Raiders QB Derek Carr posts farewell message as team reportedly explores trade: ‘It breaks my heart’
Derek Carr’s time with the Las Vegas Raiders is over.
The veteran quarterback tweeted a farewell message to Raiders fans minutes after a report surfaced that the team had begun to explore trades for Carr.
"Raider Nation it breaks my heart I didn’t get an opportunity to say goodbye in person," Carr wrote. "We certainly have been on a roller coaster in our 9 years together. … It’s especially hard to say goodbye because I can honestly say that I gave you everything I had, every single day, in season, and in the offseason. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but I hope that I was able to leave you with more than a few great memories as Raider fans."
Carr’s agent added in a tweet that his client’s "tenure with the Raiders is effectively finished" and he "looks forward to the opportunity to write a new chapter for himself and his career."
This news was weeks in the making after the Raiders benched Carr for the final two games of the season following a tumultuous season under first-year head coach Josh McDaniels. Carr and the Raiders reportedly mutually agreed that he would step away from the team as well so as not to be a distraction during that two-game stretch. Las Vegas lost its final two games of the season with Jarrett Stidham under center and finished 6-11 on the year.
Carr’s exit leaves more questions than answers for both sides. He had started all but two games for the Raiders since the team drafted him 36th overall in 2014. During his nine years, Carr completed 64.6 percent of his passes for 35,222 yards, 217 touchdowns and 99 interceptions. In that order, those numbers rank 12th, fourth, seventh and third, respectively, among the 17 quarterbacks with at least 3,000 passing attempts from 2014-2022.
The Raiders appeared ready to build around Carr this year after trading for college teammate and superstar receiver Davante Adams this offseason. An offense centered around those two with auxiliary pieces like tight end Darren Waller, running back Josh Jacobs and receiver Hunter Renfrow looked primed to compete in an AFC West seemingly teeming with talent.
But a poor defense, lots of injuries and an 0-3 start to the season that included a few blown leads crippled the year before it really began. The Raiders couldn’t make up the ground in the second half of the season and Carr turned the ball over nine times in his final five starts as Vegas missed the postseason.
There were plenty of questions surrounding Carr’s viability as a franchise quarterback before this season, but another disappointing year sealed his fate in Vegas. It didn’t help that Carr will be owed $33 million guaranteed next season in case of injury and $7.5 million guaranteed in 2024 in case of injury.
Adams, who’s been a staunch supporter of Carr since the two played together at Fresno State, admitted he wanted to be traded to the Raiders because of Carr. Now, after only one season, the two will likely be playing for separate teams again.
Carr’s next destination
Carr has a no-trade clause in his contract, so he’ll either get to choose his next team either via trade or by being released. The Athletic’s Vic Tafur reported that a release is likely if the Raiders can’t strike a deal by Feb. 15. And there are plenty of teams who would be interested in the veteran passer.
If a team were to trade for Derek Carr, here is what it would owe him on his current deal:
2023: $32.9M base salary + $100K workout bonus = $33M cap hit
2024: $41.9M base salary + $100K workout bonus = $42M cap hit
2025: $41.2M base salary + $100K workout bonus = $41.3M cap hit
Carr certainly has a ceiling — his 7.1 yards per attempt ranks 23rd among quarterbacks with at least 2,000 passing attempts since 2014 and his 248 passing yards per game ranks 19th — but he’s experienced and played under four different offensive coordinators during his career. Teams who saw bad production from their quarterbacks in 2022 — such as the New York Jets, Washington Commanders and Indianapolis Colts — could eye the 31-year-old Carr as a savior.
What will the Raiders do?
There are a few different directions the Raiders could go after moving on from Carr.
The simplest is to draft a quarterback with the seventh overall pick this spring if one of the best prospects falls to them. We already saw what McDaniels could do with a young quarterback after Mac Jones’ rookie season with the New England Patriots in 2021. That may not happen, though, with other QB-needy teams such as the Houston Texans and Colts ahead of the Raiders in the draft order.
Another option for Vegas would be to trade for a veteran. It’s unclear who would be available, but the speculation surrounding Aaron Rodgers and the potential to reunite him with Adams could be enticing.
The Raiders could also dip their toes into the free-agent pool with an estimated $10.9 million in salary cap space, per Over The Cap. There are a couple of big names who could be on the market, including Tom Brady, who appears interested in continuing his career but maybe not with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady reportedly almost joined the Raiders during his first free agency tour in 2020, and his connection with McDaniels during their time in New England cannot be discounted. Jimmy Garappolo, another former McDaniels quarterback, could be an option as well if he doesn’t return to the San Francisco 49ers.
There are a lot of different directions both sides can go this summer. But, at the very least, we know now a separation is at hand in Las Vegas.