The Las Vegas Raiders announced today that Jarrett Stidham would start the last two games of the team's lost season. That's right: Derek Carr has been benched. For Jarrett Stidham. Those who believe this to be the final sign that Carr is done in Vegas are probably right.
Whether the Raiders put Carr on the trade block or just eat the $5.6 million penalty that comes with cutting him outright, it sure seems like Las Vegas will be looking for a new quarterback this offseason. It is certainly questionable if that will fix all the team's issues that came up this year and caused a series of borderline comical losses en route to their current 6-9 record. But Carr leads the league in interceptions and has not helped the offense very much. For all of Josh McDaniels' flaws as quarterbacks and the truly epic collapses from the defense, it's hard to win football games if the QB can't take care of the ball.
So if McDaniels goes hunting for an upgrade, who could end up under center for the silver and black next year?
Even if Carr didn't just get benched the noise has been loud in regards to Brady coming to Vegas. He'd get to team up with his old buddy McDaniels after suffering through a season of facepalm-inducing playcalling in Tampa Bay. Davante Adams would be the best individual receiver Brady has played with since Randy Moss and we all know how much he loves guys like Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller. Mark Davis would be over the moon to bring Brady to town and really make his mark on Vegas. There are downsides from Brady's perspective like the weak offensive line and the difficult division but if the future Hall of Famer decides to play one more year once he hits free agency this offseason, the Raiders are as attractive as any other potential destination.
Rodgers could be on the move this offseason if he still wants to play. He's taken a clear step back this year and his statistics suggest he is not the same guy who squeezed the Packers for a three-year $150 million contract. Green Bay might decide he's not worth the headache anymore and get him out of town to start the Jordan Love era. In which case the Raiders should obviously be very interested as a QB-needy team that happens to boast Rodgers' best wide receiver ever. Like Brady, a few things outside of the Raiders' control needs to fall into place for this to be a possibility. But it is far from out of the question.
As unremarkable as Tannehill may be, he is currently the most gettable option for Las Vegas as far as upgrades go (however marginal). The Titans can move on for only $18 million in dead cap which they may find tenable after a frustrating year that saw Tannehill suffer a few injuries and the team's playoff hopes hanging on by a thread. If Malik Willis shows something over the last two games, cutting or trading Tannehill is very much in play. He'd be a good bridge option for Las Vegas who is better at taking care of the ball than Carr while equally capable of hitting the deep throws--provided there is a strong running game, which means Josh Jacobs' return is probably a package deal. The lamest option but one that could prevent a full-on rebuild for relatively cheap.
Here is a fun, completely out of left field option that occurred to me as I wrote this. What if the Raiders traded Derek Carr for Lamar Jackson? The Ravens do not seem super interested in giving Jackson a huge deal and the last few weeks prove they can win games with a backup QB under center. They could probably talk themselves into being a contender with an average, more traditional quarterback that doesn't cost nearly as much as their former MVP. I'm not saying that's a good idea but I am saying it's the sort of thing a smart NFL team could overthink. The Raiders, meanwhile, instantly have one of the best QB/WR combos in the league that will produce highlights at a clip fitting for Las Vegas.
The primary problem here is that the Raiders already made Adams the highest-paid WR in the NFL last offseason and would have to do the same thing again but for more money with Jackson. Could Mark Davis stomach handing out $65 million guaranteed to Adams and at least $160 million guaranteed to Jackson in two consecutive offseasons? Is that a viable teambuilding strategy? Does any of that matter if you have Jackson juking out dudes all over the field or throwing to Adams deep? This is not likely but it would be extremely awesome. For Las Vegas. Less so for Baltimore.