Raiders fans had a miserable Sunday afternoon. The hated Kansas City Chiefs won another Super Bowl, and all the while Raiders fans were going back and forth over Derek Carr on social media. Twitter was turbulent and people were very angry.
The Raiders screwed up again.
Carr is a traitor.
How do the Chiefs only get walkable touchdowns?
Carr served as quarterback for the Raiders for nine years and decided Sunday to reveal he would not accept a trade with the Saints. He won’t agree to any team in a trade, but let’s be honest – the Saints were the only team to agree to a framework deal and invited Carr to visit last week.
So the Raiders will be cutting Carr over the next few days to avoid being on the hook for $40.4 million guaranteed Wednesday at 1 p.m. Pacific Time.
The Raiders regime finds a new quarterback and Carr gets a fresh start. Not only that, he will also be the first quarterback to enter the free-agent market.
Everyone should be happy, right? Especially the Raiders fans, who put the team’s 63-79 record on him and have long wanted Carr gone. You just unlocked $29 million in salary cap!
Raiders’ Derek Carr won’t accept a trade
Instead, some fans are upset that Carr didn’t accept a trade and got the Raiders back a draft pick. Or that he won’t retire because he once said he wouldn’t play for anyone but the Raiders. (Assuming they didn’t bench him, right?)
Other fans are angrier that the Raiders will lose a top-15 quarterback — one who will certainly sign and start for another team — and receive no compensation for him. Normally I would agree. The Raiders have consistently failed in two decades of losing, with new general managers, new coaches and new players coming and going.
(But please, fans, don’t spend your hard-earned money and then bring signs into the stadium criticizing the owner or the coach. You’ll get kicked out for making that mistake.)
In this case, however, I don’t see what the Raiders could have done differently with Carr. Ideally, Josh McDaniels and Carr would have had a real connection, and offense would have skyrocketed with Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs having All-Pro seasons. But that didn’t happen. The Raiders were 6-11.
Hey, people get divorced all the time. People get fired or quit their jobs all the time. Maybe not with the backlash on both sides on Twitter, but walking away is always an option.
And how we got here is pretty simple:
General Manager Dave Ziegler and McDaniels saw the film and decided they wanted to give Carr a try. There have been some really good moments in the last eight seasons. They said so owner Mark Davis and the Raiders gave Carr a contract extension.
They wanted a way out in case it didn’t work. A new regime that commits itself unconditionally to a now 31-year-old quarterback that it hasn’t been fully sold to doesn’t make much sense. And that’s where February 15 comes in. In exchange for the exit, Carr wanted a no-trade clause. If the offense lived up to expectations, all this stuff is moot.
Could the Raiders Carr have traded mid-season?
They weren’t ready to pull the plug on November 1, the close of trading. Even after being ruled out by the Saints to drop to 2-5, Ziegler hoped McDaniels and Carr would get on the same page and that the team would start winning the tight games it was losing.
I cannot fault this logic. And no Raiders coach, player, or fan would want a team to trade for Adams and then say they need a mulligan after seven games.
The Raiders then lost two more close games to the Jaguars and Colts before winning three games in a row to go 5-7. Carr never really looked comfortable, however, and next week’s 17-16 loss to the Rams may have sealed his fate.
McZieg benched Carr for the final two games of the season in favor of Jarrett Stidham because there’s no reason to risk $40 million of the boss’s money on a possible injury. As a result, they lost any leverage to complete a trade last month because the teams knew the Raiders would not be returning to Carr. His era was over and the Raiders would cut him if no trading partner was found.
There has been talk of the Raiders and Carr working together to find a trading partner because it was mutually beneficial. But they didn’t trust each other enough to do that. Carr wanted to speak to all teams and see who would be willing to revise their contract before the deadline, but the Raiders figured he was just drafting his future free-agent deal.
Who should replace Derek Carr? Raiders have multiple options to explore
One could argue that the Raiders have nothing to lose by cutting him anyway. But the Raiders found a trading partner and would have gotten a draft pick if the Saints and Carr had had similar contract ideas. They didn’t. (Or maybe Carr will eventually sign with the Saints.)
So Carr leaves and the Raiders “just” take a $5.6 million cap hit. And it will be fascinating to see what he gets on the open market. A handful of teams really need a quarterback. The Raiders, meanwhile, took a year-long shot at $31 million with Carr and now they want their own guy. And that’s fair too.
Both sides could take the highway, but dirty laundry has been aired out – and there’s more to come. Neither side can help him.
It’s been leaked that Carr wasn’t strong enough to hang in the bag or play well in cold weather. And he’s certainly missed a few shots this season.
As for the Raiders, they didn’t let Carr roam the line of scrimmage as freely as he did under Jon Gruden and Rich Bisaccia. And there were communication problems.
Carr said that himself at the Pro Bowl two weekends ago – he was finally able to say goodbye at Allegiant Stadium. He said he’d only publish his take in a post-career book… but again, he can’t help summing up his nine rocky years under six coaches and this season:
“I say that depending on who the coach was and all those things, they definitely let me know how they felt,” Carr told reporters. “Although there was speculation, I was never overly concerned about it because I knew where I stood.
“Now this situation was different, and it is what it is. We’ll both continue and I think it’s good for everyone.”
Carr certainly knows where he is now, and he’s exiting the franchise as the all-time passing leader with 35,222 passing yards, 217 touchdowns and 99 interceptions in nine seasons.
Could he have played better this season? No doubt. So the scapegoat label doesn’t really work.
Could Carr have asked for more from the franchise? No doubt. While the Raiders will have given him $142 million in the end, they also gave him six coaches, a mountain of bad draft picks and free-agent commitments, and the statistically worst defense in the league in his nine-year career here.
But that’s all in the rearview mirror now. Divorces are usually good for everyone but the kids, and it’s time for Raiders fans to grow up and look to the future. This situation was almost inevitable and there really was no trading out of it.
(Top Photo by Derek Carr: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)