Carr, 31, is the longest-tenured starting quarterback in Raiders history and the team’s all-time passing leader. He has started 91 straight games. But he threw three interceptions last week and now leads the league with 14 this season. Considering the structure of Carr’s contract, this decision could have long-term ramifications.
This move is for the rest of the regular season, per McDaniels, who said (via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, on Twitter) the Raiders will evaluate the younger quarterback as well as other younger players. The team is already shutting down Chandler Jones and Denzel Perryman; other vets could follow. This could impact the AFC and NFC playoff races; the Raiders host the 49ers in Week 17 and the Chiefs in Week 18. For Las Vegas, however, this decision may bring a major change.
Months after McDaniels took over, he and GM Dave Ziegler authorized a second Carr extension — this one a three-year, $121.4MM deal — that locked down the ninth-year quarterback through 2025. But the contract gives the Raiders an out. Three days after Super Bowl LVII, $40.4MM — Carr’s $32.9MM 2023 salary and $7.5MM of his 2024 base — will become guaranteed. The Raiders, then, have a narrow window to find a trade partner.
Carr’s market should be expected to heat up after the Super Bowl, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets, though the Pro Bowl QB’s extension does include a no-trade clause. That will complicate a potential deal. If the Raiders do move him, it would free up $29.3MM in cap space, Joel Corry of CBS Sports offers (via Twitter).
Raiders brass discussed the Carr plan over the past two nights, per The Athletic’s Vic Tafur, and Wednesday’s decision increases the likelihood Carr could be on the move in February. No trade can become official until the 2023 league year begins in March, but high-profile QB swaps — such as the Matthew Stafford deal or the Alex Smith exchange — have taken place around the Super Bowl in recent years. The Raiders sitting Carr now protects against an injury affecting the longtime starter’s value, even though the 6-9 team is not technically eliminated. On the fringes of “In the hunt” graphics, however, the Raiders are effectively looking ahead to next season.
Carr trade rumors persisted during Jon Gruden’s tenure, but given his performance level, the Raiders securing a replacement who could outplay him was difficult. Thus, Carr stayed on and steadily improved under Gruden. Under McDaniels this season, he has taken a step back. The former second-round pick has thrown nine INTs over his past five games, completing 57% of his passes in that span.
Were the Raiders to make Carr available, a few teams would likely be interested. The Jets, Commanders, Saints, Panthers and Colts are teams who could upgrade with Carr. Excepting the Colts, that lot will not hold top-five draft choices. The Commanders, Panthers, Colts and Saints were in this offseason’s QB market, while the Jets are likely to enter the mix in 2023. Zach Wilson may already be on the way out, and Mike White‘s contract is up after the season. If Carr becomes available, he would join Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Brady and Daniel Jones as the top potential targets. Other QBs, as recent years have shown, may be on the trade market. But the Seahawks are aiming to retain Geno Smith. And it will take a Deshaun Watson-level package to pry Lamar Jackson from the Ravens, who are all but certain to use their franchise tag on the former MVP.
Carr has enjoyed an up-and-down run in Oakland and Vegas but offered the Raiders QB stability for the first time since Rich Gannon in the early 2000s. The JaMarcus Russell pick and Carson Palmer trade highlighted a wayward stretch between Gannon and Carr. The team is currently sitting in the No. 9 draft slot; multiple quarterbacks will likely be off the board by that point. Of course, moving Carr would give the team more assets to potentially climb in the draft. With Stidham (zero starts in New England) unlikely to be a true option for 2023, the Raiders will seemingly join the aforementioned teams in the QB market — provided they pull the trigger on a deal.
McDaniels’ previous HC stay — an eventful Denver tenure cut short before the end of his second season — featured him moving on from the team’s starting quarterback (Jay Cutler) just weeks into the polarizing HC’s stay. Multiple quarterbacks set for free agency — Brady, Garoppolo — have extensive pasts with the former Patriots OC. The Raiders potentially preparing to move on so soon after this year’s extension/trial balloon — and months after they acquired longtime Carr friend Davante Adams — will inject more intrigue into what promises to be another action-packed quarterback market.