Hammering out a trade centered around Derek Carr might be easier said than done for the Las Vegas Raiders because of the star quarterback's hefty salary commitments moving forward.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Thursday the Raiders "will begin the process of evaluating the trade market" for Carr. The three-time Pro Bowler also wrote a goodbye letter to Raiders fans, so his exit is all but inevitable.
While Carr figures to have a robust market based on his reputation, any team that acquires him in a trade will have to assume the three-year, $121 million extension he signed with the Raiders ahead of the 2022 season.
Field Yates @FieldYates
If a team were to trade for Derek Carr, here is what it would owe him on his current deal:<br><br>2023: $32.9M base salary + $100K workout bonus = $33M cap hit<br>2024: $41.9M base salary + $100K workout bonus = $42M cap hit<br>2025: $41.2M base salary + $100K workout bonus = $41.3M cap hit
Under normal circumstances, Las Vegas could play the waiting game until a general manager became desperate enough.
The Raiders might be unceremoniously showing Carr the door after benching him toward the end of the year, but he represents a quick fix for a franchise in need of quarterback help. There's going to be demand for a QB who threw for 3,522 yards, 24 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 15 starts and finished with a 55.5 QBR this season.
Two factors will complicate any trade negotiations, though.
One, everybody knows the Raiders are working against a ticking clock. If they cut or trade Carr now, then they'd save $29.3 million toward the 2023 salary cap while absorbing $5.6 million in dead money. Should he remain on the roster through Feb. 15, he has $40.4 million in guaranteed money that is locked in for next year.
Carr's no-trade clause is the other possible hurdle for Las Vegas. Signing off on a trade would allow him to carry his current contract over, but hitting free agency provides more flexibility to pick his next destination. He effectively holds all of the cards.
Waiting until mid-February and forcing the Raiders to make a tough decision presents the most straightforward play for anybody with Carr on their radar.
Maybe Las Vegas holds on to the 31-year-old, but the writing seems to be on the wall at this point.
The situation isn't the same as when the San Francisco 49ers restructured Jimmy Garoppolo's contract to keep him around for 2022. The Niners maintained throughout the process they were content to stand pat, unlike the Raiders implicitly moving on from Carr. San Francisco didn't have a firm deadline to finalize its choice, either.
Whatever transpires, Carr's fate in Las Vegas should be sealed within the next few weeks.