Three potential trade destinations for Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr

Where will Raiders QB Derek Carr be traded?

By: Reese Nasser

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr could soon find himself on a new team. With his contract currently set to end after the 2022 season, he could be a name to watch between now and the trade deadline. 

After seven seasons with the Raiders, Carr has never appeared in a playoff game and has won double-digit games just once. He also has a career record of 47-63, but that does not tell the whole story. In his time since entering the league, Carr has been very efficient with the ball. He has 170 passing touchdowns to just 71 interceptions throughout his career. 

Even without ever having a prolific receiving room, Carr has been a consistent playmaker. He had been a reliable QB1. He has also been one of the clutchest players in the league. He has 24 game winning drives in his career. 

When looking at all of this, it is clear to see why teams would be intrigued by adding Carr to their roster. He is still a solid quarterback who would be an upgrade at the position for most teams. Many teams believe that they have the roster in place for a super bowl run and are just missing a quarterback to get them over the hump. Other teams are just trying to find a piece to build around, and at just 30 years old, Carr could be just that. There would be no developing Carr, unlike what you would have to do with a younger quarterback. He is also coming off arguably the best season of his career. 

There are a few different teams that could be in a position to go after Carr. It could end up taking a large draft package to land the veteran quarterback. Some teams may be more willing to give the Raiders what they would like as opposed to others. Here are three  teams that could prove to be top destinations for Derek Carr. 

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers future at the quarterback position is unclear, to say the least. Longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is entering the final year of his restructured contract. He will also be entering his 18th season as the Steelers starting quarterback and is 39-years old. 

Outside of Roethlisberger, the Steelers have not seemed to create a concrete plan as to who will be their next quarterback. Backup quarterback Mason Rudolph has been subpar in his nine career starts. He could be who the Steelers look to for their future, but he hasn’t yet shown that he can be a number one quarterback on a team. 

The Steelers also recently signed former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins this off-season. Haskins underperformed in his two years in Washington, recording a record of 3-10 and throwing just 12 touchdowns. He has struggled since entering the NFL, and much like Rudolph, hasn’t lived up to expectations up to this point. 

With no proven options past Roethlisberger, if there is a struggle at the quarterback position, the Steelers could look to go after a quarterback such as Carr. The Steelers have a team that is built to win now and can’t afford to have an offense being held back by poor QB play. Carr could play out his final two years of his contract in Pittsburgh and then sign a long-term deal to remain the QB1. 

Washington Football Team 

Washington currently has a surplus of quarters back on their roster, yet there is still no clear QB1. Ryan Fitzpatrick. Taylor Heinicke, and Kyle Allen will all have an opportunity to win the starting job. 

But Washngton may feel like none of these three quarterbacks meet their standards and this could cause them to go after someone such as Carr. 

Washington has assembled a potential top-10 defense and they have young and talented offensive pieces. With Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel preparing to become a top receiving duo and running back Antonio Gibson on the verge of stardom, this offense has all the making of a powerhouse. 

Carr could be what this team needs to take them over the top, and Washington is one team that could create a package that is good enough to land the quarterback. 

Miami Dolphins 

The Miami Dolphons coild prove to be an intriguing landing spot for Derek Carr. The decision to trade for him would also be baeed entirely on second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s performance in the first half of the season. 

Tua struggled on multiple occasions last season, being replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick on more than one occasion. But, it is still too early to move on from the young quarterback, at least for now. He scored 14 touchdowns in his rookie season and showed flashes of potential.
The Dolphins have a team that can win games, proving this last season by securing 10 wins for the first time since 2016. They also added quality playmakers on the offensive side of the ball through both the draft and free agency. 

Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle will look to be a centerpiece for this team, and eventually Miami’s main target. Wide receiver Will Fuller will also receive a heavy workload for the Dolphins in his first season with the team. 

With a potential top receiving unit, the Dolphins may believe that they can’t afford to wait for Tua to develop. If he does struggle in the start of the season, they could center a package around him and send him to Las Vegas in exchange for Carr. 

