Former Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is one of the hottest commodities on the free agent market, but recent reports indicate that the Panthers will not be signing the four-time Pro Bowler. According to ESPN’s David Newton, while the Panthers have visited with Carr, it’s mostly been out of due diligence. Carolina is likely to sign a cheaper veteran quarterback and address the long-term future of the position via the 2023 NFL Draft.
While the Panthers are meeting with Derek Carr in Indianapolis, their focus is more on mid-level (salary-wise) veteran quarterbacks. They already have had preliminary discussions with representatives of Sam Darnold, per sources. Darnold makes sense if they plan to draft a QB.
— David Newton (@DNewtonespn) March 1, 2023
Report: Carolina Panthers Unlikely to Sign Derek Carr
This report makes plenty of sense for a whole bunch of reasons. Derek Carr is a fine quarterback and he might be good enough to be the missing piece for an otherwise-talented roster, but he’s not going to single-handedly transform a league-average roster into Super Bowl contenders. The Carolina Panthers have a few impressive young players, but this team is still a ways away from serious contention. Carr might be good enough to get this team to nine wins, which might be enough to take the NFC South crown. However, all that would do is lead to a Wild Card round massacre mirroring the 2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Additionally, signing Carr effectively means that the team would not be drafting a quarterback in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. After all, Carr is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, so why would you give Carr $35 million per year if you’re not going to surround him with the players required to win a title? Certain teams picking in the back half of the first round can make that sacrifice, but the Panthers have a top-10 pick. The 2023 quarterback draft class has plenty of intriguing players that could develop into franchise stars, and the Panthers would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to grab somebody like Anthony Richardson.
The Carolina Panthers need a quarterback, so Carolina’s front office was wise to do their due diligence on Derek Carr. However, now that said evaluation is complete, the Panthers are making the right choice to go with a cheap veteran quarterback like Sam Darnold while drafting their eventual heir to Cam Newton.
Which Teams Are Left?
With the Panthers out of the picture, the New Orleans Saints and New York Jets remain the two most likely fits for Derek Carr. On paper, the Jets are the perfect fit, as they found a way to go 7-10 despite having the worst quarterback situation in the league. Replacing Zach Wilson with a league-average passer like Carr should be enough to add a few extra wins, and they could even take the AFC East crown if the Buffalo Bills stumble. The biggest hurdle to a deal, ironically, is Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers recently completed his darkness venture, but as of this posting, the quarterback has not publicly stated if he intends on playing in 2023. If he does, the Jets will likely move heaven and earth to bring him to New York. If not, the team will probably settle for Derek Carr.
The New Orleans Saints are not title contenders, but they still continue to operate as if they’re in the final years of the Drew Brees Era. Currently holding the 30th-overall pick in the NFL Draft, the Saints don’t have a realistic shot at a top quarterback prospect, so Carr is their best option. However, with all the holes on the roster, their best-case scenario is a nine-win team and an early playoff exit. Still, the Saints have shown tons of interest in Carr, and perhaps their impressive NFLPA survey ranking will help sell the quarterback on a move to New Orleans.
While it’s not likely, the Buccaneers could also be in the running. The team appears to be all-in on Kyle Trask, but it sure wouldn’t hurt to get a better veteran on the roster.
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