Derek Carr’s Benching Means The Las Vegas Raiders Will Finally Move On From Veteran QB

Derek Carr’s Benching Means The Las Vegas Raiders Will Finally Move On From Veteran QB

It looks like the Las Vegas Raiders are finally moving on from their franchise quarterback.

like NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported before the team’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, Carr will play the remaining two games of the season, with career quarterback Jarrett Stidham finishing the season as the starter. The bench has nothing to do with any actual injury — it has everything to do with preserving Carr’s value entering the offseason.

The Raiders are clearly at a crossroads with their franchise as they explore which direction they are going. At 6-9, Las Vegas is technically still in the AFC playoff race, but it would take a miracle for them to get in. The fact that they are cutting their star quarterback when they are mathematically still alive in the playoff race says all you need to know.

It’s clear the franchise is moving in a different direction as they look to keep their 31-year-old quarterback healthy.

Although Carr signed a three-year, $121.5 million contract extension last offseason, he can be terminated within three days of the Super Bowl for a paltry salary of $5.625 million. As noted by ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez, his $32.9 million salary for next year and $7.5 million of his 2024 salary would be guaranteed if he were to get hurt. In other words, the Raiders are holding Carr for the final two games of the season in order to move him.

The move isn’t exactly surprising. The Raiders have given Carr nine years to “revive” the franchise. And while many of Las Vegas’ shortcomings are down to the organization itself — prior to Carr’s arrival in 2014, they had suffered through 11 straight losing seasons — there’s no question Carr has struggled heading into the 2022 season. Making matters worse it’s the fact that Carr has struggled despite adding the league’s best receiver in Davante Adams.

The reunion of Carr and Adams — college teammates at Fresno State — was supposed to lead to the Raiders’ emergence as a contender in Josh McDaniels’ first season as head coach. Instead, the Raiders have produced a mediocre record after numerous blips throughout the season.

And while defense is a big reason for that – they are allowing 23.3 points per game, ranking in the NFL – Carr has struggled drastically this season. The veteran quarterback leads the league with 14 interceptions and ranks 25thth of 33 qualified passers, according to Pro Football Reference.

While Carr has been up and down most of his career, he remains one of the most intriguing quarterbacks in the league. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback once finished third in MVP voting during the 2016 season and his career averages — as Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd points out — puts many of his rivals to shame.

“Take away Derek Carr’s rookie season (most overworked and struggling QBs) and his career averages – 25 TD 11 INT, 4,000 yards, 93.8 passer rating, 65 completion percentage,” Cowherd said. “Most years are about a coaching change or an impending coaching change. Yeah, I think he would help the Jets.”

There will be no shortage of trade options for Carr, especially when you consider that his average annual salary of $40 million over the next three seasons isn’t exactly outstanding, ranking seventh among current quarterbacks.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Commanders, Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans are among the top possible options for Carr.

It’s unclear who the Raiders’ next franchise quarterback will be, but it’s not like they’ll be short on options either. Tom Brady has often been linked to the Raiders because of his relationship with former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Las Vegas could also target veteran free agents like Jimmy Garoppolo and Geno Smith.

The Raiders’ failures in recent years are an organizational problem, not Carr’s. But it’s also become clear that Las Vegas — even after giving Carr all the necessary pieces — isn’t going anywhere with him as their franchise quarterback.

The move by Carr is likely to be met with a mixed reception. But it’s a necessary move as the Raiders try to build an annual playoff contender during the McDaniels era.

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