Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is about to be a free agent. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the quarterback recently decided that he will not accept any trades and will instead try his luck on the open market. While Carr isn’t a superstar, he’s still a starting-caliber passer and should have no shortage of suitors in a league where the quarterback has never been more important.
The first big QB domino of the offseason. Derek Carr wanted to speak with teams and now he will. Las Vegas moves on and is free from his contract. https://t.co/rOdBsTThG9
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 12, 2023
Top 5 Derek Carr Free Agent Team Fits
1. New Orleans Saints
Far and away the most likely candidates, the New Orleans Saints and Derek Carr feel like an inevitable pairing. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Saints and Raiders already had the framework for a Derek Carr trade, but they couldn’t figure out what to do about his contract. The Saints are well over the salary cap and would have had to do something drastic if they wanted to fit Carr’s contract on the books. Now that he’s a free agent, the team can structure the quarterback’s contract in a way that will lead to a relatively small cap number. Seeing as the Saints don’t have a realistic way to acquire a top quarterback in the NFL Draft, going after the best free agent on the market makes perfect sense.
2. Carolina Panthers
Speaking of NFC South teams that could use a quarterback, the Carolina Panthers should be right there in the mix with the Saints. According to ESPN’s Chris Mortenson, Carolina is reportedly doing their due diligence now that they have Frank Reich and Josh McCown on the coaching staff. Reich, of course, spent the majority of his time in Indianapolis working with veteran quarterbacks, so that trend could continue in Carolina. However, the main reason Reich resorted to aging quarterbacks is that the Colts never had a top-10 pick. The Panthers currently have the ninth-overall pick in the draft, and it would probably be better for the organization as a whole if they invested in a younger passer with a higher ceiling.
On ESPN, Chris Mortensen says with Frank Reich and Josh McCown in Carolina, QB Derek Carr could emerge with the Panthers. “Could be some synergy there,” says Mort. pic.twitter.com/px8M34U0O9
— John Ellis (@1PantherPlace) February 12, 2023
3. New York Jets
The New York Jets appear to be all-in on Aaron Rodgers, but if he decides to retire after his trek into darkness, then Derek Carr is easily the best option left on the table. New York has a strong roster, led by a young, talented defense and a great wide receiver duo in Garrett Wilson and Elijah Moore. This roster nearly made it to the playoffs despite Zach Wilson’s poor play sabotaging the team at every turn, and it stands to reason that they could make a decent playoff push if they got a starting-caliber quarterback like Carr. With or without Carr, the AFC East should be a battlefield next year, so the Jets will need a strong quarterback to compete with the Bills, Dolphins, and Patriots.
4. Atlanta Falcons
Every single team in the NFC South needs quarterbacks. While reports indicate that the Buccaneers are likely to go for a cost-effective starter, the Falcons will likely want to go after Carr. The team has the cap space to outbid everyone for his services, and if money is all that matters, then perhaps Carr lands here. However, the roster is a hot mess, and Carr would probably want to spend the final years of his career playing for a team with a better chance of turning it around in the next couple years. Despite their 7-10 record, the Falcons need help at just about every position. On top of that, much like the Panthers, the Falcons would probably be better off using their early draft pick on a quarterback, rather than hitching their wagon to a good-but-not-great option in Carr.
5. Washington Commanders
The Washington Commanders find themselves in an uncomfortable situation. At 8-8-1, they’re not good enough to be serious contenders, but they’re not bad enough to get a top pick in the NFL Draft. This unfortunate combination means they’ll probably have to settle for a veteran quarterback once again, and Carr is easily the best one on the market. This team has talent and a solid coach, so it shouldn’t take much to put them in the playoff hunt next year.
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