Jarrett Stidham

Broncos “Leaning Toward” Jarrett Stidham As QB1

Before the 2024 league year began, we heard that Jarrett Stidham had a good chance to open the season as the Broncos’ starting quarterback. Now, as the dust settles on the first wave of free agency, it appears that Stidham’s hold on the QB1 job has only gotten stronger.

In evaluating the QB signings and trades that have taken place around the league, Mike Klis of 9News.com says that the Broncos “seem to be leaning toward” having Stidham serve as the starter — at least at the beginning of the 2024 campaign — and using their No. 12 overall selection on a collegiate passer. After all, while Denver considered Sam Darnold, who ultimately signed with the Vikings, Sean Payton & Co. reportedly did not make a contract offer (per Klis, Darnold strongly preferred Minnesota anyway).

Likewise, Klis reports that the Broncos did their due diligence on former Patriots signal-caller Mac Jones, but they did not make a trade offer. New England ultimately dealt Jones to the Jaguars for a sixth-round pick. Klis also says that Denver was never in on high-priced free agent options like Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield, and he adds that the club has not shown any interest in Ryan Tannehill. While there are still free agents (Tannehill) and trade candidates (Trey Lance, Zach Wilson) that the Broncos could pursue, none of them would necessarily unseat Stidham.

Notwithstanding Klis’ expectation that the Broncos’ will use their top draft choice on a quarterback, Troy Renck of the Denver Post believes the team could trade back, unless a player like Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy should fall into that range, or unless Payton is particularly high on Oregon’s Bo Nix. Renck’s sources tell him that four quarterbacks will be selected within the top six picks of the draft, and it certainly seems to be a safe bet that the first three selections will be used on passers. The Bears (No. 1 overall) and Commanders (No. 2 overall) appear poised to draft QBs, and even if the Patriots (No. 3 overall) trade back, the team that trades with them may well use that pick on a quarterback. The price to leap up the draft board to select the third- or fourth-best QB prospect in the draft would be prohibitive for a team like the Broncos that is clearly in rebuild mode (to say nothing of the fact that the Vikings, who have the No. 11 overall pick, are better-positioned to make such a move).

Obviously, if the Broncos were to trade down as Renck suggests, that would solidify Stidham as the short-term starter while helping the team pick up additional capital to address other holes on a roster that has plenty of them. One way or another, as Albert Breer of SI.com wrote on the day free agency began, Denver is not going to force anything at the QB position, and Payton’s confidence in Stidham affords them the ability to be patient, even if “patience” is not one of Payton’s favorite words.

Russell Wilson Free To Negotiate With Teams

MARCH 6: Although Wilson will remain a Bronco until March 13, the team will extend this free agency preview of sorts to include in-person visits with other clubs, per ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter. An unofficial agreement could conceivably commence before free agency starts, though teams interested in Wilson likely will be interested in seeing how other QB dominoes fall before committing.

MARCH 5: The Broncos officially announced on Monday that Russell Wilson will be let go, marking an end to his disappointing stint with the team. The move will not be made until the new league year begins, but Wilson could have a new agreement in place by that point.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports Denver has no issue with Wilson immediately negotiating with prospective teams. The outgoing veteran passer is still under contract with the Broncos (and will be until March 13), but with his fate already known the team will allow him to begin seeking out his next home. Wilson is therefore, for all intents and purposes, already a free agent.

With $39MM in compensation guaranteed for 2024 by the Broncos, an acquiring team will not be obligated to add the Super Bowl winner on a lucrative pact. Any base salary Wilson signs for will offset part of Denver’s obligations to him. Given the state of the 35-year-old’s value, though, a short-term pact at a low cost will likely be the means by which he begins the third chapter of his NFL career.

