Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has been benched in favor of backup signal-caller Jarrett Stidham for a Week 17 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, putting his future with the franchise into question.
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported Wednesday that the Raiders are benching Carr "in part to preserve his health for a potential trade this offseason." Las Vegas doesn't want to risk an injury to the veteran, and his market could "heat up" after the Super Bowl, Fowler added.
The news is somewhat of a surprise, considering the Raiders inked Carr to a three-year $121.5 million extension in April and acquired star wide receiver Davante Adams, with whom he played in college, in a trade with the Green Bay Packers.
However, Carr has been subpar this season. In 15 games, he has completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 3,522 yards and 24 touchdowns against a league-high 14 interceptions. His completion percentage is the lowest it's been since 2015 (61.1 percent), which was his second year in the NFL.
When Carr signed his three-year extension, only $25 million of his contract was guaranteed. If he were to suffer an injury in the final two games of the 2022 season, his $32.9 million 2023 salary and $7.5 million of his 2024 salary would be guaranteed.
Benching Carr with only two games remaining in the regular season ensures he'll be healthy so those guarantees aren't triggered before Feb. 15. If the Raiders were to cut Carr before June 1, they'd be left with a dead cap hit of only $5.625 million.
With a 6-9 record and matchups against the 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs upcoming, the Raiders have little chance to make the postseason, so benching Carr makes a lot of sense.
Carr has spent his entire nine-year career with the Raiders, earning three Pro Bowl selections, but he has never led the team to a playoff victory. It's clearly time for the club to start thinking about moving on.
However, Carr has a no-trade clause, which means he can essentially determine where he ends up.
The Raiders currently hold the No. 9 pick in the 2023 NFL draft, although that will likely change over the next two weeks. They could opt to replace Carr with a top quarterback prospects such as Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson or Hendon Hooker.
With that said, here are some potential destinations and hypothetical trade packages for Carr.
Note: All draft picks listed are projected via Tankathon.
New York Jets
A number of teams are going to need new quarterbacks entering the 2023 campaign. That includes the New York Jets, even though they selected Zach Wilson second overall in the 2021 NFL draft.
Wilson has failed to prove himself as New York's quarterback of the future in his two NFL seasons. Through nine games this season, he has completed only 54.5 percent of his passes for 1,688 yards and six touchdowns against seven interceptions.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh benched Wilson in favor of Mike White after he completed only 9-of-22 passes in a Week 11 loss to the New England Patriots.
Saleh recently told reporters that the Jets aren't quitting on Wilson and that he still thinks the 23-year-old has a future with the franchise. But with the team continuing to remain competitive in the AFC playoff race, adding a player like Carr would be beneficial.
The Trade: Jets receive QB Derek Carr. Raiders receive 2023 second-round pick (No. 46), 2023 fourth-round pick (No. 114).
The Indianapolis Colts have cycled through a number of quarterbacks since Andrew Luck announced his retirement in August 2019. Jacoby Brissett, Brian Hoyer, Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, Sam Ehlinger and Nick Foles have all started at least one game for them over the past four seasons.
The Colts acquired Ryan in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons ahead of the 2022 season. However, he has struggled in his first season with the Colts, completing 67 percent of his passes for 3,057 yards and 14 touchdowns against 13 interceptions in 12 games.
Interim head coach Jeff Saturday has turned to both Ehlinger and Foles at different points this season in place of Ryan, but neither signal-caller has been efficient.
The Colts currently don't have a quarterback of the future, though they are projected to land the No. 5 pick in the 2023 draft. They could use that pick to select any of Young, Stroud, Richardson, etc.
However, it's unlikely any of those young quarterbacks will find instant success in the NFL, so a trade for Carr could be beneficial for 2023 and beyond. While Carr would get the starter reps in 2023, the young signal-caller that the Colts potentially select can learn from one of the longest-tenured veterans in the league.
The Trade: Colts receive QB Derek Carr. Raiders receive 2023 second-round pick (No. 37).
New Orleans Saints
The post-Drew Brees era hasn't been kind to the New Orleans Saints. They have rotated through Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Trevor Siemian, Ian Book and Andy Dalton since Brees hung up his cleats following the 2020 campaign.
To get back to winning football in 2023, the Saints could trade for Carr, who is a better option than anyone whom they've rotated through over the past two seasons.
Winston is the only quarterback whom New Orleans has under contract for 2023, but he has been riding the bench since Week 3. His opportunity to serve as the team's starter has likely sailed.
Acquiring Carr would make a lot of sense for the Saints since they do not have a first-round pick in the 2023 draft. They likely won't get a shot to select one of the best signal-callers available this spring.
Additionally, Saints head coach Dennis Allen was the Raiders' head coach when Carr was a rookie in 2014. It's possible Allen would be open to a reunion with Carr in the Big Easy.
The Trade: Saints receive QB Derek Carr. Raiders receive 2023 second-round pick (No. 41 overall), 2023 fifth-round pick (No. 145).
Aside from the Jets, Colts and Saints, several other teams could be in need of a quarterback entering the 2023 campaign, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, Washington Commanders and Atlanta Falcons.
The Bucs could lose seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady in free agency or retirement. The Sam Darnold experiment in Carolina has been a failure. Carson Wentz hasn't worked out in Washington. And Marcus Mariota has been subpar in Atlanta.