Three Derek Carr Free Agency Destinations

Derek Carr
Derek Carr / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

At some point today, Derek Carr will hit the free agent market for the first time in his career. The longtime Raiders quarterback refused to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a transaction to another team, so Las Vegas will cut him outright today in order to avoid paying him his $40 million guaranteed salary.

Carr received some interest over the last month but most teams were unwilling to engage in any legitimate trade talks because his contract was too large in tandem with having to send out a draft pick. Now, though, he'll have plenty of suitors. Carr checks in as a slightly above-average QB so any team hoping to land him needs to have the cap space to pay him a pretty good salary. Not quite at what his Raiders contract was, but not far off, either. Something in the realm of $20-25 million per year seems about right; the length of the deal is entirely dependent on who Carr signs with.

Here are a few possible free agency destinations for the multi-time Pro Bowl quarterback.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints were the only team engaged in serious trade talks with the Raiders prior to today, but never got a deal done because Carr wouldn't take a pay cut. It's fair for New Orleans to ask and fair for Carr to decline, so I doubt there are lingering hard feelings there that would get in the way of a new deal in free agency. New Orleans obviously does not believe Andy Dalton or Jameis Winston is the answer. Carr is better and more reliable than both parties. He'd go a long way towards helping the Saints seize a wide-open NFC South.

The issue (as always!) is that the Saints are currently $57 million over the cap. They'll have to do quite a bit of gymnastics in order to get even with the cap before the new league year starts, much less create enough room to sign Carr, other free agents at positions of need, and their draft picks. But we talk about this every year and it never ends up mattering for New Orleans so that alone is not enough to eliminate them. It's absolutely a factor, though.

New York Jets

The Jets have a litany of options to choose from for their new quarterback. The top choice is still Aaron Rodgers, who will descend into darkness to decide if he wants to play next year and, if so, where he'd like to be. If he never emerges from that hovel or wants to stay with Green Bay, New York is onto the free agent market, where they can choose between Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo. Of those two options Garoppolo is a more proven winner but Carr is more durable and projects to have a slightly higher ceiling in a good offense.

Regardless of pros and cons, the price point would make the decision for Gang Green. They are not deep in the red but they aren't drowning with cap space, either, and need to ink Quinnen Williams to a big extension. Carr is a better long-term option than Garoppolo so he should be the Jets' first choice and if a deal can be struck then New York has their guy for the next few years.

Carolina Panthers

None of the NFC South teams have a quarterback so they could all be on this list but the Panthers qualify for the final spot because Frank Reich is a QB coach who needs a QB. Owner David Tepper seems impatient and unwilling to sit back while hoping the draft board falls their way. Adding Carr would be better than their previous attempts at finding a long-term answer under center, which isn't saying much but is true!

It wouldn't be a good idea but Carolina has oodles of cap space to work with and can afford to outbid most, if not all, of the other realistiic competitiors for Carr's services. He'd give Reich something to work with from Day 1 and is young enough to stick around for a while. Carr is not a reclamation project so it's an easier sell than the failed Darnold/Mayfield fever dream. It feels like another step on the treadmill of mediocrity but pairing Carr with a good defense and using their picks to juice up the offense makes for a playoff contender. Maybe not a championship contender, but merely average would be a massive improvement for the Tepper-era Panthers.