Derek Carr is officially on the trade block. Ian Rapoport reported that the Las Vegas Raiders will be exploring the market for their longtime quarterback. This is not that different from what he reported after the team benched Carr for the final two weeks of the year. But Carr tweeted out a good-bye to the fans shortly after the report emerged, all but solidifying his status as a player on the move.
Less than two weeks ago we broke down trade destinations for Carr that make the most sense-- the Jets, the Commanders, and the Buccaneers. They will not be the only teams in the running, though. Carr is a solid quarterback who is capable of leading a talented team to the postseason. He is not a great quarterback who will drag his team to victory but he's certainly good enough, and he's under contract for the next three years with shockingly little dead money. The risk factor is significantly mitigated here because a team can move on with almost no financial penalty if they decide they don't like Carr.
So let's cast the net wider. Here's a couple dark horse candidates to trade for Carr.
Green Bay Packers
What will the Packers do if Aaron Rodgers retires (leaving an enormous dead cap hit behind) and Jordan Love isn't the guy? This is an organization that hasn't had to worry about a QB or the possibility of a truly terrible season since Brett Favre was slinging bombs in the Super Bowl instead of scamming the state of Mississippi. They will not accept being bad in the short-term under any circumstances, if only because a very spoiled Packers fan base would riot. Carr is an excellent candidate to keep the team competitive while Green Bay figures out its next move. The two GMs are familiar with one another, at the very least, after the Davante Adams trade last year. They could even end up sticking with Carr, who is only 31 years-old. The Packers are not going to tank and if they don't believe in Love then they will definitely inquire after Carr.
New Orleans Saints
Carr is obviously a great fit for the Saints. New Orleans is still a dark horse candidate because there is no obvious way they can seamlessly acquire Carr. They gave up their first-round pick to the Eagles this year to draft Chris Olave, making it far less likely the front office gives up premium draft capital in any trade until next year. There's also the matter of their cap situation, which is disastrous on a yearly basis thanks to a constant game of kicking the can down the road by Sean Payton. But if they managed to pull it off, Carr would be a godsend. Olave is a budding No. 1 receiver, Alvin Kamara remains the best Swiss Army knife back in the league, and the defense is still very good. It is difficult to envision this potential future due to all the roadblocks in New Orleans' way but can't count them out.
Tua Tagovailoa played great this year but has his flaws. Arm strength is one of them, and while that's slightly overblown it does matter when the two top targets are Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. There's also the not-so-small matter of the severe concussions he's suffered this season, raising questions about whether he should play football at all. Should the Dolphins have any doubts about Tagovailoa's long-term future, Carr is an excellent alternative who would kill it in Mike McDaniel's offense. Miami's war chest is not overflowing considering they got docked a first-rounder for tampering but there is an argument to be made that consistent QB play is the only thing standing between them and a deep playoff run. They should consider it.
New England Patriots
Even if the problems with the Patriots go far beyond Mac Jones, there is little doubt that Bill Belichick is sick of losing and it wouldn't be a shock if he was getting frustrated with the development of a young quarterback. The Raiders, of course, happen to employ Josh McDaniels as their head coach and he made Jones look pretty good last year all things considered. What if the two teams swapped QBs? New England gets a veteran QB to elevate the offense to a level where it can win games in concert with a dominant defense. Las Vegas gets a young quarterback to build around without using premium draft capital to get him. Everyone ends up happy here.