Raiders' Cap Situation Explained If Derek Carr Is Cut in 2023 amid $121.5M Contract

Adam WellsDecember 28, 2022

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 24: Derek Carr #4 of the Las Vegas Raiders throws a pass in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images)
Gaelen Morse/Getty Images

The next two weeks could be Derek Carr's final games as a member of the Las Vegas Raiders.

Carr was benched Wednesday, with Las Vegas turning to Jarrett Stidham for its game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Las Vegas Raiders @Raiders

Head Coach Josh McDaniels addresses the QB position. <a href="https://t.co/1rdhTSsNKr">pic.twitter.com/1rdhTSsNKr</a>

Even though the Raiders seemed to make a commitment to Carr in April by giving him a three-year, $121.5 million extension, it was structured in such a way that makes it easy for the team to move on after this season.

Per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, Carr is "under pressure to show the Raiders something" in the next two weeks because his deal doesn't have any guaranteed money remaining after this season.

Per Spotrac, the Raiders' dead-cap number for 2023 is only $5.6 million if Carr gets cut. They will have to make a quick decision because his 2023 base salary ($32.9 million) and $7.5 million of his 2024 salary become fully guaranteed on Feb. 15, three days after the Super Bowl.

Despite their 6-9 record, the Raiders haven't officially been eliminated from playoff contention. Their chances of getting in are remote, especially with their final two games at home against the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs.

Joe Ferreira @JoeNFL

Wk 17 AFC Elimination Scenarios (no ties):<br><br>NE OUT:<br>1) NE L<br><br>NYJ OUT:<br>1) NYJ L<br><br>PIT OUT:<br>1) PIT L<br>2) MIA W<br><br>LV OUT:<br>1) LV L<br>2) MIA W<br>3) NYJ W <a href="https://t.co/UPGogFSHfo">pic.twitter.com/UPGogFSHfo</a>

The Raiders don't have anyone to blame for their current position in the standings but themselves. They have lost three games this season in which they led by at least 17 points and blew a 13-point fourth-quarter lead to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14.

Carr, who was coming off one of his best seasons in 2021, has taken a significant step back. His 60.8 percent completion rate is the second-worst of his career, ahead of only his 58.1 percent mark as a rookie in 2014. He's thrown 14 interceptions, the most in the NFL and tied for a career high.

Vegas has $175.4 million in cap commitments with just 31 players signed for next season. Cutting Carr would free up an additional $29.3 million to spend on fixing the roster.

Another option available is exploring the trade market for Carr. He's only 31 and isn't that far removed from playing at a high level that the Raiders could land a first-round draft pick or at least a high second-round choice.

A trade could be complicated for Las Vegas because Carr has a full no-trade clause that would allow him to dictate where he goes.

If the Raiders do move on from Carr, either by cutting him or via trade, they would have to find a replacement. It doesn't seem like they want to go into a rebuild, especially after handing out big contracts to defensive end Maxx Crosby (four years, $94 million) and wide receiver Davante Adams (five years, $140 million) last offseason.

There are two free-agent options who could be available and have already been bantered about: Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo. Both quarterbacks played with current Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels when they were with the New England Patriots.

Brady would be the ultimate dream scenario because of his marquee value, but it's unclear at this point if he is going to return for a 24th season. He may also not view the Raiders as a great situation with all of the flaws on their roster that have shown up this season.

Going from Garoppolo to Carr would feel like a lateral move, but his familiarity with McDaniels' system might allow the offense to operate at a higher level than it has in 2022.