In the least surprising move of the NFL offseason so far, the Las Vegas Raiders released quarterback Derek Carr a day before they were on the hook for Carr’s guaranteed $40.4 million next season. After reportedly trying to find a trade partner for Carr, the signal-caller refused to waive his no-trade clause so he could become a free agent and choose his new home.
Now that Carr has his choice of teams, expect a tour of the nation not unlike when Peyton Manning and Tom Brady become free agents. As news filters through about visits with particular teams in the coming days and weeks, the odds for his next destination will fluctuate wildly on NFL betting sites. But let’s try to make sense of which NFL teams are favorites to sign him and whether this could move the needle in the successful team’s Super Bowl odds.
With a new head coach in tow in former Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich and no obvious answer to the role of starting quarterback, the Carolina Panthers are obvious contenders. Last season, they cycled through three different starting quarterbacks, with none of them convincing.
The fearsome trio of Baker Mayfield, P.J. Walker and Sam Darnold combined for 3,187 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The big question here is whether coach Reich has been burned too many times going for veteran quarterbacks only for it to blow up in his face. The last two offseasons with the Colts he was instrumental in the trades for Carson Wentz and then Matt Ryan…and now he’s on a new team. So perhaps he will look to the draft instead.
The New York Jets appeared to be a serviceable quarterback away from contending last season. After nailing the 2022 draft - the team had both the offensive and defensive rookies of the year on their roster - they have a young, relatively inexpensive core. Releasing expensive and underperforming veterans Carl Lawson, John Myers-Franklin and Corey Davis, the team would save around $36.5 million dollars against the salary cap, according to Spotrac.
That number would be a good starting point for talks with Carr. Given the Jets have been burned by 2020 No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson, it appears likely they will be aggressive in going after a veteran signal-caller. The odds with NFL betting apps on this happening look reasonable value.
The last time the Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered the veteran quarterback market, things turned out pretty well for them. Tom Brady had finished his 20-year run with the New England Patriots but was ready to take in a tour of the country to find a new home, with the Bucs coming out on top. He then led them to a Super Bowl in his first season with the team. The following two years after, Brady and the Bucs also made the playoffs, but the 45-year-old has called it quits for good this time leaving the Bucs with a decision to make.
Do they look for a veteran quarterback to run it back with what is still a strong roster? Do they give the keys to the offense to 2021 second-round pick Kyle Trask? Or do they look to the draft?
At this point, it would seem that a pursuit of Carr would be in the Bucs’ wheelhouse, at least while Trask sits for another year. Whether Carr would be happy being a bridge quarterback is another question entirely.
The New Orleans Saints have learnt the last two seasons that it’s really hard to compete when you’re papering over the cracks with second-string quarterbacks. Since surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer Drew Brees retired in 2020, the team have cycled through a mixture of Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Trevor Siemian and Andy Dalton. That has led to the mediocrity of 16 wins and zero playoff appearances.
With head coach Dennis Allen having had a year to consider his roster options, it makes sense that the Saints will be major players in the quarterback sweepstakes this offseason. Making their pursuit of a veteran quarterback all the more obvious is the fact they owe their first-round draft pick to the Philadelphia Eagles. The No. 10 pick might have been a place to grab one of the top QBs this year, but they don’t have that luxury.
There are a large number of teams interested in signing Carr if the odds at USA sports betting sites are to be believed, but which ones are serious candidates to take a run at him?
At +1600 with some US betting apps, it may be wise not to rule out the Washington Commanders. Yes, they have also been burned in free agency and by trading for quarterbacks in the last couple of offseasons. But do they believe that 2022 fifth-round pick Sam Howell is the answer? And is head coach Ron Rivera prepared to gamble his future with the team on him?
Another dark-horse team to look out for is the Tennessee Titans. Ryan Tannehill produced diminishing returns in 2022, and his cap hit next season is $36.6 million. They could save $18 million by releasing Tannehill and running it back one more year with Derrick Henry at running back alongside Carr.
Don’t expect a decision on his future to be made imminently, but do expect the Super Bowl landscape next season to alter at betting sites when he does sign on the dotted line.