It’s feeling like an annual tradition now, but it’s the time of year when Derek Carr’s Las Vegas Raiders future is in question. However, it feels more realistic than ever that the team will finally make a change. The team is 6-9 this season and Carr has not played well in the last few games when they needed him most.
On the season, some of his stats are decent. He’s 11th in passing yards, eighth in touchdown passes and 14th in QBR. He’s also 30th in completion percentage and leads the league with 14 interceptions so not all stats work in his favor. With the season on the line against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Carr led the offense to just 10 points and threw three interceptions. It was one of the worst performances of his career.
This has led to much debate regarding his future with the team. The Raiders have given Carr nine years as the starting quarterback but he has yet to win a playoff game. Now, it’s not fair to put that all on him. He’s had several different head coaches and playcallers in his career. The team has also never put a great defense around him, having never finished better than the 20th-ranked scoring defense in the NFL throughout his career. Whatever the Raiders decide to do, it’s going to be a tough decision.
What’s the Alternative to Carr?
The biggest argument in favor of keeping Carr is that there might not be a better quarterback available. Some fans could point to Tom Brady being a free agent and possibly interested in Las Vegas, but his numbers aren’t much better than Carr’s this season and he’ll be 46 when the 2023 season starts. As former longtime Raiders beat writer Jerry McDonald pointed out, there could be as many as 11 teams in the NFL that would rather have Carr than their current starting quarterback.
Fans who have followed the Raiders for the last two decades will remember the days of Andrew Walter, Aaron Brooks, JaMarcus Russell and so many other bad starting quarterbacks. Carr is the most prolific passer in team history statistically and is still one of the 15 best quarterbacks in the league. Great quarterbacks don’t simply grow on trees. Is Will Levis out of Kentucky or Anthony Richardson out of Florida going to provide an immediate upgrade if the Raiders decide to draft a quarterback? More than likely no. Is Jimmy Garoppolo dependable enough to guarantee he’d be a better fit than Carr? Absolutely not. Can the Raiders rely on Brady to be more than just a bridge quarterback for a year or two? Nope.
Letting Carr go would come with great risks and that’s something the team needs to think about deeply before moving on.
The Argument in Favor of Moving on From Carr
There’s no clear answer when discussing Carr’s future in Las Vegas. There are certainly strong arguments that he should stay but there are also reasons why a fresh start could be necessary. Obi, a popular Raiders fan on Twitter, has long been a Carr supporter but even he believes that it might just be time to move on despite everything he’s done for the team.
Sometimes there’s just a disconnect between a player and a team. The Raiders being bad for the last decade is not Carr’s fault. They were even worse the decade before he got there. However, the Raiders may need a generational quarterback talent to get out of the hole they’ve dug themselves. That’s obviously easier said than done but it’s clear the team is going nowhere fast. Why not take a swing for the fences and try to find the next Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes? The worst thing that can happen is that the team keeps missing the playoffs, which has happened every year over the past two decades outside of two seasons that ended with a first-round exit.
The Cincinnati Bengals are a good team to look at. They had solid quarterback play for years with Andy Dalton but never came close to a Super Bowl. They moved on from him, were terrible for a season and then landed Joe Burrow. Now the team should be a perennial Super Bowl contender. The Bengals got lucky but they wouldn’t have been put in that position if they didn’t take a big swing. Perhaps it’s finally time for the Raiders and owner Mark Davis to take their big swing.