The past 14 months have been quite the whirlwind for Derek Carr. The Raiders’ four-game winning streak to secure an AFC wild-card spot, the Jon Gruden controversy, and the Bengals’ dramatic playoff loss were all noteworthy events.
Following that, Josh McDaniels was hired by Las Vegas, the Raiders acquired Davante Adams through trade, and Carr agreed to a three-year agreement worth $121.5 million.
But with the Raiders dropping to 6-9 this year, Carr struggling — his emotions boiling over after a defeat to the Colts — and now being benched with two games left, it feels like ages ago.
For some players, that level of drama represents a career. What will Carr do next? This undoubtedly feels like a prelude to Carr moving during the summer.
After announcing on Wednesday that Jarrett Stidham would take over for Carr for the duration of the regular season, McDaniels remarked, “There’s a lot to be sorted through once the season is finished.
Even if Carr signed the extension, the Raiders wouldn’t face financial ruin if they decided to part ways with him — either by trading him (he does have a no-trade provision) or simply letting him go soon after the Super Bowl. By benching Carr right now, Vegas may be able to highlight his availability a little bit earlier, giving teams the chance to talk about the three-time Pro Bowler as a trade option before the tidal wave of offseason movers and shakers. The Raiders may simply cut bait with a reasonable dead-money penalty if no quality bids come through.
If Carr doesn’t ultimately decide to stay in Las Vegas, let’s try to look forward to the offseason, which will undoubtedly feature another round of musical chairs for quarterbacks, to determine where he might settle next.
You already know the situation: Mike White is once again the backup quarterback and Zach Wilson has been benched. White will soon be a free agent, though, so his return is not guaranteed. Other seasoned quarterbacks, including Jimmy Garoppolo, have been linked to the Jets, which makes sense. It’s a combination you really can’t overlook, especially if Carr is available and, more importantly, if the Raiders appear interested in Wilson. The Jets have some emerging weapons; all they need to do now is identify their long-term quarterback.
The QB outlook in New Orleans is now a little hazy because Andy Dalton has performed admirably since Jameis Winston suffered a back ailment. Dalton, however, will soon be a free agent, and Winston might be released. The Saints will need to go out and sign someone if Taysom Hill isn’t suddenly a starter contender (again), and they’ll have to do that with salary-cap constraints and without a first-round choice. A QB of Carr’s stature is more difficult to forecast as a strong possibility given their financial condition. However, New Orleans might be able to make it work if the Raiders decide to release Carr.
On the one hand, the Colts choosing a veteran quarterback would be expected given that they haven’t selected one with a Day 1 or Day 2 choice since Andrew Luck and have since filled the void left by Luck with veteran signings or trades. However, observe how well that has gone for them. The Colts will start their seventh different quarterback since Luck retired in 2023, assuming they add some fresh talent. On a risk scale, Carr would be somewhere between Carson Wentz and Philip Rivers, but they would probably need to make a trade offer to get him. Depending on the head coach for the upcoming season, Indianapolis may not appear to be the most desirable location from the outside.
Tom Brady is less likely to return to Tampa for the upcoming season. Either he will retire or move on to another team for another year. (Perhaps going all the way to Las Vegas to meet up with McDaniels.) Tampa Bay should be looking for assistance unless the Bucs believe Blaine Gabbert or Kyle Trask deserve to succeed Brady, which doesn’t seem likely. Although the Bucs’ extremely tight financial position makes this a difficult fit, even if Brady’s enormous contract were to come off the books, this team was constructed to win today with Brady in tow.
The plans for Daniel Jones, whose fifth-year option was not exercised before this season, have not been disclosed by the Giants. Jones has performed admirably in 2022, particularly in terms of ball security. Additionally, his completion rate has increased, and he has never before used his running skill as a weapon. The Giants could franchise tag Jones this offseason if they decide they are not ready to give up on a 25-year-old quarterback. If so, the Giants’ respectable record this year may prevent them from being in a position to select his replacement right away.
