weather icon Mostly Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Derek Carr’s future with Raiders could hinge on final 4 games

Updated December 15, 2022 - 6:03 pm

While the Raiders still have an outside chance of making the NFL playoffs, the final four games are just as much about the future as the present.

That means the fate of some players — most notably veteran quarterback Derek Carr — could be on the line.

Carr has dealt with nagging injuries this season — and a lot of the Raiders’ problems are out of his control — but when things go bad, the quarterback always shoulders a significant amount of the blame.

In Carr’s case, it has been an ongoing theme almost since the moment he was named the starting quarterback and became the face of a franchise that, outside of two winning seasons, has resided on the lower rung of the NFL during his nine years with the club.

As the losing mounted, so, too, did the speculation the Raiders would move on from him.

“I should have been traded for eight years now,” Carr said. “It is what it is.”

He has learned to tune it all out.

“As I’ve gotten older, it’s been definitely easier, because once you’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times,” Carr said. “I was supposed to be gone, like I said, eight years ago, and I’m still here.”

But for various reasons, this season feels different, and league sources have indicated it seems inevitable the Raiders will move on from Carr.

Carr signed a three-year, $121.5 million contract extension in March that essentially created a one-year prove-it scenario under first-year coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler. The two have no ties to Carr and made it clear when they were hired that their first year would include a significant amount of evaluation as they build the roster.

The extension includes an opt-out that the Raiders can exercise immediately after the Super Bowl, one that allows them to walk away from the remaining two years of the contract and $40 million in guarantees. The penalty they would pay is a manageable $5.6 million dead cap hit.

The alternative to cutting ties with Carr at that point? His 2023 salary and $7 million of his 2024 salary — in total, $40 million — become fully guaranteed Feb. 15.

The question the Raiders will ask themselves — and the final four games will go a long way toward formulating an answer — is whether that is an investment worth making. Or if moving on is the better option, even if it means starting over with a younger quarterback or turning to a veteran such as Tom Brady or Jimmy Garoppolo, both of whom have ties to McDaniels and Ziegler.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they would simply let Carr walk. A trade undoubtedly would be explored, and league sources indicate there would be enough time for the Raiders to potentially work one out in time to deal with the early February deadline to decide his future.

Carr, 31, has a no-trade clause, but that always has been viewed as his protection to control his landing spot. And with quarterback-needy teams such as the Saints, Colts, Commanders and Falcons, among others, motivated to improve at that position, it’s easy to envision a healthy market for Carr, who is 10th in the NFL in total quarterback rating and has led an offense that ranks 11th in scoring and eighth in yards per game.

The Raiders had high hopes for this season but are 5-8. And while Carr isn’t solely responsible for their underachieving performance, he could end up being the main casualty.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

Like and follow Vegas Nation