The 2021 edition of the Las Vegas Raiders overachieved with a backup coach and injury riddled roster. This year, former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels joined the silver & black as the new head coach and things went, well, not good.
The latest McDaniels-driven rift is laying blame for the season’s woes at the feet of quarterback Derek Carr. The Raiders announced last week that Carr was getting benched for the rest of the season, which cued all the normal NFL divorce drama such as Carr unfollowing team social media accounts and physically leaving the organization for the remainder of the season.
This, of course, was chum in the water for the people who get paid to talk about NFL rumors and future soothsaying.
Though unlikely to make the 2022 NFL playoffs, the Raiders are not mathematically eliminated from contention entering Week 17 against the 49ers. Even so, coach Josh McDaniels is making a change at quarterback, announcing Wednesday that Derek Carr has been benched for backup Jarrett Stidham for the remainder of the year. McDaniels left the door open for a QB swap after Week 16’s narrow loss to the Steelers, and now it’s official: Carr is out as Las Vegas’ signal-caller, and perhaps for good.
Per NFL Media, Carr will step away for the final two games of the regular season to avoid distractions. He will not practice, and will be listed as “not injury related.”
A three-time Pro Bowler who has thrown for 3,522 yards, 24 touchdowns and 14 interceptions this year, Carr had started started 91 consecutive games for the Raiders, the longest active streak by any QB in the NFL. The veteran just this offseason signed a three-year, $121.5 million extension tying him to Las Vegas through 2025, and was a catalyst for the team’s blockbuster acquisition of wide receiver Davante Adams. But he’s been less efficient than usual under McDaniels, struggling to elevate a mercurial offense, and finish games in which Las Vegas has led, during a 6-9 start.
In 2018, Carr finished the year with a 68.9 completion percentage. He hit 70.4 in 2019, 67.3 in 2020, 68.4 in 2021.
Once McDaniels installed his new offense, Carr’s completion percentage fell to 60.8, his lowest since his rookie season in 2014.
Is that on the quarterback or the latest “offensive genius” to leave the shadow of Bill Belichick?
As a head coach, McDaniels has only won 17 of the 44 games he’s led. As a starting quarterback, Carr is 63-79 on a team that’s lacked stability nearly his entire career.
While it’s never totally 1 person’s fault, it’s easy to see the stats slant toward McDaniels as the problem, not the solution.
That bring us to the 2023 off-season and your Houston Texans.
Texans Consider them dark-horse favorites, not because their lineup screams playoff material, which should matter to Carr at this point in his career, but because of the family connection: Derek’s brother, David, was the franchise’s first draft pick and QB, and Derek has said publicly he wished the Texans had drafted him coming out of Fresno State. It’s also possible they’ll be starting fresh at head coach again, perhaps giving Carr an opportunity to team up with a fresh offensive mind in a division that tends to be more winnable than most.
With the obvious relationship between McDaniels and Houston’s general manager Nick Caserio, if there’s a deal to be made, these two men are certainly in a position to make it happen. Carr’s family has a clear connection and fondness for the McNairs, H-Town and the team in general.
Derek Carr Trade Details
Speaking to one high-ranking NFL personnel exec, they believe a trade for Derek Carr could bring a similar return to what the Eagles got for Carson Wentz.— Matt Verderame (@MattVerderame) December 28, 2022
As a reminder, Wentz brought back a third and conditional first to Philadelphia
If Caserio can make that trade without giving up the first pick in the 2023 draft - which appears likely - that would free him up from the Bryce Young conversation to select EDGE phenom Will Anderson Jr.. Houston could then spend their second first round pick on a top target for Carr, ala TCU’s Quentin Johnston. Or, give the Raiders that pick, obtained in the trade with the Cleveland Browns that sent former Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson to Ohio.
Carr is certainly not the second coming of Tom Brady, but he is a major upgrade from Davis Mills, Jeff Driskel and whomever else the Texans might pull off the QB scrap heap in free agency.
Carr coming to town might just repair the Brandin Cooks relationship, give Laremy Tunsil a reason to play for more than money and spark this offense to perform like a legit NFL unit.
Carr, handing off to Dameon Pierce would have shades of his current running back, Josh Jacobs. And, Jacobs is currently one of the best in the league.
Raider WR1 Davante Adams would look great in Battle Red, too. However, his recent signing of a 5-year, $140 million contract likely prevents his trade to any team any time soon.
Forgot Derek Carr has a no trade clause. Makes the situation that much more fun to watch.— TexansCap (@TexansCap) December 28, 2022
Contract langauge: pic.twitter.com/09cxvBJx6e
The ex-Pats brotherhood of McDaniels and Caserio, coupled with Carr’s connection to the Texans and his no-trade clause make this a very plausible outcome.
And, it seems like a far better move to get this team competitive in 2023 than drafting a rookie quarterback who might be a boom, but is more likely a bust when sifting though the first draft pick history. Only nine quarterbacks in NFL history have won a Super Bowl after they were selected as the top overall pick.
However, as the saying goes, any given Sunday...