By all indications, new Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels likes Derek Carr. The quarterback is due for a contract extension this offseason and there’s a strong chance he gets one. However, there are a lot of teams in the NFL right now that desperately need a quarterback.
While the Raiders would be one of those teams if they trade Carr, avoiding a contract that will take up around $40 million a year in salary cap space and gaining a haul of draft picks might be appealing to the new staff. With so many teams needing a quarterback, Las Vegas could take advantage of a seller’s market. The Pittsburgh Steelers might be the most desperate team of all. Ben Roethlisberger is headed for retirement and they don’t have a clear replacement in-house.
The Steelers have a roster that’s ready to win now. They have good weapons on offense and an elite defense. All they need is a quarterback. In a recent mock draft at Pro Football Focus, the outlet predicted that Pittsburgh will send the Raiders a 2022 first-round pick, a 2023 first-round pick and a 2022 third-round pick for Carr:
Las Vegas trading veteran quarterback Derek Carr became an increasingly unlikely scenario when the team hired Josh McDaniels to be its next head coach this offseason, but the Steelers could ultimately make an offer the Raiders’ brass can’t refuse. Pittsburgh’s roster is in a better position to win with Carr than Las Vegas’ squad, as evidenced by their playoff berth with the version of Ben Roethlisberger (PFF’s 33rd-ranked quarterback) we all witnessed this past season.
The Raiders, on the other hand, are in desperate need of upgrades at receiver, four positions along the offensive line, linebacker and cornerback before their roster is even considered in the top half of the league. Fully committing to a rebuild with a wealth of first-round picks should be the preferred option over signing Carr to a $40 million per year contract with a roster lacking talent at premium positions.
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Raiders Draft Desmond Ridder in This Scenario
In PFF’s mock draft prediction, they also had the Raiders drafting Carr’s replacement with the No. 20 overall pick acquired from the Steelers. With the pick, Las Vegas would select Desmond Ridder out of Cincinnati:
If McDaniels and the Raiders do pull the trigger on the Carr trade, starting their search for the quarterback of the future with Ridder could make sense for both parties. The Cincinnati signal-caller has received the “pro-ready” label from several draft analysts because of his significant experience and growth with the Bearcats, culminating in a 90.7 overall grade in 2021 (16th in FBS).
Ridder is certainly an interesting prospect. He’s tall at 6-foot-3 and has a strong arm. He’s also a good athlete who can make plays with his feet. However, he does suffer from accuracy issues and his size outside of his height leaves a bit to be desired. As PFF noted, he’s about as pro-ready as any quarterback in the draft so the Raiders would likely draft him to take over as the starter in this scenario.
Raiders Would Have to Consider the Proposed Offer From Pittsburgh
The quarterback position was a nightmare for the Raiders from when Rich Gannon retired in 2004 up until Carr got drafted in 2014. It’s not easy to find a franchise quarterback and taking a chance on a rookie is a big risk. That said, two first-round picks and a third for a quarterback seeking a massive payday might be too good of an offer to refuse.
It really depends on what McDaniels expects from the team in his first couple of years. If he’s planning on being a playoff team in 2022 and then start competing for the Super Bowl by 2023, then there’s no way he should trade Carr unless he’s getting somebody definitively better in return. If the plan is to undergo a slight rebuild, then there’s no reason to keep Carr with such a big offer possibly on the table.