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For Derek Carr, it’s play for the Raiders or no one else

Updated June 15, 2021 - 2:19 pm

Speaking to the media for the first time this offseason, quarterback Derek Carr said he’d rather “quit” than play for anyone other than the Raiders.

“There’s still more and I want to do it here,” Carr said when asked why he hasn’t joined the chorus of NFL quarterbacks publicly complaining about their situations this offseason. “I don’t want to do it anywhere else. I’ve said it over and over. I’d probably quit football if I had to play for somebody else.

“I am a Raider for my entire life. I’m going to root for one team for the rest of my life and that’s the Raiders. I just feel that so strong in my heart. I don’t need a perfect situation to make things right.”

Carr said it would just feel more special to win a championship with the organization that drafted him, especially after the adversity the organization has battled during his tenure.

“I just think personally that would be a better story for my life,” he said. “For other people, if they want to do other things, that’s great. I’d rather go down with the ship if I have to. That’s just my personality.”

After Carr spoke via zoom with the media, he gave an exclusive interview to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Here is the conversation edited for clarity and length:

Vincent Bonsignore: You are heading into the last two years of your contract. Are you interested in doing a contract extension, and at what point would you like to get something done?

Derek Carr: That’s something that I know coach Gruden and my agent and Mr. Mayock, they’ve had those discussions. … If they can get something done, and they can bring it to me, awesome. That would be awesome. But it’s such a non-issue and such a non-topic for me because my mind is fixed on winning a championship, and that’s it.

VB: Across all sports, more and more players are beginning to wield their power in order to dictate their futures. Has it ever crossed your mind to do something similar?

DC: I’d be lying to you if I said I haven’t had guys on other teams that have been on perennial Super Bowl-contending teams that have called. … I’ve probably had 20 conversations like that with multiple people on teams where they’re saying “come be our quarterback’’ and those kinds of things. But again, I don’t think this ship is going down, but if it does I’d rather go down with it. That’s just how I grew up.

This will be my eighth year here. The Raiders have been great to me. So I haven’t had any problems. … I want to win a championship, don’t get me wrong, I want to do that. I’ve already made money, I can go play golf the rest of my life if I want to. But that’s not what drives me. What drives me is holding up that Lombardi Trophy as the Raiders’ quarterback.

VB: You are now heading into Year Four with Jon Gruden, which might actually be a surprise to some people who predicted he’d go in a different direction at quarterback when he got hired. How is that relationship?

DC: What people don’t understand is how close we are. Not just football, but off the field. Whether it’s him texting videos of his dog and what they’re doing, and I’m sending him videos of my kids hitting baseballs in their first game. People don’t understand that. And we’re going on four years together … But we honestly care about one another. We love one another. We grind together. He pushes me. I push him. It’s a great relationship. And I told him, man, I don’t want to play for anybody else. I’m playing for you. This has been the most fun playing quarterback I’ve ever had.

VB: What are your thoughts on wide receiver Henry Ruggs as he heads into his second season?

DC: Man, he’s been impressive. The way he’s running routes. He’s being violent in his cuts. I think something clicked in his head. Just like with everybody, you play a season in the NFL, you go back and watch the tape and you’re like “Wow, I know what it takes now.” And you either do it or you don’t. And he’s showing already that he said,”Nah, I’m going to do it.” And it’s been so impressive.

Even what he did last year, with no OTAs, was impressive. Maybe he didn’t have a breakout season, a thousand-yard season or anything like that. But things he did for us in certain moments, it was impressive. So now he knows the offense, he knows the quarterback, he knows who’s around him, all those things. He’s working with me after practice. I’m very excited for Henry. Now he’s gotta go do it.

VB: You talked about how important it was last year to convert that last-second two-point conversion to beat the Broncos in the season’s last game, especially after failing in that same situation the year before, and how it could set the stage coming into this year. Has that carried over?

DC: Did we finish the season the way we wanted last year? No. But we still held onto that word all the way to that last two-point play. The same exact area of the field as the year before, the same exact window of a throw from the year before. Probably even a tighter window of a throw. And Darren Waller makes the catch, we score and win the game.

If you look at that and say ‘They’re not getting better,’ then you’re blind. If you watch what we did last year and say “They’re not getting better,” well, then you’re just angry. We are getting better. We are finishing better. But now there’s a certain level of championship effort we have to get to. There’s a certain level of championship finishing we need to get to. And if we can do that, I’m telling you, the sky is the limit for us. I believe it with everything in me.

VB: The Raiders made some surprising moves on the offensive line by trading veterans like center Rodney Hudson and guard Gabe Jackson. In their place are young guys like Andre James and Alex Leatherwood. Your thoughts on those changes?

DC: The guys that are stepping into these roles, you see them on the practice field and you’re like “Ah, yeah, we’re going to be alright.” I’ll say it this way: Andre isn’t Rodney, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a good football player. It doesn’t mean he can’t be one of the best. We don’t know. But Andre is a good football player.

Anyone who isn’t Gabe Jackson, they’re not Gabe Jackson. He’s gone. OK, someone new has to take his spot. Can he play better? Can he be a better fit? We’ll see. I love the guys who left, but I love the guys who are here.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore onTwitter.

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