A number of teams will be in the market for a veteran passer as the offseason unfolds. Wilson will not be as in-demand as the likes of Kirk Cousins or Baker Mayfield, but he could be viewed as having higher upside than other bridge options such as Jacoby Brissett and Ryan Tannehill. While the Broncos could be in the market for an experienced signal-caller to take Wilson’s place, the top incumbent passer on the roster will likely receive the first chance to earn the starting gig.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network notes Jarrett Stidham is in place to take on QB1 duties, especially if Denver does not add a quarterback in the first round of April’s draft (video link). Plenty could change under center in the coming months, but Payton has thrown his support behind Stidham (who signed a two-year deal last offseason) before and after he filled in for Wilson following the latter’s benching. Resources will be limited if the Broncos aim to add a pricey free agent, of course, given the cap consequences of Wilson’s release.

On that point, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports Denver has not yet decided how to handle the move to cut Wilson. A guaranteed $22MM payment owed next week either as an option bonus or, if declined, base salary, will affect the cap charges associated with the release. The team will be hit with $35.4MM in dead money in 2024 and $49.6MM next season if the option is picked up, or cap charges of $53MM and $32MM if not. The Broncos will make a decision on how to structure Wilson’s contract while he begins the process of landing a new one.

Latest On Broncos, Russell Wilson

Unsurprisingly, the Broncos’ decision to bench Russell Wilson has generated some fallout. The process that led to this call transpired during much of the team’s five-game win streak earlier this season

Wilson has been expecting to be released since shortly after the team’s win over the Chiefs on Oct. 29, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini (subscription required). Despite Wilson playing much better in 2023 than he did during a shockingly mediocre 2022, his contract has hovered as a big-picture issue for the Broncos.

Sean Payton acknowledged the economic component involved with this benching — one that comes exactly a year after the Raiders shelved Derek Carr to play Jarrett Stidham for contract reasons — but said the team wants to gather some intel on its backup before season’s end. With the Broncos’ last-second loss to the Patriots all but slamming the door shut on their playoff hopes, the initiation of Wilson divorce proceedings makes sense. The inevitable release will bring a seismic dead-money hit, one that will more than double the record the Falcons set last year ($40.5MM) when they traded Matt Ryan to the Colts.

It will cost the Broncos $84.6MM in dead money to cut Wilson in 2024. They will assuredly spread that number over two offseasons with a post-June 1 designation, but this will still represent a significant chapter in NFL transaction history — one that will hamstring the Broncos for two more years. It is unclear where Wilson will end up and how the Broncos — thanks to the Payton-Wilson experiment producing a midseason surge that revived the team’s playoff hopes — will go about replacing him. At 7-8, Denver’s draft slot sits 14th presently. But this drama has played out behind the scenes for weeks.

Shortly after the Broncos’ 24-9 win over the Chiefs, GM George Paton initiated the conversation to Wilson’s agent centered around the QB delaying his 2025 guarantee. The third-year Broncos GM said Wilson would be benched for the season’s final nine games if he did not delay the $37MM guarantee for 2025, Russini reports. That number, which shifts from an injury guarantee to a full guarantee on Day 5 of the 2024 league year, is behind the Broncos’ decision to bench Wilson now. This did not amount to a full-on ultimatum, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who notes team brass went through Wilson’s agent rather than bringing the QB into a meeting and demanding he adjust his deal or lose his starting job.

The Broncos’ ultimatum, reiterated days after Paton’s initial request, prompted Wilson’s agent to contact the NFLPA, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson reports. Paton is said to have noted Wilson’s benching would be financially motivated, rather than for skill or performance. Reviewing the matter, the NFLPA wrote a letter to the Broncos and indicated it had consulted with the NFL management council, per Anderson, who offers that the team then sent Wilson’s camp a letter conveying the QB’s refusal to change his contract’s guarantee structure would be respected. The letter, however, also indicated Payton would now dictate if Wilson would be benched. The Broncos never previously informed the 35-year-old passer when he would be shelved, however, according to Russini.