Carr is Miami’s offense could be lethal and this team could be positioned to make a legitimate playoff run. 

Is 2021 a make or break season for Derek Carr in Las Vegas?

Is Derek Carr in his last year in Las Vegas?

By: Reese Nasser

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has had a long, yet relatively uneventful career up to this point. There have been moments where he has appeared to become a top-tier quarterback, but it has never lasted. 

In his seven seasons of being the QB1 for the Raiders, they have all ended the same. He has yet to play in a playoff game and has only had a double-digit win season once. 

The lone double-digit win season for Carr came in 2016. He played arguably the best football of his career, throwing 28 touchdowns and nearly 4000 yards. He also held onto the ball in a way that he has never been able to, throwing just six interceptions. 

Carr was also the very definition of clutch in 2016. He led the Raiders one seven game winning drives and was the reason that they were in a position to make a playoff run. After leading the then Oakland Raiders to a 12-3 record, tragedy struck. Carr broke his fibula in the fourth quarter of a week 15 game against the Indianapolis Colts. This injury ended Carr’s season and any chance that the Raiders had of a postseason run. 

Since that 2016 season, the Raiders have been arguably the most average team in the NFL. They have remained largely in the middle of the pack in regards to the rest of the league. Carr’s career record of 47-63 is very fitting for the organization as a whole. 

Carr’s 2020 season saw him turn in yet another performance that caused people to question whether he crossed into elite territory. The Raiders finished with an 8-8 record, but Carr was one of the top passers in the NFL. He threw 27 touchdowns to just nine interceptions and surpassed 4000 passing yards for just the third time of his career. 

But even with his performance, the Raiders still managed to be just mediocre. Carr has had seven seasons to bring the Raiders over the hump, and he has still not done it. With just two years remaining on his contract, Las Vegas has to decide if Carr is who they wish to continue to build around. 

The quarterback is just 30 years old and a team looking to find a new franchise QB could look to Carr to be that guy. The Raiders could look to trade Carr and get a hefty return through either draft picks and/or promising young players. He also has one of the top arms in the NFL and has shown that he is not afraid to sling the ball. 

So does that technically make this a make or break season for Carr? In a way, yes. But that doesn’t fully explain just how important this season could be for the franchise as a whole, even outside of Derek Carr. So let’s take a look at why exactly this is a make or break season for Carr. 

The State of the Franchise 

While this will be the Raiders second season in Las Vegas, it will be the first for the fans. The expectations for this team will be unreal. They have a new stadium and a whole new city to impress. 

They also don’t necessarily have a roster that is built to win a lot of games in 2021. They are fairly young at many important positions. The receiving group isn’t great, with second-year receiver Henry Ruggs being the WR1 on this roster. A duo of Ruggs and breakout tight end Darren Waller may not be enough to get this team into the playoffs, especially when looking at how good the AFC is. 

The defensive side of the ball is also young, especially the secondary. If the defense struggles, the Raiders may find themselves in a position where they are forced to fight their way back into games. 

When looking at the success of other teams in recent years that have moved cities, near instant success will be what the fans want. Look at the success of both of the Los Angeles teams. The Rams and Chargers both moved cities and have both found success in Los Angeles. 

Both Los Angeles teams, even though the rosters are drastically different, are both in very good positions. Las Vegas could look at both teams as a template to build. 

The Chargers are one of the most exciting teams in the NFL, and are being led by second-year quarterback Justin Herbert. 

The Raiders could look to assemble a roster somewhat resembling that of the Chargers. They could start this process by moving on from Carr and finding a young quarterback. 

Or they could build like the Rams, who have a veteran quarterback in Matt Stafford. Their depth chart is full of veteran players on both sides of the ball.

Why the Raiders Could Move On

With all of these variables, it wouldn’t come as a shock if the Raiders chose to move on from Carr. With being in a new city, finding a new face of the franchise could make sense, especially with looking at the quarterbacks that will be available in this year’s draft. 

