visit — the only meeting the team permitted — and the summit lasted two days. Carr wanted to meet with every interested team, per Tafur, but the Raiders worried the 10th-year veteran would use those summits to work out a free agency agreement. Now, instead of Carr following the Matthew Stafford or Alex Smith winter trade paths, he will be a free agent. Connections to a host of teams are sure to follow.
The Raiders wanted a third-round pick. It is unclear if the Saints offered that, but they will have a chance to woo Carr on the market. New Orleans would need to backload a Carr contract, being nearly $60MM over the cap. While February cap gymnastics are old hat for GM Mickey Loomis, the Saints appear set to enter a competitive chase for a free agent quarterback for the first time since they signed Drew Brees in 2006. New Orleans, which waded deep into the Deshaun Watson trade sweepstakes last year, is unlikely to retain Jameis Winston and has not been aggressive in attempting to re-sign Andy Dalton. Carr appears the target, though he will be for other teams as well.
The Jets’ recent inquiry about Rodgers’ availability makes sense, with Carr about to hit the market. New York’s might be the most intriguing decision: go after Carr now or risk striking out on Rodgers. Jimmy Garoppolo also looms as a later potential Rodgers consolation prize — for both the Jets and Raiders — and the Titans’ involvement here points to Ryan Tannehill being available as well.
The Titans have used Tannehill as their primary starter for the past four seasons, and while the team promoted OC Tim Kelly, a Carr chase makes Tannehill’s Tennessee status tenuous. The Titans can save $27MM by designating Tannehill as a post-June 1 cut. A past restructure would make a standard Tannehill release more costly for the AFC South franchise. Even though the Titans kept Tannehill in the loop regarding Kelly’s hire, per Titans.com’s Jim Wyatt, one season remains on his contract.
Carolina has sought a long-term QB answer since cutting Cam Newton in 2020. But the Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield efforts fell short of expectations. Frank Reichwent through a few veterans in Indianapolis as well, which would make the Panthers diving back into the veteran market interesting. The Panthers hold the No. 9 overall pick, putting them in play for a quarterback pick or a trade-up maneuver. A Carr acquisition would presumably prevent either.