Ultimately, the Broncos’ talks with Wilson’s camp about delaying the 2025 guarantee were not amicable and were not in accordance with the CBA, per Anderson. Though, the team does not share the viewpoint the talks were not CBA-compliant. But this relationship — one that veered from disastrous to adequate on the field from 2022-23 — looks to have been deteriorating over the past two months. Wilson has likely thrown his last pass as a Bronco, with Stidham — given a two-year, $10MM deal in March — in place to start the final two games.

The contract component will lead to this trade being viewed as one of the worst in NFL history. Wilson’s 26-TD, eight-INT bounce-back effort notwithstanding, NFL.com’s James Palmer notes people in Denver’s building viewed this benching as a football-related call — with the obvious financial undercurrent — for the 2023 season’s remainder.

Payton has said the offense needs to improve, and Palmer adds the new Broncos HC believes too many elements are present in the team’s current attack. Prior to the Wilson-guided rally against the Patriots, the Broncos’ offense struggled during an ugly effort. Payton has since said he does not view the up-tempo attack Wilson thrived in as sustainable over the course of a game. Pro Football Focus rates the Broncos’ offensive line as seventh overall, but Palmer adds only Justin Fields has been pressured more than Wilson. Broncos staffers also believe the pocket has been cleaner than the sack-prone QB’s pattern would depict. Wilson ranks seventh in passer rating but 21st in QBR.

While this adds up to Payton believing the fit between his concepts and Wilson’s strengths — a long-rumored issue after the Broncos acquired the ex-Saints HC — is too clunky, the team (and potentially its GM) will pay the price in the form of the historic dead-money sum.

Paton said upon firing Nathaniel Hackett he believed Wilson was salvageable, and Payton said just before this season the potential Hall of Famer’s skills had not eroded despite his 2022 regression. Wilson partially proved both right, but the Broncos’ offensive performance was not justifying the trade cost or the $49MM-per-year extension. Following the report Wilson wanted Payton to replace Pete Carroll in Seattle, Payton being the one to bench the accomplished QB is rather ironic.

Stidham’s contract contains just $1MM guaranteed for 2024, but after his Raiders run brought one stunningly productive start (a 365-yard, three-TD outing against the 49ers) and one shaky showing (against the Chiefs), the Broncos will see what their backup can bring. Wilson has since tweeted, “Looking forward to what’s next.”

As a head coach, you’ve got to make some tough decisions and they won’t always be right,” Payton said. “They just won’t. You go with your gut and your instincts. We need a spark. We need something right now. We’ll handle the long term when we get there.”

Broncos To Bench Russell Wilson

With a Week 16 loss to the Patriots effectively closing the door on the Broncos’ playoff hopes, the Russell Wilson watch has begun in Denver. As Sean Payton was not with the team when it acquired the longtime Seahawks star last year, the 2024 offseason has been viewed as a key point on the Broncos’ timeline.

It could also soon be a key chapter in NFL transaction history. Sitting at 7-8, the Broncos will bench Wilson. Payton informed the team Jarrett Stidham will start in Week 17, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reports. After the Broncos followed up a five-game win streak with a 1-3 stretch, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported the team was considering this move — one aimed at ensuring Wilson stays healthy before a pivotal offseason physical.

While Wilson has played much better this season, he has not justified the Broncos’ trade cost. The team sent an eight-asset package to Seattle, which included two first-round picks and two second-rounders. That decision came just after Aaron Rodgers — a multiyear Broncos target — agreed to a Packers extension. More importantly, the extension the Broncos gave Wilson just before last season creates a complex situation for the improved team.

The Broncos signed Wilson to a five-year, $245MM extension last summer; that deal came with $124MM fully guaranteed. The team had Wilson on a Seahawks-constructed contract ($35MM per year) through 2024, but it wanted to beat this year’s extension surge, leading to the $49MM-AAV re-up. Wilson waiving his no-trade clause for Denver always pointed to a new deal in 2022, but that turned out to be the wrong play. Even considering this year’s improvement, Wilson has not moved the needle for a Broncos team that has not found an upper-crust replacement for Peyton Manning since his 2016 retirement. Stidham will be the Broncos’ 14th starting QB post-Manning.