There are other links as well: David, Derek’s older brother, played for the Giants and has been quite complimentary of the team and its owners. Additionally, McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler know Giants head coach Brian Daboll from their time working together in New England.
After Matt Rhule was fired and Christian McCaffrey was traded, the Panthers came as a nice — and unexpected — surprise down the line, staying competitive under Steve Wilks in the dormant NFC South. Although the narrative has been entertaining, owner David Tepper and general manager Scott Fitterer can only ride it for so long given that the team’s likely starting quarterback won’t be on the roster (unless Sam Darnold is kept around to compete with a rookie next season, perhaps). Tepper obviously wants to make a statement at the position, so a player with Carr’s talent must be taken into account. The Panthers are now expected to have a top-10 pick, despite the fact that they are still in the running. Will Carolina pursue a draught strategy, a trade, or free agency?
Ryan Tannehill, who will turn 35 next summer, might not suit up for the Titans again this year or ever. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel may want to make some adjustments in light of Tannehill’s disappointing, injury-plagued 2022 season and playoff meltdown from the previous year. Malik Willis hasn’t yet demonstrated that he can start in 2023.
We don’t know if Todd Downing, the offensive coordinator, will remain in his position, but if he does, Carr and Downing have a strong working relationship from their time spent together with the Raiders. With Downing, Carr probably enjoyed his three finest seasons, but more so in 2015 and 2016 when he served as his QB coach rather than as Carr’s offensive coordinator (in 2017). Although Downing was not well-liked in Oakland as a play caller, he and Carr have publicly expressed their respect for one another.
The offensive future of New England is still somewhat uncertain. In other words, we don’t know who will be making play calls or distributing the ball next season. That makes this potential coupling more challenging. And would Bill Belichick be reluctant to pursue Carr if he couldn’t pass muster for McDaniels? We are unsure. Even if the Patriots’ defense did tighten up on Carr in the second half of their chaotic matchup a few weeks ago, Belichick has lauded Carr numerous times in the past. In this hypothetical transaction, Mac Jones would undoubtedly be the bright object. McDaniels, who helped Jones to a Pro Bowl season, is likely the best coach to revive Jones’ career if the Patriots decide they’ve run their course with him at the end of the season last year as a rookie in New England.
With a lot on the line, the Commanders have re-signed Carson Wentz as their starting quarterback for the final stretch. If he performs well, Wentz may be able to lock up a spot on the same team for consecutive seasons for the first time in three years. But if he fails miserably, may Washington reshuffle the quarterback position? Nothing can be ruled out for that franchise, which always seems to be in upheaval, especially since Wentz is a prime candidate to be released if he doesn’t perform up to expectations because of his contract, which has no guaranteed money left in it. Theoretically, Carr would be an improvement there, and he’d have some terrific young receivers to work with.
The Falcons are still contenders to chase veteran aid until disproven since Marcus Mariota is probably finished in Atlanta and Desmond Ridder is still vying for a chance to start in 2023. However, with all four NFC South teams potentially changing quarterbacks this summer, we can’t completely rule out the prospect of an arms race there. We tend to believe they’d choose a more affordable experienced option than Carr, perhaps Tannehill, who has familiarity with Arthur Smith.
Could Carr make a return? Yes, that is feasible. It’s possible that Las Vegas is resting Carr in order to prevent an injury late in the season from guaranteeing his $33 million pay for 2023. However, it’s possible that the Raiders will reconsider Carr’s value after they have a better understanding of the 2023 quarterback market and compare him to other possible selections.
Will a quarterback who has been vetted by McDaniels and Ziegler be available at Las Vegas’ high-selection pick? Tim Tebow was hand-selected in the second year of McDaniels’ stint with the Broncos, and he might follow the same path in Vegas this offseason.
Even so, the Raiders’ management may determine that the best course of action for the upcoming season is to retain Carr around as a bridge to the future. Even though it’s an unfair analogy, consider how the 49ers handled the situations between Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo; if they hadn’t kept Garoppolo, they might not now be Super Bowl candidates. If nothing else, the 49ers’ approach to the quarterback position offers a lesson.