According to rumors across the league, the New Orleans Saints are the current favorites to trade for Derek Carr. Carr, of course, spent the majority of the past decade with the Las Vegas Raiders, but will be joining a new team in the coming weeks. The Saints clearly need a quarterback, but is Carr the answer to their problems?
Why the Saints Should (And Shouldn’t) Trade For Derek Carr
Why They Should
Quarterback is the most important position in the game, and Derek Carr would immediately be the best option on the roster. Andy Dalton is set to hit free agency, and Jameis Winston is more likely to be cut than be the starting quarterback in 2023. The team found a way to go 7-10 with Dalton leading the way for the majority of the season, so it stands to reason they can win more games with a better quarterback like Carr.
Additionally, while Carr might not turn this team into a Super Bowl contender all by himself, the Saints would be the favorites to win a very bad NFC South with Carr under center. Now that Tom Brady is officially retired, all four NFC South teams are searching for answers at quarterback, and none of the rosters are all that special. 8-9 might be enough to win this division for the second consecutive season, and Carr is definitely good enough to win eight games with this team.
Carr is also quite easily the best veteran option available. Assuming the Ravens, Giants, and Seahawks use the franchise tag on their respective quarterbacks, the best passers available will be Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett, and Baker Mayfield. Carr isn’t capable of elite play, but he’s consistently proven himself to be a top-20 quarterback, which is more than any free agent quarterbacks can say.
Why They Shouldn’t
In case you hadn’t noticed, the New Orleans Saints do not have much in terms of cap space. As of this posting, the team needs to shed over $57 million from its payroll just to get under the current salary cap. The bill has finally come due for going all-in during the end of the Drew Brees Era, and there comes a time where New Orleans cannot simply keep pushing off the consequences of their actions.
Trading for Derek Carr also means trading for his $33 million cap hit in 2023, and it only gets worse from there. Even if the Saints try to restructure Carr’s deal, they’re only making it worse for themselves in the long run.
If a team were to trade for Derek Carr, here is what it would owe him on his current deal:
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
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 12, 2023
The Saints could justify taking on Carr’s contract if they were a quarterback away from competing for a Super Bowl. However, even with Carr, the team just isn’t good enough to be Super Bowl contenders for another few seasons. The offensive line is one of the worst in the league, Chris Olave is the only noteworthy offensive weapon, and the defense, while solid, lacks depth at key positions and isn’t good enough to carry this team to a title – especially if they need to let guys like Marcus Davenport walk in free agency in order to pay Carr.
The Saints will need time to rebuild this roster, and that doesn’t mesh with the timeframe of 31-year-old Carr. While some quarterbacks are capable of elite play into their late 30’s, the Saints shouldn’t just assume that Carr will still be a good quarterback in 3-4 years. As is it, the quarterback showed signs of slowing down in 2022, and that could get worse as he ages. Basically, there’s no guarantee that Carr and the rest of the Saints roster will be good at the same time.
Ultimately, Carr might be the best quarterback available to New Orleans, but the promise of mid-level quarterback play isn’t enough to offset all the negatives that come with his contract and the Saints current financial woes.
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