The Broncos can protect themselves against a $37MM guarantee (Wilson’s 2025 base salary) vesting in 2024, but the team cutting Wilson would create a staggering dead-money total. Even if the Broncos release Wilson with a post-June 1 designation — which would assuredly be the move if they are indeed cutting the cord — they would take on $35MM in dead money next year, according to OverTheCap. That would approach a record in itself, but this move would also bring a $49.6MM dead-money blow for 2025. Considering Matt Ryan‘s $40.5MM dead-money total from 2022 remains the single-player record, the Broncos would be sailing into uncharted waters — a two-offseason dead-cap total of $84.6MM associated with Wilson’s contract — if they cut their top quarterback next year.

On Day 5 of the 2024 league year, that $37MM guarantee vests if Wilson remains on the Broncos’ roster. That number is guaranteed for injury only until that March date, when it shifts to a full guarantee. But $68MM in bonus prorations from 2024-28 are also part of this equation, which stands to lead to the dead-money bloodbath.

Wilson’s contract containing a year-out guarantee, which is common among today’s high-profile deals, will force the Broncos’ hand early. If Wilson’s 2025 base salary locks in come March, the Broncos would still be tagged with $86.6MM in dead money (the $37MM base plus the $49.6MM in prorated bonuses from 2025-28) if they cut the decorated QB in 2025 rather than 2024. If Payton has deemed this a substandard fit, it behooves the Broncos to absorb this unprecedented financial blow early. Offset language does exist in Wilson’s deal, which would provide some relief once the 12th-year veteran lands elsewhere, OverTheCap’s Jason Fitzgerald adds.

This scenario is eerily similar to the one the Raiders encountered with Derek Carr. Once again, Stidham is the player who would move into the starting lineup in the event of a protection-based benching. Deciding early to bail on the Carr extension that included a February 2023 guarantee vesting date, the Raiders parked Carr on the bench — though, he left the team to avoid becoming a distraction — ahead of Week 17 last season.

Stidham started the Raiders’ final two games last season, creating a QB2 market. The Broncos gave the ex-Patriots draftee a two-year, $10MM deal to back up Wilson, beating out a Raiders offer. Unlike Carr, Wilson will not leave his team. He will dress as Denver’s QB2 against the Chargers, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets.

Wilson ranks seventh in passer rating, throwing 26 touchdown passes — after he tossed just 16 last season — compared to just eight interceptions. But the Broncos have not exactly deployed an explosive offense. It ranks 16th in points scored, though that is up from 32nd last year, and 16th in DVOA. Wilson’s relative bounce-back effort notwithstanding, the team remains limited through the air. Payton has restrained Wilson to a degree, and the Broncos have largely relied on short passes or deep shots to Courtland Sutton during their rebound from a 1-5 start. The 35-year-old passer ranks 21st in QBR, and new regimes are more willing to take on dead money associated with players brought in under previous staffs.

Technically, this is not a new regime. GM George Paton remains, but it is widely assumed Payton is calling the shots in Denver. Paton, who was in place for the Wilson extension and Nathaniel Hackett‘s one-and-done, has been linked to being on thin ice. A move to bench Wilson to protect against an injury affecting his contract status may well precede Paton exiting in 2024. The coach Paton traded for this offseason has not meshed especially well with Wilson, whose skillset differs from Drew Brees‘.

For Wilson, this obviously represents new territory. Although the two-time Super Bowl starter submitted a shockingly mediocre season under Hackett, the Broncos did not bench him last season. The nine-time Pro Bowler moving closer to his Seahawks form under Payton may keep the Hall of Fame in play — though, this Denver tenure does inject an interesting chapter — but this benching points to him being available in 2024. Considering this is not a tradeable contract, Wilson is moving toward becoming a free agent for the first time.

