Five potential landing spots for Raiders QB Derek Carr in 2023 originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Derek Carr has seemingly bid his farewell to the Raiders.
The nine-year NFL veteran, who spent every season in Oakland and later Las Vegas, gave the fanbase and organization a parting note on Thursday.
“It breaks my heart I didn't get an opportunity to say goodbye in person,” he wrote. “... I look forward to a new city and a new team who, no matter the circumstance, will get everything I have.”
Though it’s unclear if Carr, who was benched for Las Vegas’ last two games, will void the no-trade clause in his contract to move on or if the Raiders will outright cut him, let’s take a look at five destinations that could make sense for the former Fresno State product, regardless of how he parks there:
The Saints haven’t had that guy since Drew Brees retired. Jameis Winston showed some signs of life, but injuries have prevented him from capitalizing on his solid, non-interception form. Head coach Dennis Allen won’t want 35-year-old Andy Dalton as his long-term starter, and Taysom Hill is still more of a utility player than he is a signal caller.
If Carr comes in, he’ll likely have a healthy weapons core of Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas and Chris Olave. Jarvis Landry could return after his New Orleans stint was cut short due to injury. Why New Orleans makes even more sense is it doesn’t have a draft pick until the second round. Maybe a trade up could materialize, but they don’t really have the caliber of asset that could net them a pick in the Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud range.
For all of Carr’s notable shortcomings, the Saints could do worse heading into 2023 with him driving the offense.
The Steelers are similar to the Saints in the sense that they haven’t found their next franchise QB since the departure of a team icon. For New Orleans, it was Brees, for Pittsburgh it was Ben Roethlisberger. Granted, Big Ben just left this past season, but rookie Kenny Pickett hasn’t done much to impress Mike Tomlin, throwing five touchdowns to nine picks thus far.
Unlike the Saints, Pittsburgh does have a first-round pick that should fall somewhere in the middle of the pack. Would the Steelers opt for another QB in back-to-back first rounds or would they address another position instead? Considering they stayed in the postseason hunt until Week 17 without a legit QB is promising.
The Commanders are similar to the Steelers in the sense that they stayed within striking distance of a playoff spot despite the carousel involving Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke. There’s no guarantee that wouldn’t occur again if Carr was on board in 2023, but we know Ron Rivera likes to do his homework in situations like this.
Washington is also preparing to have a mid-to-late first-round pick, where a QB may or may not make sense depending on availability. Wentz and Heinicke haven’t been appalling, but they don’t exactly improve the margins. Carr hasn’t necessarily been that guy with the Raiders, either, but he’s just one tier ahead of those two, and it’s often difficult to find a margin-improving QB in the NFL.
The one-two punch of Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson in the back with Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel as wideouts are not a bad group, with the defense also being among the top in 2022. A man-managing coach like Rivera could be exactly what Carr needs at this stage of his career.
There’s no way Tom Brady returns to Tampa Bay after this season, right? Right? Well, let’s just say the 45-year-old does not – in this case, he’d probably be the heavy favorite to replace Carr in Vegas. Carr could then replace Brady with the Bucs.
Tampa Bay also is headed toward a mid-to-late first-round pick with Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask as the backups. The jury is still out on 2021 second-rounder Trask, but it’s likely not a good sign that he’s behind Gabbert in the pecking order.
We can’t exactly rule out a return to Sin City. It happened this past offseason with Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers. San Francisco – very publicly – wanted to find a trade partner but couldn't do so, then ended up retaining him on a cheaper deal only for him to start once again after Trey Lance’s season-ending injury.
The difference with Vegas is that it doesn’t have a potential star QB behind the scenes unless Jarrett Stidham proves the league wrong. As much slander as Carr gets for his underperforming play, it’s hard to upgrade quarterbacks in the NFL. Davante Adams specifically wanted to get traded away from Aaron Rodgers to play with him (in hindsight, it didn’t work out too well).
Unless the Raiders land someone like Brady or a high-profile rookie with its potential top-10 first-round pick, there could be a scenario in which Carr returns on a cheaper contract, just like Garoppolo.