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McDaniels to consider benching underperforming Carr

Updated December 27, 2022 - 10:47 am

At a time when the Raiders need quarterback Derek Carr to play his best football, he’s playing his worst.

And while there are several reasons why Carr has thrown nine interceptions over his past five games and completed just 55 percent or fewer of his passes over his last four, there is no denying the fall-off.

Nor the role it’s played in the Raiders losing two out of their past three games to put their playoff hopes in severe distress.

“That’s not good enough, you know what I mean?” said Raiders coach Josh McDaniels. “And for us to be able to win this time of the year and be productive offensively, you have to throw the ball better than what we’ve thrown it at times here over the last month-and-a-half.”

When asked directly on Monday whether he would consider turning to backup Jarrett Stidham, McDaniels was non-committal.

“I think there’s a possibility that we would do the right thing, regardless of the position, in terms of the team,” McDaniels said.

Carr’s slide and the Raiders’ dire playoff predicament raise a question of whether the Raiders (6-9) should make a change at quarterback over the last two games to preserve their long-range options at the position.

The club faces a huge decision in mid-February whether to keep intact their relationship with Carr beyond the 2022 season or — and this is becoming more and more of a possibility — release or trade him to move on from the remainder of his contract without suffering a hefty financial blow.

Carr signed a 3-year, $121.5 million contract last offseason, but it includes an out at the end of this season in which the Raiders can move on while incurring just a $5.6 million dead cap hit.

There is no firm sense that the Raiders have made up their mind either way, although Carr’s recent play certainly has not helped his case.

Complicating matters is that Carr’s 2023 salary of $33 million and $7.5 million of his 2024 salary becomes guaranteed should he suffer a serious injury over the last two games. Is that a risk the Raiders should take?

McDaniels said there have been no discussions yet about how to handle Carr’s playing time. But he did say the club will take everything into account when making that decision.

That goes for a number of players, including those that are working their way back from injuries, such as Chandler Jones and Denzel Perryman, both of whom were hurt Saturday against the Steelers.

But almost certainly, Carr will fall into that category.

“I think there are a lot of things that are going to go into that bucket,” McDaniels said.

McDaniels went out of his way to spread the blame around to not single out Carr as the sole reason for the prolonged struggles. He mentioned the level of protection for Carr, the route running from receivers and the ability of everyone to be on the same page reading defensive coverages.

But football typically begins and ends with the play of the quarterback, and Carr has not been good enough recently.

“Everybody can do better, and I’m sure he’d be the first one to tell you he can do the same thing,” McDaniels said.

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

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