This imminent separation will put the Broncos in the market for a new quarterback soon. The team’s recovery from its 1-5 start will make that more difficult, as its draft slot has dropped to 14th. Should the Broncos follow through on their now-expected Wilson release in 2024, it will be interesting to see if a team would be willing to provide another starting opportunity for the ex-Seattle iron man. Wilson is the only player in NFL history with over 40,000 passing yards and 5,000 rushing yards. After being hesitant to run much under Hackett, Wilson has regularly helped the 2023 Broncos by scrambling (341 rushing yards).

While it is clear Wilson is past his prime, he has played a key role in the Broncos’ surprising playoff push — one that Stidham now controls. ESPN’s FPI gives the Broncos just a 5.6% chance to qualify. Against those long odds, the team will soon began a look toward the future.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Ekeler, Raiders

Jarrett Stidham will replace Brett Rypien as Russell Wilson‘s Broncos backup, agreeing to a two-year, $10MM deal. While Stidham has fewer career starts than Rypien, his late-season Raiders cameo — particularly a 365-yard, three-touchdown performance against the 49ers’ No. 1-ranked defense — generated a market for the former Patriots fourth-round pick. Stidham chose the Broncos over the Raiders because of Las Vegas’ Jimmy Garoppolo signing and potential to also add a quarterback in the first round, per NBC Sports’ Peter King. From the Broncos’ perspective, Sean Payton views Stidham as an upward-trending option behind Wilson.

There were a handful of No. 2s that either I have worked with, or we felt comfortable with,” Payton said, via the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson. “In this case, I think he’s a No. 2 whose arrow is moving in a direction where we feel like he can become an NFL starter in our league. The evaluation was pretty crystal clear for all of us. I think he’s someone that’s going to be great in the room. He’s smart. Quietly, that was an important signing for us.”

Payton’s words do not point to a quarterback competition, but this addition does provide an option in case Wilson’s 2022 stumble was more indicative of a steep decline than being trapped in a dysfunctional offense. Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • Wilson ran into a few injury problems during his shockingly mediocre first season in Denver. Knee trouble can be added to the Broncos quarterback’s list of ailments. Wilson underwent arthroscopic knee surgery shortly after last season ended, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The 12th-year passer is expected to be ready for Payton’s first round of Broncos OTAs. This issue nagged Wilson for a few seasons, per Rapoport. Last year, the knee trouble accompanied hamstring, shoulder and lat issues, along with a late-season concussion. Wilson, who did not miss an NFL start until his 11th season, missed two games last year.
  • Dre’Mont Jones signed for slightly more per year than Zach Allen, committing to the Seahawks on a three-year, $51MM deal just after the ex-Cardinal agreed to a three-year, $45.75MM Broncos pact. But Jones ended up receiving less guaranteed money ($23MM) than Allen ($32.5MM). The Broncos viewed Jones’ initial asking price as too high, Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com notes, pointing to Jones — a player the team had long wanted to retain — preferring a change of scenery or reducing his demand as the market shifted. The Browns also pursued Jones but landed Dalvin Tomlinson shortly after the ex-Bronco’s Seattle pledge.
  • Austin Ekeler explained his trade request recently, correctly indicating his contract is out of step with the value he provides the Chargers. But GMs do not see a market forming for the former UDFA, Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post notes. Ekeler has outperformed most of his peers on their respective second contracts, but several teams took advantage of this year’s buyer’s market at the position. Many lesser backs filled roster holes. While Ekeler is still just 27 and could provide versatility for another team, the Bolts may not land too much for him. His four-year, $24.5MM contract runs through season’s end.
  • Robert Spillane signed a two-year, $7MM Raiders contract, coming over from the Steelers. That ended up being more than Denzel Perryman received to leave Las Vegas for Houston, and Spillane said (via The Athletic’s Vic Tafur) Raiders coaches want him to wear the green communication dot. This would point to the Raiders eyeing a big role for Spillane, a run-stuffer who logged a career-high 59% defensive snap rate in 2022.
  • The Raiders were planning to move Dylan Parham from guard to center, Tafur adds, but the team’s decision to retain starting snapper Andre James will lead to Parham staying at left guard (Twitter link). A 2022 third-round pick, Parham started all 17 Raiders games as a rookie. McDaniels said the Memphis alum will still work at center, pointing to this being the team’s backup plan in case James goes down.
  • Jerry Tillery‘s Raiders deal is a two-year, $6.8MM accord that includes $5.5MM in total guarantees, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweets. The ex-Chargers first-round D-tackle is due a guaranteed $1.5MM roster bonus in 2024, though his 2024 base salary ($1.7MM) does not become fully guaranteed until next March.

