Jon Gruden Praises Derek Carr, Says Raiders Are 'Anxious' to Build Around Him

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2020

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr speaks after an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

As speculation continues to swirl about a flirtation with Tom Brady, Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden is publicly sticking with Derek Carr. 

"Consistent on what I have said. I really think Derek is a heck of a player," Gruden told Vic Tafur of The Athletic. "And I have a lot of respect for what he has done and with some tough circumstances. So I'm not going answer every media rumor out there—just can't do it. I'm just going to listen to my Sirius rock 'n roll classic vinyl and keep working. But I love what Derek Carr did, love what he brings to our team and anxious to continue to build around him."

Vic Tafur @VicTafur

Jon Gruden says he plans to keep rocking out with Derek Carr: #Raiders https://t.co/2oC4QHk3Uy

The Raiders would save $16.5 million in cap room next season by trading Carr, who would not have a shortage of suitors if Las Vegas wound up making a splash in free agency. Gruden's affinity for Brady is well known, and Brady was pictured talking to Raiders owner Mark Davis at UFC 246.

"I mean, there was a lot of quarterbacks at that fight," Carr said told Paul Gutierrez of ESPN. "And there was a lot of football players at that fight that are free agents. And it's like, every time, with my job, it's always a story. No matter what. And knowing some people that were around, I even know what the conversation was [between Davis and Brady], and it's like, 'C'mon, man, when's it going to end?'"

Carr threw for 4,054 yards and 21 touchdowns against eight interceptions in 2019. His counting stats nearly mirrored Brady's (4,057 yards, 24 touchdowns, eight interceptions), but Carr completed 70.4 percent of his passes to Brady's 60.8 and averaged 1.3 more yards per attempt.

By nearly every objective measure, Carr was the better quarterback last season. The Raiders are also not working with an elite wide receiving corps, so those blaming Brady's supporting cast last season lack much footing in a head-to-head comparison. Carr is also 14 years younger than Brady, which matters for the whole longevity of the franchise thing.

Brady's appeal is obvious and would be more financially beneficial than anything. The Raiders opening a brand-new stadium in Las Vegas with the most famous football player on the planet would instantly goose ticket sales and perhaps even make the team a tourist attraction. 

From a football standpoint, though, there's not much argument in this version of Brady's favor.