Getting suplexed by the lowly Steelers and Kenny Pickett on Sunday Night Football finally broke the spell Derek Carr has on the Raiders. On Wednesday, Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels decided to bench the Raiders’ starting quarterback of the last nine years for the final two weeks of the regular season. Jarrett Stidham’s promotion is temporary, but Carr’s demotion isn’t an attempt to keep Carr fresh for 2023 either. Derek Carr’s Silver and Black Raider days are numbered.
Carr’s $40.4 million in injury guarantees that become fully vested if he can’t pass a physical before the third day of the 2023 waiver period, give the Raiders a clear incentive to jettison his salary off their books. Mark Davis being one of the poorest owners in the NFL further incentivizes the Raiders to search elsewhere for their dream quarterback. Maybe it winds up being Trey Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo or Tom Brady. Carr being the Raiders highly-compensated quarterback for a decade is the height of procrastination.
Early in his career, it became apparent he wasn’t a franchise quarterback, but a career year in 2016 earned him more time to prove himself. In a league where franchise quarterbacks are expected to contend for Super Bowls, Carr’s ceiling was the Wild Card Round and he repeatedly bumped his head against that low bar.
As early as 2018, when the underutilized Amari Cooper was catapulted to Dallas midseason, confidence in Carr was beginning to bottom out. Reportedly, Dana White attempted to secure a deal that would have gotten Brady under center for the Raiders before the 2020 season. Derek Carr has since insisted he wasn’t the mothafucker Brady referred to on HBO’s The Shop, and now he’s no longer the Raiders’ starting quarterback.
For the past four seasons, Carr has kept his head barely above sea level, but the franchise’s desperation goggles prevented them from seeing the truth. Down the stretch to Vegas’ 2021 season, Carr was a prolific deep ball passer, but at the expense of being a turnover machine.
Last January, Carr’s red zone interception in their Wild Card matchup against the Bengals halted their tumultuous 2021 campaign. After the Raiders brought Carr’s favorite Fresno State target Davante Adams to Vegas did the reality begin to coagulate. Simultaneously, Carr was awarded a three-year, $121.5 million extension and the expectation was that he and Adams would form one of the league’s most dynamic duos.
After what I saw in Week 1, I was ready to put a stake in Carr. He repeatedly underthrew receivers downfield, made countless mistakes and never displayed the command of a purported franchise quarterback. The Raiders didn’t seem to realize the AFC West is a Patrick Mahomes-Justin Herbert duopoly and Carr is closer to Russell Wilson’s basement floor than the other two gilded signal callers in his division. Carr is the caliber of quarterback who requires ideal conditions to thrive or else he presents as an average schlub who plays up or down to the level of his competition, but can’t elevate his co-stars to an elite level.
Low expectations in the past shielded Carr from excessive scrutiny, but the 2022 crucible was instructive. Carr is in his last days with the Raiders. Good riddance to bad rubbish.