Jarrett Stidham, Broncos Agree To Deal

As the Raiders landed Jimmy Garoppolo, another of Josh McDaniels‘ ex-Patriots passers-turned-Raiders options is headed out of Nevada. Jarrett Stidham will trek to Denver.

The Broncos, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), are giving Stidham a nice backup quarterback contract — two years, $10MM — to step in behind Russell Wilson. The deal includes $5MM guaranteed, giving Stidham a clear runway to be Denver’s QB2 in 2023.

Stidham spent three seasons in New England. For a period in 2020, it looked like the Patriots would give him the keys post-Tom Brady. But they signed Cam Newton to take over instead. Stidham, a former fourth-round pick, sat behind Brian Hoyer in New England as well. McDaniels brought him to Las Vegas in 2022, but Sean Payton will land the Raiders’ end-of-season starter.

Stidham and new Broncos quarterbacks coach Davis Webb have known each other since they were teenagers. Despite becoming Denver’s QBs coach, Webb — at 27 — is just one year older than Stidham. The Dallas-area natives will work together in Denver, though the Sean Payton-Wilson partnership will obviously generate the bulk of the headlines this season.

The Raiders made the surprising move to bench Derek Carr ahead of Week 17, moving Stidham into the starting lineup. Stidham’s first start produced a stunning stat line — 365 yards, three touchdown passes — against the 49ers’ top-ranked defense. The Raiders are giving Garoppolo a midlevel contract, and they have been connected to drafting a quarterback early as well. As such, Stidham is relocating. He had other suitors besides the Broncos, per Rapoport.

Latest On Raiders’ QB Situation

Since their decision to move on from Derek Carrquestions have been raised about which direction the Raiders will go in at the quarterback position. As they and other teams continue the evaluation process of both free agent and draft options, much remains uncertain.

General manager Dave Ziegler recently acknowledged that a long-term Carr successor may not be in place by the time the 2023 season kicks off. That was particularly noteworthy given the fact that the Raiders currently hold the seventh overall pick in the upcoming draft, and that they have a number of free agent priorities to address with the money which would be saved by not acquiring a high-end veteran starter. Comments from head coach Josh McDaniels point to a rookie passer still being a distinct possibility for next year, though.

When speaking about the work he and the Raiders would do in meeting with and evaluating the 2023 QB class during the combine, McDaniels affirmed that the organization’s goal does remain adding someone who is “going to be a Raider for a long time.” Las Vegas would have to compete with the likes of the Texans, Colts and Panthers in terms of teams holding top-10 picks which are likely to be targeting rookie passers. Jockeying with those squads could become increasingly relevant given the Bears’ willingness to move the No. 1 pick.

“The goal for us, eventually, is to have somebody that’s going to be here for a long time,” McDaniels elaborated, via ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez“You see the teams that are having success right now in our league, our conference and specifically in our division, they’re young players that were drafted by their clubs and they’re being developed there under the same continuity.”

Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud are likely to be out of the Raiders’ range barring a trade up the board, but other quarterbacks like Kentucky’s Will Levis or Florida’s Anthony Richardson could be options. The team’s evaluations of those passers will become crucial in informing their short- and long-term plans at the position, though McDaniels pointed out that “a number of” QBs will be acquired in the coming weeks and months.

