Derek Carr visiting Jets as search for veteran QB heats up
Let the fact-finding begin.
The Jets are going shopping, seeking to purchase or trade for a starting quarterback to add to a roster they see as missing that most critical ingredient. They will bring in free agent Derek Carr this weekend for a visit, The Post confirmed, although it is believed the Jets have their sights set on landing the biggest fish in the sea: Aaron Rodgers.
Carr, 31, is certainly an option, given his track record during his nine-year stay with the Raiders, the only NFL team he has played for. The Raiders released Carr on Tuesday after he declined to waive his no-trade clause. The timing of the release allowed the Raiders to avoid paying Carr more than $40 million on his contract, which would have become guaranteed if he had remained on the roster.
The Jets have no plans to go into the 2023 season with Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, as their first option at quarterback after his disastrous 2022 showing. Rodgers remains under contract with the Packers, but most likely not for long. If he becomes available, he instantly would be one of the most heralded players to ever hit the trade market and the Jets would be there with an offer.
Carr, who already has visited with the Saints, certainly would be an upgrade over what the Jets currently have at the most important position on the field. NFL Network was first to report his upcoming visit with the Jets.
Visits usually include dinner with coaches and perhaps a few players, a tour of the practice facility, a tour of the neighborhood and perhaps some preliminary discussion of how the visiting player might fit in with the offense or defense.
Last week, Jets owner Woody Johnson said, “That’s an issue’’ when asked about the quarterback position.
“That’s the issue right now,’’ Johnson said. “The issue is quarterback performance and also running the ball. We have to have a balanced offense.”
Johnson said “I’m always optimistic’’ when asked if he believed the Jets could land a difference-maker at quarterback.
This past season, the Jets used three different starting quarterbacks: Wilson, Mike White and Joe Flacco. Johnson has previously said he “absolutely’’ would be willing to pay top dollar to sign a proven, veteran quarterback.
Options other than Rodgers (via trade) and Carr are Jimmy Garoppolo and Ryan Tannehill, if the Titans decide to part ways with him.
“We have a lot of respect for Derek Carr and what he has meant to the Raiders organization for the last nine years,” Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler said in a joint statement the day Carr was released. “Derek has done great things in this league and we’re thankful to have been able to work with him this past year. He is a true professional and we appreciate his hard work in striving to produce the results we all desire. We wish Derek and his family all the best in the future.”
Carr will turn 32 on March 28. His time with the Raiders, first in Oakland and more recently in Las Vegas, has been turbulent. He played for six different head coaches in his nine seasons and worked with five different play-callers. His 142 starts since he arrived in the NFL in 2014 are tied with Tom Brady for the most by any quarterback in that span. Carr, a second-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft out of Fresno State, has a career record of 63-79, with two playoff appearances and no playoff wins. Carr has 217 touchdown passes, 99 interceptions and a career quarterback rating of 91.8.
There is a connection between Carr and the Jets. Todd Downing, Carr’s quarterbacks coach and later his offensive coordinator during his early years with the Raiders, was recently hired as passing game coordinator by Jets head coach Robert Saleh.
There is an even more substantial connection between Rodgers and the Jets: recently hired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who was the offensive coordinator in Green Bay in 2019-2021 and worked well with Rodgers. With Hackett calling the shots, Rodgers threw a career-high 48 touchdown passes in 2020.
The Jets need options in case Rodgers decides he wants to stay with the Packers … if Green Bay is interested in keeping him, of course. The mercurial Rodgers said recently he plans to spend four days in a “darkness retreat’’ to help him decide his future. If he comes out of the darkness wanting out of Green Bay, the next step would be for the Packers to find a trade partner — and Rodgers will not come cheap. The Jets, though, will be motivated buyers.