This is not how a veteran quarterback should be treated. Certainly not one who has arguably been the best in franchise history. And certainly, not one whose team is still mathematically alive for the playoffs.
There isn’t a good football reason for benching Derek Carr. There are good financial reasons for benching Carr.
Michael Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis doesn’t want to risk Carr getting hurt and potentially being “on the hook for more than $40 million in future salary.”
Tyler Dragon of USA Today noted that the Raiders could cut Carr and only face a dead-cap hit of $5.6 million if they do so before Feb. 15.
Whatever happened to Just Win Baby? The late Al Davis is probably rolling over in his white jumpsuit.
With two games left in the regular season, the Raiders (6-9) are turning to Jarrett Stidham.
Stidham has never started an NFL game and has thrown two touchdown passes in his career. Good luck with that. Carr has started 142 games for the Raiders since being selected in the second round of the 2014 draft. He has made three Pro Bowls and only missed two games. Based on his draft slot, he has far exceeded expectations by setting numerous team passing records. Plus, by most accounts, he has been a model citizen on and off the field.
He didn’t deserve this, and the dysfunctional Raiders don’t deserve him.
To be fair, Carr, 31, has not had a good season under first-year coach Josh McDaniels. His passer rating (86.3) is the second-worst of his career, and he leads the league in interceptions (14). But you can’t argue that Stidham is a better option. Plus, it’s not Carr’s fault that Las Vegas has:
- Blown four double-digit halftime leads in losses
- Had questionable drafts
- Had a coach resign after homophobic and misogynistic emails
- Had an owner accused of creating a hostile workplace environment
That’s a lot of negativity to overcome. And even with so many setbacks in recent years, Carr piloted the Raiders to the postseason last year.
There were high hopes for 2022 with the hiring of McDaniels and Carr signing a lucrative contract extension. But Las Vegas has been just another overhyped AFC West team that failed to live up to expectations. And now, the allegedly cash-poor Raiders have apparently decided it’s cheaper to fire the quarterback than fire the coach.
Head Coach Josh McDaniels addresses the QB position. pic.twitter.com/1rdhTSsNKr— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) December 28, 2022
Carr is not sticking around for this circus. He has left the team, with permission, to avoid being a distraction over the final two weeks of the season. Good for him. Wherever Carr lands in 2023 could be a better option than Las Vegas. Carr isn’t Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers, or Tom Brady. But how many teams have a starting quarterback right now who is clearly better than Carr? Maybe 10 or 11.
There will always be a market for someone like Carr, especially at a reasonable salary-cap figure. That could be the case if Carr is released. Regardless if he is a free agent or traded, there will be several QB-needy teams ready to take him. The New York Jets are a stable quarterback away from being a serious playoff contender. The Tennessee Titans will likely look for a replacement for Ryan Tannehill. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might have to get a successor if Brady moves on.
Those teams make the most sense but there also could be other suitors (The New England Patriots? The Indianapolis Colts? The New Orleans Saints?). Wherever Carr goes, here’s hoping that he lands with a franchise that appreciates him. He’s been a good player for most of his career. With the right pieces around him, Carr can win playoff games.
Others will value Carr. Even if the Raiders don’t.