The rumors about the Raiders moving on from quarterback, Derek Carr, are nothing new. They started after his disappointing 2017 season, when the infamous quarterback collector, Jon Gruden came to town. Every off-season that Gruden spent with the Raiders, it was a foregone conclusion that the Raiders were targeting a quarterback in the off-season to replace Carr, and yet, every September, number four lined up under center. This year feels different. Maybe it’s the team’s catastrophic inability to hold on to a lead, maybe it’s new head coach, Josh McDaniels, and maybe it’s just the cruel passage of time, taking no prisoners. But this season, even Carr’s staunchest media supporters have started speculating about the end.
If the Las Vegas Raiders move on from Derek Carr, when will it happen? How will it happen? Where could he go? And how will it impact the future of the Raiders.
Departing Derek: How Replacing This Raider Could Get Interesting
I’ve long stated that a divorce between Carr and the Raiders could be mutually beneficial. Derek Carr is a very good quarterback, but he’s proven that he’s not Atlas, and he can’t carry the weight alone. The Raiders have struggled to built a complete team, and Carr simply isn’t good enough to elevate them into the status of contendership. Moving on from Carr gives the Raiders a chance to get a guy that might, and if not, a much-needed full reset. As for Carr, he may end up on a squad that can support him adequately. He may end up on a team that is “a quarterback away” and finally get that elusive championship.
But it’s not as simple as meeting at a diner for coffee and saying “this isn’t working out.” There are financial and contractual obligations that need to be discussed first. Not only is Derek Carr technically contracted to the Raiders for three more years with $141 million on the line, but he has a no-trade clause in his contract. Now, that doesn’t mean that Derek Carr cannot be traded, quite the opposite, it just means that he has to agree to waive the clause before the trade. This gives Carr the opportunity to more-or-less pick his next team. With the sheer value of his position, there would undoubtably be many suitors willing to reward the Raiders handsomely for a player that is perceived as a franchise quarterback.
The other interesting wrinkle is that the Raiders have a team option after this season. They can release Carr with very little dead cap and call it a day. In all reality, it creates a pretty fair environment where neither side is trapped.
For the Raiders
Ideally, when you’re trading a good player, and spare me the rhetoric, while he’s never been elite, Carr is a good player, you’re trading him outside the conference. The last thing you want to do is give a potential playoff opponent the missing piece to make a run at a title. The New York Jets look like they might be a quarterback away and they’ve got no shortage of draft capital, but it’s humiliating to lose the revenge game with the playoffs on the line.
They could probably get a late first or early second round pick for Carr, and there’s no shortage of NFC teams that need a quarterback. With Tom Brady’s assumed departure, the entire NFC South will need a quarterback, the Washington Commanders and New York Giants are struggling to find consistency under center, Jared Goff is holding the Detroit Lions back, Aaron Rodgers might flee to Jeopardy and leave the Green Bay Packers with Jordan Love, and who knows if Matthew Stafford will be back for the Los Angeles Rams. Depending on what the Raiders hope to do about replacing Carr, there will certainly be options in the National Football Conference for trade partners.
For the Quarterback
Frankly, if you’re Derek Carr’s agent and you have any common sense, you don’t waive the trade clause. The market for free agent quarterbacks is pretty good, and if the Raiders intend to move on, he’s perfectly within his right to just stay put and force them to cut him. Sure, he risks not being able to get a contract that pays about $40 million a year, but he also creates the opportunity to play wherever he wants. It’s no secret that he grew up a fan of the Houston Texans, and that’s a franchise that desperately needs a quarterback. The freedom to truly negotiate his own terms might be attractive, and frankly, he doesn’t owe the Raiders the draft compensation.
This is ultimately what I believe will happen if the Raiders decide to move on. Even with a shaky year, Derek Carr has still proven to have the arm to make all the throws, the athleticism to scramble on occasion, and one of the league’s better efficiency rates. Matthew Stafford, like Carr, was a “good stats, no ring” guy in Detroit, and was actually older than Carr when he went to Los Angeles to win a Super Bowl. On the open market, I’m sure he could drum up enough interest to make something comparable to what the Raiders intended to pay him.
Ultimately, it’s kinda sad. Regardless of when or how Derek Carr leaves the Las Vegas Raiders, he will do so as the franchise’s all-time leading passer. Only four men, including running backs Marcus Allen and Pete Banaszak and punters Shane Lechler and Ray Guy, have played in more games for the Raiders than Carr. But tragically, partially due in part to his own shortcomings, but overwhelmingly as a result of poor coaching and roster-development, he’ll do so with fewer wins than Kenny Stabler and nearly twice as many losses, with one playoff start to show for it. The NFL’s Carmelo Anthony will hope to fulfill his Championship dreams on another team.