That’s what the Buccaneers’ NFC South rival New Orleans Saints want according to WTSP 10 Tampa Bay sports director Evan Closky via Sports Illustrated’s “Bucs Gameday”. Saints brass met with Carr on Wednesday, February 8, at the Raiders’ permission. The Saints took the frontrunner spot for Carr according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on the “Pat McAfee Show” on Tuesday. Las Vegas has until February 15 to trade or release Carr in order to avoid paying $40.5 million guaranteed money on his contract.
“There’s part of me that thinks this is all for show,” Closky told Sports Illustrated’s “Bucs Gameday” on Wednesday. “There’s been a little bit of steam in the Derek Carr to Buccaneers camp, especially when you consider…all the reports that the Glazers do not want to take a step back.”
As Closky sees it, the Saints pursuit of Carr could be a way to get the Bucs “to flinch” and give up a draft pick (or more) in a trade for the four-time Pro Bowler, David Harrison of “Bucs Gameday” wrote. Harrison noted that Las Vegas “has no leverage to force a trade” because of the February 15 deadline.
Tampa Bay has a major need for a quarterback with Tom Brady retired, and Carr would easily become the top quarterback in the NFC South if he signs on with the Saints or Bucs. The Saints likewise have a need at quarterback after the carousel of Andy Dalton, Taysom Hill, and former Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.
With that said, the Saints have a worse salary cap situation, $59.6 million, than the Bucs, $55.7 million, per Spotrac. Carr has a monster contract of $121.5 million over three years, and he is set to make $32.9 million with the Raiders in 2023. The Raiders are only on the hook for $5.6 million with a trade or release, per Spotrac.
Saints Have ‘Framework for a Trade’ With Raiders
It’s not insurmountable for either the Saints to work in Carr under the salary cap. The Athletic’s Tashan Reed and Vic Tafur explained that the Saints could save cap space “by converting a chunk of Carr’s salary in 2023 into a signing bonus” in a trade.
Reed and Tafur notably reported that the Saints and Raiders developed a “framework for a trade”. While details of a potential Saints-Raiders deal haven’t been released according to Reed and Tafur, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that the Raiders want a third-round draft pick for Carr. Fowler also reported that Carr “probably won’t” want his deal re-worked.
Bucs Still Have Chance at Carr
With no trade officially agreed to between the Saints and Raiders, the Bucs still have a shot at Carr. Buzz previously surrounded a potential Bucs-Carr deal during the Senior Bowl according to Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson.
“So, the buzz here at the Senior Bowl, I’m in Mobile, Ala. by the way, the buzz is connecting them [Bucs] with Derek Carr,” Robinson said during the “You Pod to Win the Game” on February 1. “Like, that’s probably the Derek Carr destination. I only believe that if the Bucs are like, ‘Let’s not reboot completely. Let’s not just nuke it right now and start all over again. Let’s see if we can maybe put this back together again.'”
Closky doesn’t believe that’s changed. It’s also worth noting that Carr’s brother, Darren, tweeted a picture with Carr in a Saints uniform on Wednesday but then deleted it.
“I actually still believe that the Buccaneers are very much in the hunt for Carr,” Closky said. “I think that they’re one of the top three teams I think could land Carr.”