Part of the reason for that, of course, is the fact that Jarrett Stidham, who finished the year as the team’s starter, is not under contract. On that point, Ziegler noted (via Vic Tafur of The Athletic) that talks have begun with the former Patriots draftee. He added that the team is “happy” with Stidham’s performance in his brief audition after Carr was benched, though at least one other option capable of competing for the starting role will no doubt be added in either March or April. Which path the Raiders take to accomplish that very much remains up in the air.

Raiders To Bench Derek Carr, Start Jarrett Stidham

The Raiders may be making a big-picture move. For the first time in his career, Derek Carr will be the Raiders’ backup quarterback. Josh McDaniels announced Jarrett Stidham will start in Week 17.

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.

Raiders To Trade QB Nick Mullens To Vikings

The Raiders faced a decision with respect to their backup quarterback position at some point before the start of the regular season. They have apparently made it, as the team is sending Nick Mullens to the Vikings in exchange for a conditional 2024 seventh-round pick (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero). 

His colleague Ian Rapoport adds that Mullens must be active for one game this season for Vegas to receive the pick. The Raiders signed Mullens this April as an insurance policy for starter Derek Carr. The former UDFA spent three seasons in San Francisco, wining five of his 16 starts filling in for Jimmy Garoppolo. He then joined the Eagles briefly, but spent last season in Cleveland, where he made one start as the Browns were dealing with a long list of COVID-related absences.

One month after signing Mullens, though, the Raiders also traded for Jarrett Stidham. The former Patriots fourth-rounder got an opportunity to once again work with Josh McDaniels in Vegas, and has impressed in training camp and the preseason to the point where he has won the competition with Mullens for the No. 2 spot.

The Vikings, meanwhile, will likely be able to accommodate Mullens for their backup gig. Minnesota drafted Kellen Mond in the third round last year, but have also rostered Sean Mannion. The two have been receiving equal work so far in training camp, indicating that neither has significantly distanced themselves from the other. With Mullens, who has familiarity in the kind of offensive system new head coach Kevin O’Connell will install, the Vikings will have more of a known commodity behind Kirk Cousins.

The team will be likely to try and retain Mond as well, given his draft status. His hold on a 53-man roster spot has now become much less certain, though, as both the Raiders and Vikings look for clarity in their QB rooms in the build-up to campaigns carrying significant expectations.

Patriots To Trade Jarrett Stidham To Raiders

After they added more depth to their quarterback room, the Patriots were likely to make a move with Jarrett Stidham. They have done so today, as Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reports (on Twitter) that New England is trading him to the Raiders. 

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero adds that New England is sending a seventh round pick along with Stidham in exchange for a sixth-rounder from Vegas (Twitter link). The deal represents a new beginning for the 25-year-old, but it will reunite him with a familiar face on the Raiders’ staff in Josh McDaniels.

After being drafted in the fourth round by New England in 2019, Stidham worked with the new Vegas head coach when he served as the Patriots’ offensive coordinator. That season marked Tom Brady‘s last with the team, so it came as no surprise that he only attempted four passes in the regular season. After Brady’s departure, though, expectations were raised for Stidham to be able to take over the starting role.

That didn’t end up happening, however, as the Baylor and Auburn alum sat behind Cam Newton. Stidham made five appearances, completing 22 of 44 passes for 256 yards, a pair of touchdowns and three interceptions. Between the level of play showed by both signal-callers, the Patriots entered the subsequent draft needing a new quarterback. They filled that need by selecting Mac Jones in the first round.

This year, the team selected Bailey Zappe in the fourth round to further add to the depth chart. Given the presence of the Western Kentucky product, as well as veteran Brian Hoyer, Stidham would have faced stiff competition for a roster spot. The same could be true in Vegas, as he will join Nick Mullens, Garrett Gilbert and Chase Garbers in vying for the backup job behind Derek Carr.