From Spencer Rattler, and Sam Howell, to Malik Willis, and Kedon Slovis, this upcoming draft eligible quarterbacks could be intriguing. They are all good at different things and each one could fit in with the Raiders.

It could arguably come down to how well the Raiders perform this season. After an 8-8 record last season, the Raiders draft pick ended up being right near the middle of the pack. They ended up having the 17th selection. 

If Carr leads them to another record around 9-8 or 10-7, they could still find themselves picking right near the middle yet again. This could remove them from contention of selecting a top quarterback, putting them in sort of a no man’s land where they would have no choice but to stick with Carr. 

This could lead to a potential mid-season trade, something that rarely happens with big name players in the NFL. This wouldn’t be the first time that the Raiders have done something like this. They traded for Cincinnati Bengals quarterback right before the trade deadline in 2011. The roles could be reversed with this go-around. With either injuries or a team that feels like they are a “quarterback away” from a real playoff-run, Carr could be that guy.

A team would have to give up a good amount for Carr, especially when considering that they would have him under contract for all of the 2022 season as well. 

When looking at recent trades for a QB1, there is always substantial capital involved. The Rams sent the Lions two first-round picks, a third-rounder and Jared Goff. The Colts sent a conditional second-rounder and a third-rounder for Carson Wentz. 

The Raiders could find themselves receiving something in-between these two trades for Carr. At least one first round pick would be needed to get a trade started. 

If the Raiders find themselves struggling near the trade deadline, a mid-season trade could be what they choose to do. Trading Carr could change the future of the franchise. 

So yes, this is a make or break season for Derek Carr. He is coming off of a career year and is still a very talented player. 

The entire future of the Las Vegas Raiders franchise could be determined by how well Carr and this team as a whole perform in 2021. If he gives them a reason to keep him around, they could lock into him for the remainder of his career. Or, they could move on and restart with a new QB1. 

Projecting Roles of the Raiders Backfield

Who Will Be The Raiders RB of the future?

The Raiders made some waves in free agency this 2021 offseason, signing Arizona Cardinals’ running back Kenyan Drake to a two-year, $11 million dollar deal to join the backfield in Las Vegas. 

On the surface, not the craziest signing in the universe. Drake was perhaps the biggest name among the free-agent running backs in 2021, and coming off of two seasons as the Cardinals starter in an air raid offense, the star player found a more running-oriented team in the Raiders. Las Vegas got a quality player, Drake got an offense that likes to run more. 

But what would otherwise be a perfect fit left a few people scratching their heads, as just two seasons ago, the Raiders used a first-round pick to draft Josh Jacobs, the former Alabama running back who made the Pro Bowl in his rookie season, and has ran for 2,215 yards in his 28 game career. 

Now, Las Vegas has two running backs with starting potential, and a couple more on the roster already who could compete for reps in the offense. The question now becomes, how will the Las Vegas Raiders balance their crowded running back room, and how should they balance out their crowded running back room?

I’m so glad you asked.

Josh Jacobs

Maybe Josh Jacobs disappointed in his second season, relative to impossible expectations. Maybe his 3.9 yards per carry, good for just 43rd in the league, or his 13 games held under 100 rushing yards, despite being third in the league in carries, have Raiders’ coaches a bit worried about the former first-rounder’s potential. And maybe that’s why Las Vegas felt the need to sign Kenyan Drake to a multi-year deal.

But make no mistake about it, the feature running back position is still Jacobs’ to lose.

Relative to the league average, Jacobs’ efficiency on the ground might have struggled, but the Raiders’ offense as a whole thrived while operating through him. Even while their high-volume back failed to reach over four yards a carry, Las Vegas still leaned on him all the way to a top ten scoring offense, all while Jacobs faced eight-man boxes on over 25% of his carries

And even if efficiency numbers weren’t in Jacobs’ favor, the raw numbers were. Jacobs was one of just nine players in 2020 to reach over 1,000 yards on the ground, and finished tied for fifth in the league in rushing touchdowns with 12. There should be two main takeaways from this.

