Derek Carr is officially a free agent. The Las Vegas Raiders released the 31-year-old quarterback on Tuesday after he refused to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a move to another team. Now that Carr is on the open market, where are his best landing spots around the NFL?
Top Landing Spots for Derek Carr
New Orleans Saints
Carr met with the Saints after the Raiders granted him permission to seek a trade. While Carr wanted to visit every interested team, Las Vegas felt that he and his agent could use those meetings to work out a free agent contract rather than discuss a trade and reworked deal.
New Orleans had already agreed on trade compensation — the Raiders were looking for a third-round pick, but it’s unclear if that’s what the Saints had offered.
Jameis Winston is the only quarterback under contract in New Orleans next season, and he could potentially be released in the coming weeks. The Saints hold the 29th pick in the draft — acquired from the Broncos in exchange for former head coach Sean Payton — but that selection won’t put them in range to land one of the draft’s top quarterbacks. Thus, a veteran like Carr makes more sense.
The NFC South is wide open following Tom Brady’s retirement, and the Saints have more than enough roster talent to compete for the division title. Although New Orleans is laughably $60 million over the salary cap, they’ll have enough financial levers to pull to become compliant.
General manager Mickey Loomis has been kicking the can down the road for years, and there’s no reason to stop now when an upgrade under center could put them in the playoffs.
New York Jets
The Jets recently hired Todd Downing, who worked with Carr as the Raiders’ quarterbacks coach and later OC from 2015-17, as their new passing game coordinator. Coaching connections won’t be enough for Gang Green to land Carr, but they clearly have a need at quarterback.
If the Jets had received even league-average QB play in 2022, they likely would have made the playoffs. Their defense was one of the best in the NFL, and Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson led an intriguing set of pass catchers.
Wilson, Elijah Moore, and Breece Hall will all be back next season, and Carr would offer New York a high-floor option, especially if the Jets make meaningful additions to their offensive line. While general manager Joe Douglas could theoretically target a rookie QB with the 13th overall pick, the Zach Wilson debacle might make New York’s front office lean in favor of a veteran.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brady’s retirement means the Buccaneers are no longer the obvious favorites in the NFC South. But given their veteran-laden roster, they’re not in a position to rebuild.
Tampa Bay’s best course of action is to find a signal-caller that can take advantage of a pass-catching unit that includes an excellent tandem in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
The Buccaneers haven’t yet hired a new offensive coordinator to replace the fired Byron Leftwich, so we can’t project how Carr would project in their scheme. But it shouldn’t be a surprise if the Bucs show some interest in Carr, especially given that they’ve shown no indication that 2021 second-round pick Kyle Trask is their quarterback of the future.
Every team in the NFC South could use a QB upgrade, including the Panthers, who will shift their offensive scheme after hiring Frank Reich as their new head coach. Carolina has swung and missed on veteran passers in recent offseasons, failing to work out potential trades for Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford. Unlike those options, Carr wouldn’t require any draft capital.
Owners of the ninth overall pick, the Panthers should be in striking range of landing a rookie quarterback. A trade up the board shouldn’t present much of a problem after Carolina picked up four extra selections by trading Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers last year.
However, owner David Tepper may be in win-now mode and prefer an experienced QB. Carr is accurate enough to play in Reich’s scheme, and he’s probably the most realistic veteran option available if the Panthers eschew a rookie.
The Titans may feel as though the Ryan Tannehill experiment has run its course. If that’s the case, Tennessee could designate the 34-year-old as a post-June 1 release and clear $27 million in salary cap space.
Joshua Dobbs played well in two starts to end the season, but it’s unlikely the Titans view him as a frontline option for 2023. Tennessee took a gamble on Malik Willis in the third round of the 2022 draft, but the former Liberty quarterback looked totally overwhelmed at the NFL level.
Upgrading from Tannehill to Carr might not seem like much of an upgrade at all, but Carr is three years younger and offers a higher floor than Tannehill at this point in his career. An offense designed around Carr, Derrick Henry, Treylon Burks, and Chigoziem Okonkwo could do some damage, and the Titans are expected to be in the mix for the former Raiders QB.