HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Quarterback Derek Carr was released by the Las Vegas Raiders on Tuesday as the club evaluates its future at the position.
The move was expected after Carr was benched with two games remaining this season because the Raiders would have owed him $40.4 million in guaranteed money over the next two years if he remained on the roster beyond Tuesday. By releasing Carr, the Raiders' salary dead cap hit will be $5.6 million next season.
“We have a lot of respect for Derek Carr and what he has meant to the Raiders organization for the last nine years," Raiders coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler said in a statement. “Derek has done great things in this league and we’re thankful to have been able to work with him this past year. He is a true professional and we appreciate his hard work in striving to produce the results we all desire.”
Carr’s agent, Tim Younger, posted on Twitter that they wish the Raiders “the best of luck.”
“This is the tough part of this business," Younger wrote. "That’s the point; it’s just business. Time now to reset for both sides. Derek chooses to hold on to many good memories and friendships, without any ill will. That’s who he is. Onward and upward.”
Las Vegas tried to work out a trade with the New Orleans Saints, and Carr visited the team last week. He exercised his no-trade clause and turned down the deal Sunday because Carr didn't want to take a pay reduction, a person with knowledge of the situation said at the time. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to comment publicly.
Now Carr, who turns 32 on March 28, will see what he's worth on the open market, and there is little doubt there will be interest in the nine-year veteran given how many teams need to upgrade at quarterback.
Carr might still be able to work out a deal with the Saints, but New Orleans is nearly $60 million over the salary cap, according to overthecap.com. The Saints would need Carr to restructure his contract, but he already turned down that option last weekend.
Other teams Carr could consider include the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Washington Commanders. Another team also could jump into the mix.
Over nine seasons with the Raiders, Carr became the team's career leader in passing yards (35,222) and touchdown passes (217).
The knock on Carr was that he led the Raiders to just two playoff appearances and still is looking for his first postseason victory. How much of that was on Carr and how much on the Raiders is debatable, but Carr will have the opportunity to show elsewhere he wasn’t the problem.
He indicated the week of the Pro Bowl that free agency was his preference over a trade, saying Peyton Manning was encouraging during a discussion they had. The Colts released Manning in 2012 and he went on to win a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos after the 2015 season.
“I’m just looking for teams that have made that decision consistently that they’ll do whatever it takes to put a winning program out there,” Carr said Feb. 2. “So for me, that’s just to win, win a championship. That’s at the forefront of the mind. It’s not money.”
As for the Raiders, Ziegler and McDaniels will have to determine the best path forward at quarterback.
They could try to land a veteran such as Aaron Rodgers or Jimmy Garoppolo.
A trade for Rodgers would reunite him with wide receiver Davante Adams and create buzz around the organization, but the Packers likely would demand a lot in return. Sending draft picks and/or players to Green Bay could make it difficult for Raiders management to build around Rodgers and improve on their 6-11 record.
The San Francisco 49ers have let it be known Garoppolo won’t be back, and he was in the New England Patriots’ organization when Ziegler and McDaniels were there. His injury history would be a concern, but Garoppolo is 40-17 in his career with a Super Bowl appearance.
Signing a veteran would show the Raiders are trying to win big now, and with a group of targets that includes Adams, Hunter Renfrow and tight end Darren Waller, Las Vegas could be an attractive destination for a veteran. The Raiders also hope to bring back Josh Jacobs, who led the NFL with 1,653 yards rushing.
Las Vegas could also try to draft its quarterback of the future, and with the No. 7 overall pick, the Raiders might be able to land one of three QBs projected to go in the top 10. The Raiders could even try to move up in the draft to try to secure Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud or Kentucky’s Will Levis.
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