Saints Sign Derek Carr

12:25pm: Details are in on the Carr deal, per Rapoport (Twitter link). The contract is worth $150MM over four years, good for an average annual value of $37.5MM; that figure ranks ninth in the league amongst QBs. In addition, the Saints are giving Carr $100MM in total guarantees, including $60MM guaranteed at signing (which rank 10th and 11th in the NFL at the position, respectively, and outweigh the $40MM the Raiders would have owed him had they not released him when they did). $10MM due in year three of the pact vests after one season, meaning the contract essentially contains $70MM fully guaranteed. Garafolo tweets that a no-trade clause is in place as well.

Rapoport adds that Carr agreed to structure the deal in a way which helps their tight cap situation, meaning the first year likely carries a low cap hit. Even if that’s the case, Winston is all-but assured to find himself playing elsewhere in 2023 as New Orleans looks for less expensive options behind Carr.

9:19am: After plenty of speculation, the first quarterback domino is set to fall in 2023. Derek Carr is signing with the Saints, reports Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). His colleague Ian Rapoport tweets that the deal is four years in length. The Saints have since announced that the contract is officially in place.

Carr’s tenure with the Raiders all-but officially came to an end late in the 2022 season when he was benched. He spent the final two weeks of the campaign away from the team, leading to questions of where he would land next and how Vegas would proceed under center. A trade was a possibility at one point, with the Saints being the only team which worked out compensation with the Raiders on a potential deal. However, the 31-year-old forced Vegas to release him and give himself the chance to test the open market.

That made Carr the top quarterback known to be available prior to the start of free agency. He had a visit with the Jets which resulted in mutual interest existing between the two sides. New York has been very public about their intentions of adding a veteran passer to give the team stability at the position, though they have routinely been linked to a potential Aaron Rodgers trade.

Carr met with not only the Saints and Jets, but also the Panthers during the Combine, a sign that New Orleans could be facing competition from their division rival. Carolina was thought to be weary of Carr’s $35MM-per-year asking price, however, leading to the expectation that they will use the draft to find their next long-term QB. This news points the Panthers further in that direction.

It came out last week that the Saints were prepared to sign Carr after the outcome of their sit-downs with him. That suggested they were in the lead to land the four-time Pro Bowler, although an update from yesterday seemed to keep the Jets firmly in the running. In any case, it comes as little surprise that Carr has made his decision before the start of the new league year, when other veterans (including Jimmy Garoppolo) will become eligible to sign with teams.

The Saints made a strong push for Deshaun Watson last offseason, in spite of an unenviable cap situation. That led them to turn back to Jameis Winston as their Week 1 starter, though the addition of backup Andy Dalton led to the expectation that a swap in the pecking order could be coming. That was indeed what happened relatively early in the season, though Dalton’s performances led to increased calls for Winston to be re-installed as the No. 1.

Overall, neither passer did enough in 2022 to dissuade New Orleans from making a splash at the position. Dalton is a pending free agent, while Winston has one year remaining on his current contract. Releasing the latter as a post-June 1 cut would yield $12.8MM in cap savings, though the Saints still have plenty of need for additional funds in the immediate future. The team has made multiple moves recently with respect to restructures, as they looked to carve out not only the needed space to achieve cap compliance, but also the ability to afford Carr. Now, they have done enough to land what they hope will be an upgrade at the position for the foreseeable future.

Attention will now increasingly turn to the Jets’ pursuit of Rodgers, who has at all times been their top preference. With Carr no longer available as a backup plan, New York could face increased urgency to trade for the four-time MVP, whose playing future remains very much in the air. Meanwhile, veterans Carson Wentz and Marcus Mariota are now the top passers available at the moment, after they were unsurprisingly released last week. With Carr off the board, the 2023 QB landscape has started to take shape.

View Comments (64)