Number one: Analytics nerds be damned, Jacobs is still a talented player, and a valuable asset to the Raiders’ offensive operation. Not the efficiency monster that the 49ers’ Raheem Mostert is, or the king of 100-yard games like the Titans’ Derrick Henry, but very few are. Instead, Jacobs is a well-rounded talent, capable of shouldering a heavy load in the Las Vegas offense.

Number two: You don’t give a guy the third most carries in the league if you’re looking to replace him. Kenyan Drake is a running back capable of starting in the NFL, but the Raiders’ offense was great in 2020, borderline elite, and Jacobs was the engine behind that offense. Drake will have a significant role in Las Vegas, but Jacobs should still be the go-to guy.

Kenyan Drake

Think ‘Super-Charged Cleveland Browns,’ an offense where Nick Chubb is the star at running back, but Kareem Hunt still saw the field for 52% of the team’s snaps. Or rather, think ‘NCAA 14 Dynasty Mode on freshman difficulty’ where after a few seasons, you’ve won three straight national championships, sign nothing but five-star recruits, and have two 95+ overall players at running back for no other reason than “eh, why not.” That’s what the Raiders’ offense is with Kenyan Drake joining Josh Jacobs.

Or at least, that should be the vision of what the offense could be with those two players in the backfield. Drake has his own faults as a player, just like Jacobs. And even while the two are talented, two nice seasons doesn’t have Jacobs on the same career trajectory as Nick Chubb, and one surprisingly nice half-season in Arizona back in 2019 doesn’t have Drake looking like Kareem Hunt.

But just as both these running backs come with their own set of issues, both are still skilled players at the position. For Drake, his true talent stands as being a multi-purpose threat. In two of Drake’s five NFL seasons, he’s caught more than 50 passes, and has recently blossomed into a skilled running back as well, breaking 800 yards on the ground in each of his last two seasons.

But in the Raiders’ offense, one that leaned heavily on the efforts of Josh Jacobs in 2020, Drake’s role in Las Vegas might be limited to shining in just one of those skillsets. Jacobs can be the threat on the ground, while Drake possesses a bit more potential as a receiver for the Raiders. Between the two, Jacobs should project early as the early-down back, while Drake could shine as a star third-down threat.

The Field

If Kenyan Drake is the Captain America of the Las Vegas Raiders’ backfield, and Josh Jacobs is the Iron Man, then the other names lining the Raiders’ roster, names like Theo Riddick, Jalen Richard, and potentially even a late-round rookie, are the Hawkeye of the bunch. Not the fan-favorites, not the heaviest hitters, but important in their own right, enough to carve out a role in Vegas, even with a crowded running back room.

Even if Riddick and Richard aren’t the headline-grabbing names that the Raiders’ new two-headed monster is, there should still be a path to them seeing the field on a Las Vegas offense that ran the ball the 11th most in the NFL, and targeted their running backs on 95 passing plays. 

Maybe the Raiders’ offense isn’t the most reliant on the ground game, but they’re still built in a way that leans on their running back group, and seem to be treading even more in that direction with the free-agency acquisition of Drake. They also might not target their running backs in the same way that the Saints do with Alvin Kamara, or the Panthers do with Christian McCaffery, but they still feature their ball-carriers in the passing game enough to believe that between ground duties and pass-catching responsibilities, Drake and Jacobs won’t be able to do it all on their own.

And that’s where the field comes in. Not to start, or to be a high-volume bench presence, but to step in situationally to take the pressure off the two stars. Both Richard and Riddick have been exceptional receiving running backs in their pro careers, with Richard recording over 600 receiving yards from the backfield in 2018, and Riddick once breaking 80 catches with just one start to his name in 2015 with the Lions. They’re the exact type of role players that a running back-heavy offense like the one constructed by Jon Gruden needs to thrive.

