So, it looks, feels, and now sounds like Derek Carr is officially done with the Raiders organization. Carr has been a big part of Raider Nation since entering the NFL in 2014. Carr was benched to end the season, and just days after the 2022 campaign ended, he posted what can only be categorized as a “farewell” tweet to fans of the storied franchise.
It wasn’t long ago that Carr stated he only wanted to play for the Raiders and would rather stay home if he couldn’t. How quickly things change, and just one year after making the playoffs, Carr is forced to think about his future outside the Raiders facility in Las Vegas. Let’s not forget how much drama circulated around the ‘21 campaign following the Jon Gruden email scandal. Carr led the Raiders to their first (and only) playoff appearance of his tenure.
How will Carr be remembered?
If the Carr era is indeed over in Las Vegas, he’ll go down as one of the best quarterbacks in franchise history, statistically. In some categories, he is the best the Raiders have ever produced. Carr is the leader in TDs, passing yards, and completion percentage for the Raiders. Ken Stabler is the closest in TD passes (150), with Daryle Lamonica and Rich Gannon following as the only other Raiders to reach 100 TD passes with the team.
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While the former second-round pick from Fresno State has put up some respectable accumulative numbers, he trails far behind his predecessors when it comes to accolades and accomplishments. Stabler is a Hall of Famer, Lamonica a two-time All-Pro, and Gannon a league MVP. In fact, Gannon accomplished more than Carr in three fewer years with the team. Gannon was also a two-time All-Pro, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, and led the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl XXXVII. (Additionally, Jim Plunkett — who has thrown for the fifth-most yards and sixth-most TDs in franchise history — won two rings with the Raiders in the 1980s).
It’s like the LeBron James-Michael Jordan debate. No, I’m not calling Carr either of these guys, so let’s simmer down. Carr’s hold on many of the franchise passing records — attempts, completions, yards, TDs — is based on longevity, like James in the NBA. James played so much longer than Jordan and many other legends that he’ll hold a lot of the most important records in NBA history when he finally retires. Aside from Stabler, Carr played longer in a Raider uniform than many other QBs. And in the era he plays in, he should own most of the franchise’s records. But that doesn’t make him the best.
Overall production is what it came down to for Carr. He couldn’t get this team over the hump, which isn’t all his fault. But when you’re the franchise QB, you get most of the praise when things go well, then all the blame when the team struggles. It’s the nature of the beast and what you sign up for as an NFL QB.
One playoff game in nine years isn’t what makes a Hall of Fame career. The Raiders qualified for the postseason in 2016, but Carr missed that wildcard game due to an injury. Those other all-time great Raider QBs had multiple playoff wins and deep runs in the postseason. Under Carr, that hasn’t been the case.
The relationship between Carr and the fan base has often been mixed based on his up-and-down performances. Indeed, some are sad to see him go, but many others have been calling for this move for a while. Carr still has much left in the tank for another team, but his best years could be behind him. Carr is a top 20 QB at worst and more likely in the top 15.
Looking ahead… Could Carr end up in New York?
There will be suitors — perhaps the New York Jets or the Indianapolis Colts, who have recently kept turning to veteran QBs — but it’s doubtful any organization will trade assets to acquire Carr. The Raiders need to decide before Feb. 15 on Derek’s fate. Otherwise, he’s owed $40 million in guarantees on his contract. But they can’t technically trade him until Mar. 15, when the new league year begins. So, it’s almost certain owner Mark Davis will release Carr within the next few weeks to avoid paying him.
Wherever Carr lands, hopefully, it’ll be a better situation regarding how the organization is run. The Raiders have been a mess for years and were long before Carr arrived. Now Carr can move on with his career and possibly have a resurgence. Meanwhile, the Raiders will pick up the pieces and begin the search for their future at the QB position.