After eight seasons and two different cities with the Las Vegas Raiders, quarterback Derek Carr will be packing his bags this off-season. The writing was on the wall when Head Coach Josh McDaniels benched the signal caller for the final two games of the 2022 campaign.
— Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) January 12, 2023
Las Vegas finished 6-11 on the year and they displayed almost no signs of ever being a contender. For his part, Carr threw for over 3,500 yards in 15 games. He also tossed 24 touchdowns, albeit with 14 interceptions. Additionally, the veteran had started 91 straight games for the franchise by the time the team sat him down.
McDaniels said that he held out the longtime quarterback because of “offensive performance reasons.” And that’s certainly justified. Derek Carr has long been considered an underachiever: He’s thrown for over 35,000 yards in his career, yet has a postseason record of just 0-1.
However, another huge factor in the decision was money. What if Carr would have gone down with a meaningless, late-season injury? It would have triggered guarantees for his 2023 salary ($33 million) and an additional $7.5 million of his 2024 salary.
Four Potential Landing Spots for Derek Carr
Now, the 31-year-old is going to have a change of address next season. Many scouts and observers have stated that he still might be a top-10 talent in terms of NFL quarterbacks, and he’s got plenty of experience. So, he should look for a destination where he can win right away.
Here are four potential landing spots that would be suitable for a resurgence of Derek Carr.
#4 – He could be the toast of the town on Broadway
The Big Apple has been a frequently mentioned destination for the beleaguered quarterback. The Jets haven’t been able to find the answer under center, despite having plenty of talent to be a postseason threat.
The Jets (7-10) finished in last place in a strong AFC East Division. They invested heavily in the quarterback position when they drafted Zach Wilson out of BYU with the number two overall pick in 2021. However, he’s been riddled with inconsistency and minor injuries, and he actually found himself as the third-stringer late in the season. At least for now…Wilson is NOT the answer.
Neither is Joe Flacco or Mike White, both of whom leapfrogged Wilson on the depth chart. The bottom line is that this team has wholly underachieved and Carr could be the man to take them to other levels.
In many ways, this seems like a great ‘Meet Me in New York’ situation for the former Raiders quarterback. If he leads the Jets to the playoffs, he would be the toast of the town.
#3 – He could ride into the postseason with the Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have had a virtual revolving door at the quarterback position, and that continued in 2022. After having Andrew Luck, Carson Wentz, and Matt Ryan under center for the past few years, the offense has never really developed any chemistry. Carr could prove a lot by traveling to Indy and being the one who brings all the pieces together.
As mentioned previously, Carr has only appeared in one playoff game, despite a reputation as a ‘gunslinger’ among NFL circles. He could almost rewrite the story of his career if he could assume the role of the Colts’ franchise leader. Postseason runs in the midwest would certainly add to Carr’s legacy.
Coming off a 2022 season that saw them finish at 4-12-1, the team will select fourth overall – at least for now. However, there are whispers that they may be in the market to move up to number two in order to take one of the top quarterbacks.
So for the Colts? They could legitimately get some of Carr’s remaining prime years out of him while they groom his eventual successor.
#2 – He could re-ignite his career in Hotlanta
The Falcons situation is a mess after Marcus Mariota (2,219 yards, 15 touchdowns, 9 interceptions) has once again deflated as an NFL starter. After a handful of stops around the league, it appears this former Heisman Trophy winner is going to settle for backup status or an exit from the league soon.
It would only make sense for the man that Mariota used to be the backup for in Las Vegas, Derek Carr, to sign with Atlanta and assume the role there. The team has sputtered out of contention in recent years. As a franchise, it almost feels as if they’ve never psychologically recovered from the amazing comeback that the Patriots unleashed on them in the Super Bowl just a few years ago.
However, time heals all wounds, and winning solves everything. The Falcons (7-10) technically only finished one game back in the woeful NFC South. So, they can win right away. But none of the gaggle of play callers they currently have are game-changers. Mariota and Desmond Ridder weren’t the answer
#1 – Derek Carr could command Washington in 2023
The Washington franchise has had a bit of an identity crisis over the past few years – and that’s got nothing to do with their news-worthy name change. Part of their problem is they can’t identify a captain under the helm. A true leader. Derek Carr could change that right away.
Yes, the Commanders have brought in veterans in the past, but not quite of the level of talent as the former Raider. Carr has all the physical tools to be a star in this league, given the right weapons around him. And with the chance that he could still have five or six productive seasons, the nation’s capital might not be a bad place for him to finish things out. If anything, they have never been shy about signing pieces to try and make a postseason push.
This could be a win-win for both parties. One is a team searching for an offensive leader and identity. And the other, a player that desperately needs a home and the opportunity to prove that his toughness matches his talent.
After an 8-8-1 season in 2022, it wouldn’t take much to tip this team toward the promised land of the playoffs. An outstanding performance by a resurgent Carr would go a long way in advancing that goal.
‘…has a postseason record of just 0-1.’ It’s pure guess work what might have happened had he not had a late season injury in 2016. Setting that aside, Carr can hardly be held responsible for the woeful Raiders defense during his tenure. The old adage is very true: offense wins games, defense wins championships.