According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Las Vegas released its starting quarterback on Tuesday, as anticipated, before $40.4 million in his contract became guaranteed.
The move frees up $29.25 million in 2023 cap space for Las Vegas and makes Carr one of the most sought-after free agents. The Saints and Panthers are reportedly among the top teams vying for Carr’s services, but many other teams are expected to pursue him during the offseason.
The Raiders were required to release Carr before Feb. 15 to avoid guaranteeing his $32.9 million base salary for next year and $7.5 million for 2024. However, according to sources cited by The Athletic, Carr is not interested in being traded to the Saints or any other team. The Raiders gave the Saints permission to speak with Carr, and he visited the team on Feb. 8, but no deal was reached.
The Raiders were willing to be flexible on compensation, asking for a third-round pick, but no teams were willing to take on Carr’s contract. In the final two regular-season games, the Raiders benched Carr and started Jarrett Stidham to avoid injury risk, and Carr left the team to prevent causing any distraction. Last season, Carr threw for 3,522 yards, 24 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and had a 60.8 completion percentage, resulting in an 86.3 passer rating.
Although Derek Carr led the Raiders to their only two playoff appearances in the past 21 years and had 32 game-winning drives during his nine-year tenure, he remains a polarizing figure in the franchise’s history. While Carr expressed hope last week of bringing his children to a Raiders game and sharing a moment of joy in the future, he was booed by fans in his last home game in Oakland, and three years later was released by Las Vegas.
With the Raiders falling short of expectations last season, keeping a nine-year starting quarterback came at a high cost, prompting owner Mark Davis and the new regime of Ziegler and McDaniels to part ways with Carr. The Raiders must now decide whether to trade for a veteran QB, sign a free agent, or draft a new franchise quarterback in the first round.
Carr’s performance was limited by some terrible draft picks from the previous two regimes. Ultimately, Ziegler’s draft selections in the next few years will be more critical than his choice of a new quarterback this spring. Carr was able to force the Raiders’ hand because of his no-trade clause, which was included in the three-year contract extension he signed last year by the current regime.
With 11 draft picks at their disposal, including compensatory picks in March, the Raiders have the resources to move up the draft board through a trade. Although not receiving any assets for Carr wasn’t the best, the Raiders can redeem themselves if they find and acquire a high-performing quarterback this offseason. Whether that’s before or after the draft is left to be seen.
While it’s not a certainty, they have plenty of resources to make that happen. However, Raiders fans don’t want a repeat of the 2019 NFL draft where the Raiders traded away a plethora of talent to secure three 1st round picks. 4th over Clelin Ferrell did not live up to the hype. Nor did Johnathan Abram. Josh Jacobs had an all-pro year in 2022 but is now an upcoming free agent.