Three Potential Replacements For Derek Carr

Where Could The Raiders Look If Carr Leaves

By: Caleb Holfoth

The quarterback carousel this offseason is already off to an exciting start with Matthew Stafford being traded to the Los Angeles Rams. James Palmer of NFL Network reported that several teams have called the Raiders and have made offers for starting QB Derek Carr.

The Raiders have yet to seriously consider offers. Considering that the Raiders have not made much progress with Derek Carr during Jon Gruden’s coaching tenure does make this trade very possible in the future.

The Raiders currently hold the 17th pick in the first round of the NFL draft. They could gather more picks and move up by trading Carr, but it is unlikely that any of the top five quarterbacks in the draft fall that far. The Raiders could pick a quarterback late in the draft but the player will likely not be NFL ready. Here are three players who could replace Derek Carr if he is traded in a deal that does not return a quarterback.

 

  1. Jameis Winston

Another option for Gruden and Las Vegas is the guy who was picked ahead of Mariota in 2015. Jameis Winston sat behind Drew Brees and Taysom Hill this season for the Saints took this season to learn behind one of the greatest. Winston is most remembered for throwing 30 Interceptions in the 2019 season. However, what people forget is that Winston led the league in passing with 5,109 yards and 30 passing touchdowns.

Winston could be the perfect bridge QB for a competitive roster featuring a pedestrian defense. The Raiders aren’t in a great position to draft Gruden’s favorite QB prospect, so it would be more than ideal for LV to take a value pick in the free agency pool.

Winston clearly has the talent to start in the NFL. Where Winston needs to improve is with turnovers and pocket presence. Winston would automatically make the Raiders offense more explosive. However, the cost that could come at with Winston’s high turnover rate is something that makes all NFL franchises balk at Winston. Gruden would be taking a risk by going with Winston. The reward could be gigantic, or it could put Gruden’s job on the line. 

2. Marcus Mariota

This option makes sense for Las Vegas because they keep the job in-house. Marcus Mariota former second Overall pick played well in relief for Derek Carr when Carr went down this year in week 15. Mariota threw for 226 yards and ran for 88 yards with 2 total touchdowns to finish the game in relief. Although Mariota could have some sort of career resurgence with the Raider, he is more of a bridge option for the Raiders. 

Mariota is a talented QB that is familar with the scheme and could compete with modest weapons around him. Gruden may have trouble luring a FA QB if Carr does leave the building, so it would make sense to keep the Oregon legend intact if he they trade the QB1.

Mariota can be an average NFL quarterback who has the occasional outlier game where he plays like a top 15 quarterback. Mariota is a dual-threat player which gives the Raiders an advantage over Carr’s pocket passer style. However, without an elite offense surrounding him, Mariota is the least feasible option on the list if the Raiders expect to make the playoffs next season.  

  1. Dak Prescott

Probably the most unrealistic option is also the most intriguing. It is not a secret that Dak Prescott and the Cowboys are not exactly BFFs. Prescott wanted a long-term deal last season and the Dallas franchise tagged him. Nonetheless, this is Jon Gruden that we’re talking about — the same coach that had trades with Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper, and signed Antonio Brown.

Prescott got hurt early this year and the Cowboys were changing quarterbacks all season eventually leading to a third-place finish in the NFC East. Prescott is an unrestricted free agent and unless the Dallas Cowboys tag him, he will hit the open market. If Prescott does hit the market, there would be several teams knocking at the door for his services. 

Other NFL teams certainly have better selling points than the Las Vegas Raiders, but the Raiders should not be overlooked. The Raiders have the pieces (Henry Ruggs, Darren Waller, Nelson Agholor, Hunter Renfrow, Josh Jacobs). They also have something that not many franchises can offer. A brand-new stadium in a brand-new location with no face of the organization. Prescott could easily become the face of the Raiders; one of the NFL’s most storied and notable franchises.

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