It may feel like deja vu from the last offseason, but it’s not. The Las Vegas Raiders are rumored to want to move on from quarterback Derek Carr and those rumors likely won’t go away until after the draft. Despite improving from 2018 to 2019, a lot of fans have soured on Carr. His tendency to play overly safe has drawn the ire from many.
While Jon Gruden has said publicly many times that he likes Carr, he hasn’t shut down any of the rumors. That has led to a lot of speculation that the team is thinking about making a change. Former Raiders team executive during Gruden’s first stint with the team Michael Lombardi wrote in The Athletic that he believes that a change is coming:
“Meanwhile the Raiders, for all their messages about loving Carr, have been working behind the scenes to find a replacement. I have written several times about the disconnect between Carr and Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and this quarterback market is too tempting for Gruden to ignore. Carr has trade value, which is why everyone from the Raiders always says beautiful things about his future when speaking publicly. But Carr has no future in Las Vegas and Gruden will do everything in his power to fix the position. Will Brady entertain Vegas? It’s hard for me to see Gruden and Brady co-existing even though both men have a competitive drive. The Raiders’ offensive line would be appealing to Brady, but would he be willing to run the West Coast offense after so many years in his offense? Call me skeptical.”
Based on what Lombardi wrote, it sounds like he’s pretty certain that the team is done with Carr. However, it’s likely that Gruden hasn’t even made his mind up yet. With free agency not opening up until March 18, it’s going to be a while before we know for sure if the team is interested in finding Carr’s replacement.
Raiders to Target Tannehill?
If the Raiders were to make a change, most have linked the team to future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, but as Lombardi noted, it’s unlikely that the quarterback is going to want to learn a new offense after 20 years in a different offense. The former NFL executive believes the team could look to the 2019 NFL Comeback Player of the Year:
“I could see the Raiders making a move for Ryan Tannehill if the Titans do not franchise him. Tannehill would give Gruden the athlete he covets at the position, a player capable of making something out of nothing when the play breaks down. Would Tannehill serve as a good bridge player? Yes, though that’s nothing to get too excited about in the long term, because to beat the Chiefs and Mahomes in the AFC West, Gruden is going to need to find his elite player of the future, not just a bridge.”
Tannehill gets a bad wrap because of his stint in Miami, but his numbers have never been terrible. He was hampered by injuries towards the end of his time with the Dolphins, which hurt his value. However, he proved that he still can be one of the better game managers in the NFL when he’s healthy and has a good team around him. There’s no denying that Tannehill had a career year in 2019, but it remains to be seen if he’d be a better option than Carr. Lombardi notes that Tannehill would serve as a “bridge player.” If that’s the case, why not just let Carr serve that role while they develop a younger prospect? It doesn’t seem wise to make a change for the sake of making a change when the team is so close to playoff contention.
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Not Many Teams Are Truly Happy About Their QB Situation
While the Raiders make their decision on Carr, they need to remember that there are very few teams that are very happy with their long-term quarterback situations. The Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs are probably the only teams that feel like they’ve got an elite franchise quarterback for the next decade. The Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens may also feel that way, but it’s not as clear.
That leaves 27 other teams that either probably feels like they can upgrade the position or they need to start grooming a replacement for their aging quarterback. Quarterback isn’t an exact science. It’s very hard to find a decent one and almost impossible to find an elite one. There are even people calling for Jimmy Garoppolo’s job and he just led his team to the Super Bowl.
It’s easy to say that the Raiders should draft Justin Herbert or Jordan Love and all of a sudden, they can compete with Mahomes and the Chiefs. However, that’s not how it works. No, Carr isn’t perfect and he’s never going to be better than Mahomes, but he’s at least a top-15 quarterback in the NFL. That’s not to say that the Raiders shouldn’t try to upgrade, but it is saying that they should tread very lightly before they decide to make a change.