That is the question.
Well here we are again. Another 'Carr prove it year' has passed. And we're no closer to a consensus than at any time since 2016 when we all thought we might have struck gold in the 2nd round.
Yes, we made the playoffs thank God - but Carr was mostly bad the final 2 months of the season. It was the Defense holding the opponents to under 20 points and the great Carlson making clutch after clutch FG's that kept the season alive. In that stretch, Carr had more turnovers than TD's (led the NFL - again), sub 90 passer rating - was in the 60's in the final loss. And missed countless throws along the way.
And, yes, like Carr always has, made some really good throws at times too. His 2021 final stats are very good, other than the TD to Turnover ratio which is not. He finished top 5 in passing yards yet 15th in QBR. 2021 was a microcosm of his entire career. Carr can look downright elite at times. But then the next week he can look like a career backup. And his penchant for multi-game slumps. You just don't know what you're going to get. Carr giveth. Carr taketh away. Surely he loves that line.. but I digress.
As you all know, we have another rebuild on the way.
The HC and GM are both gone and the rest of the staff have their flights booked. Along with the GM and coaching staff, the roster will undergo a massive turnover, yet again. Especially on Defense, where so many of the starters and important role players were on one year contracts and many will play elsewhere in 2022 when their favorite DC is fired and the cap goes back up again for all the NFL. And there will be changes on Offense, too, especially on the OL and at WR. There could be others as well. The Raiders are facing 3 players that will be expecting near top of the market extensions - Darren Waller, Maxx Crosby and Hunter Renfrow. All are under contract but all are expected to press for early extensions and you know how that can get real ugly with holdouts and such. With a whopping 26 Free Agents hitting the market there will be plenty of holes to fill in the offseason.
That begs the question. What to do with Carr?
He's got 1 year left on his once-NFL-record contract that will pay him around $19M. It is highly unlikely he wants to play on that and has suggested more than once that an extension is 'expected'. Most assume he will command a top 5 contract. Because that's just the way it goes in the NFL - the next guy up gets more money, nearly always. Whether he truly deserves it or not. And more often than not, the franchise suffers for it.
On the other hand there are plenty of NFL teams that would be reportedly interested in trading for Carr and some media have suggested two 1st round picks wouldn't be out of the question in compensation. There are at least 4 teams that reportedly would be in that mix. Panthers, Saints, Falcons, WFT and potentially more.
Despite what you think of Carr, and my position is well known in this blog, there are only 3 scenarios that could happen.
Something like a 4 year $150M extension, $100M guaranteed. This would lock Carr up through 2027. 5 more seasons where he'd then be 35 years old.
Trade Carr for two 1st round picks (or something in that range). Obviously one of those would in the 2023 draft where the QB class is supposed to be stronger, giving the Raiders more ammo to move up then if need be. That would also give the new GM and HC two 1st round picks to use on the roster this season. In addition, this would free up $19M in additional cap space that could be used to fill holes in FA as well as sign 2 veteran QBs to compete to be the starter this season.
Play It Out
Don't offer Carr another contract. Rather force him to play out his final year and then 'see where it goes' from there. This would create an uncomfortable situation for Carr who has said repeatedly he wants to retire here. And for the rest of the team as this would undoubtedly be a point of contention that the press would bring up over and over. About how the Raiders 'don't believe in Carr', and "don't have his back", etc, etc. Not to mention, his brother David on NFLN making it worse.
As most of you know, I've been for trading Carr for a while now. After 8 years I've seen enough and think it's in the best interest of the organization to move on and get the most we can out of a trade now. I'm for exploring other options in FA for this year and look to draft a QB next year. Wilson and Rodgers would be my first choices, although both come with extreme price tags and honestly I don't think the team is ready for that yet. The other best option IMO is to sign Mariota to a 3 year reasonably priced extension with starter bonuses. And then look to draft his successor, either this year or next. I feel Mariota, although not without flaws, has proven himself in the NFL enough to be good enough to take a team to the playoffs. Because he has. He's only 28 and deserves another shot as a starter. While our new HC and GM settle in, with our extra picks and cap space, I think we would be right back in the wildcard again with Mariota (or Rodgers or Wilson) at QB. And we could turn the page on the mostly bad Carr era. Yes, not all his fault, but he's not without fault either. And give the fanbase something to look forward to in a young future QB to compete with Mahomes and Herbert in this very tough AFC West.
What do you propose?
What scenario would you like to see and why?