• Carolina Panthers: Over the last five seasons, the Panthers rank 31st in team passing grade (56.0), 28th in big-time throw rate (3.4%), 29th in turnover-worthy play rate (4.3%) and 27th in adjusted completion percentage (23.1%).
• New York Jets: After trading a king’s ransom to draft Sam Darnold in 2018 and using the No. 2 overall pick on Zach Wilson — a choice that right now looks like one of the worst in league history — just years later, the Jets are probably very willing to try to veteran approach this time around.
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After longtime quarterback Derek Carr was benched and effectively sent home for the final two games of the Las Vegas Raiders‘ season, the writing was on the wall that the veteran would be playing elsewhere in 2023 and beyond.
— Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) January 12, 2023
Carr’s situation is a perfect example of how NFL contracts can tell a story, as his “extension” signed this past offseason may ultimately end up as a $5 million raise for 2022 and nothing more.
Most cap experts agreed the structure of the contract suggested that it was in no way a long-term commitment to Carr, and here we are.
Nevertheless, a trade market is still likely to develop, as there are enough teams desperate for a quality starting quarterback — which Carr certainly is. And the veteran quarterback securing a no-trade clause was the most important get for him in the deal, as he can now have the final say in his next NFL home, a power he’s expected to wield.
So, what could a deal for Carr look like, and where could he end up?
Contract situation and trade value
The 31-year-old signal-caller has three years remaining on his deal at a total of $116.3 million ($38.77 million per year), with the breakdown as follows:
- 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
The $32.9 million salary in 2023 and $7.5 million of the 2024 base salary become fully guaranteed on Feb. 15, 2023, creating a narrow window for the Raiders to find Carr a landing spot he approves.
However, as we’ve seen in recent offseasons with quarterbacks such as Matthew Stafford, these deals can get agreed to in principle just days after the Super Bowl.
Other teams — and Carr — will certainly have leverage, given the Raiders’ desire to get the money off the books as soon as possible, but it may not be as difficult as some seem to think. Of course, there is the possibility Carr gets released if no deal can be reached, but losing a quarterback for nothing would be horrible business for the Raiders, so the odds are they’ll take a solid offer if one comes across their desk.
We recently projected the value of such a trade at a first- and third-round pick, and it may take multiple suitors driving up the price to ultimately land there. Otherwise, it could be cheaper.
A second-round pick probably has to be on the table, with Carson Wentz getting moved for a first- and third-round pick two offseasons ago and two third-round picks this past offseason. Carr has been much better than Wentz over the past three to four years, even coming off one of the worst seasons of his career in 2022.
Ignoring the letdown in 2022, here’s how Carr performed from 2019 to 2021:
|Player||PFF passing grade||Big-time throw rate||Turnover-worthy play rate||Yards per attempt|
|Derek Carr||86.3 (9th)||5.4% (7th)||2.9% (14th)||7.8 (10th)|
Potential landing spots
Carr performed at around a top-10 level from 2019-21 and will be just 32 years old in 2023, which isn’t old in today’s NFL by any means. Plenty of teams would love to have the 2019-21 version of Carr in the fold. So, where are the best fits?
Carolina has the ninth overall pick in the upcoming 2023 Draft, perhaps too low to land one of the three top prospects in Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Kentucky’s Will Levis without an expensive trade-up.
Carolina has tried — and failed — at acquiring veteran quarterbacks to fill the massive void left by former starter Cam Newton but could maybe take one more shot on a known commodity different from the likes of Sam Darnold.
Carolina gave up a second-round pick and more for Darnold, which the Raiders will certainly remind them of if trade talks do occur.
Over the last five seasons, the Panthers rank 31st in team passing grade (56.0), 28th in big-time throw rate (3.4%), 29th in turnover-worthy play rate (4.3%) and 27th in adjusted completion percentage (73.1%).
That's about as bad as it gets. Carr represents a huge upgrade over what they’ve had under center since 2018.
Carolina does have former Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral in the fold after they traded up in the 2022 Draft to select him, but he unfortunately got injured before the season and missed out on an opportunity to get some NFL experience when the Panthers began playing musical chairs at quarterback once it was clear their season was going nowhere.
Corral likely doesn’t preclude them from doing anything at the position, whether that be this trade or moving up in the draft.
With rumors swirling that the Raiders may make a run at Tom Brady this offseason, this may amount to a swap of quarterbacks between the two teams.
We don’t yet know if Brady will retire or if he’s willing to return to Tampa, but it seems like this is his last year with the team, though a strong playoff run can always change things. After all, why would Brady leave the QB-devoid NFC for an AFC where Kansas City Chiefs phenom Patrick Mahomes is the oldest starting quarterback out of seven playoff contenders?
Let’s say Brady does leave. This Buccaneers team is still built to win right now. They just signed wide receiver Chris Godwin to a three-year, $60 million extension, signed free agent wide receiver Russell Gage to a three-year, $30 million deal, and of course, have franchise legend Mike Evans in the fold (2023 is the last year of his current contract).
Carr would step into a great situation, with a better defense than any he’s ever had with the Raiders and with an offensive line that, once healthy, will also stack up against any he’s had before.
This would obviously represent a downgrade from the greatest quarterback ever to play the game, but Tampa could do a lot worse. And it doesn’t seem like they want just to tear everything down, which is their other option.
While they used a second-round pick in 2021 on former Florida quarterback Kyle Trask, Trask hasn’t yet been able to unseat Blaine Gabbert as Brady’s backup, which likely doesn’t bode well for his future.
After trading a king’s ransom to draft Sam Darnold in 2018 at No. 3 overall and using the No. 2 overall pick on Zach Wilson — a pick that right now looks like one of the worst in league history — just years later, the Jets are probably very willing to try to veteran approach this time around.
The Jets have the lowest PFF passing grade in the NFL since 2018, and now with one of the league’s best young defenses and a quality group of young pass-catchers led by potential Offensive Rookie of the Year in wide receiver Garrett Wilson, acquiring a high-floor veteran like Carr makes too much sense.
If this 2022 version of the Jets had Carr under center, they probably win 10-plus games and are preparing for a wild-card matchup this weekend.
Other potential landing spots
Houston Texans: The Texans, who maybe don’t fall in love with this year’s draft prospects, are a familiar organization to Carr, given that his brother David played as their quarterback from 2022-2006.
However, for obvious reasons, Carr may nix a trade to Houston. Beyond all the non-football reasons, Texans general manager Nick Caserio is close with Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler. So, this doesn’t look like a fit.
Washington Commanders: Washington is another team not picking early enough to draft one of the top prospects — a purgatory they’ve navigated for years — and clearly in need of a new signal-caller. However, Washington has already taken a shot on veterans Alex Smith (which didn’t work out because of a horrific injury) and Carson Wentz. Nevertheless, maybe Carr once again embraces the role of playing for a once-proud franchise that has fallen on tough times and a fanbase starved for something to root for on Sundays.
New Orleans Saints: The Saints continue to be unrealistic with where their roster actually stands, trading early draft picks away like candy and missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons. They won’t have their first-round pick in 2023 — the Philadelphia Eagles have the rights to No. 10 overall — or a second-round pick in 2024.
Still, Carr would be operating behind one of the league’s best offensive lines and throwing to one of the best rookies in the NFL in 2022 in wide receiver Chris Olave. He’s a fit in offensive Pete Carmichael’s system, which is predicated on getting the ball out quickly and matriculating down the field, with the occasional deep shot to the aforementioned Olave and an undrafted gem in Rashid Shaheed.