Raiders Rumors: Latest Buzz on Derek Carr, Eli Apple Contract

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 26, 2020

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr looks to pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Las Vegas Raiders could have one of the most intriguing quarterback battles when training camp opens ahead of the 2020 NFL season.

The relocated franchise brought in Marcus Mariota during free agency to compete with Derek Carr, who has been the starting quarterback since 2014. 

According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the Raiders "kept all options open at quarterback" before finalizing a deal with Mariota to back up Carr.

Fowler also noted that he believed the Raiders were one of eight teams to inquire about Tom Brady before he landed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Adding to the quarterback depth chart was one of the few offensive moves the Raiders made during the first week of free agency. 

General manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden primarily focused on the defense, where they improved all three layers of the unit.

                          

Latest Raiders Buzz

Derek Carr

According to Fowler, "the Raiders didn't actively shop Carr" on the trade market. 

He also mentioned the potential interest from around the league in the 28-year-old confirmed belief in the quarterback's skill set.

"Las Vegas also believes it's not far away and wasn't going to overreact, and the fact other teams would have pounced on a Carr trade reminded the Raiders they had a good player at the position," Fowler wrote. 

Carr has put up back-to-back 4,000-yard seasons, but he managed 40 touchdown passes in that span. 

To compete with the Kansas City Chiefs and fend off challenges from the Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos in the AFC West, the Raiders need more scoring production out of him.

Carr's career high in touchdown passes is 32 from the 2015 campaign and the closest he has gotten to matching that total was 2016 when he had 28 touchdowns. 

The Raiders can justify paying him $21.5 million in 2020 as long as he improves his totals with weapons put around him.

In addition to Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller, the Raiders could add a wide receiver with either the No. 12 or No. 19 overall pick in the draft. 

If Carr does not impress, the Raiders could switch to Mariota, who is on track to make $7.5 million this season.

He struggled in his final season with the Tennessee Titans, with seven touchdown passes over seven games before he was replaced by Ryan Tannehill.

A change of scenery could benefit the 26-year-old, and he may find himself in a similar situation to Tannehill in 2020.

If the Raiders believe they are close to being a contender in the AFC playoff hunt, they need consistency out of the game's most important position.

It appears they have faith in Carr to start the season, but if Mariota shines in training camp and Carr stumbles to start the campaign, the Raiders could make a switch to remain competitive. 

           

Eli Apple

According to The MMQB's Albert Breer, Eli Apple is scheduled to make $6 million on his one-year deal, which would make him a lock to make the roster. 

If the Raiders brought him in at a cheaper cost, they might afford to release the 24-year-old if he failed to impress during preseason.

Apple recorded 75 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and a pair of interceptions while splitting time between the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints in 2019. 

He was not as coveted as Byron Jones or Chris Harris Jr., but he could still improve the Las Vegas secondary alongside second-year player Trayvon Mullen. The Raiders also added safety Jeff Heath to partner Johnathan Abram, and they still have Lamarcus Joyner on the roster. 

The secondary additions will try to fix a passing defense that conceded the eighth-most passing yards in the NFL in 2019. 

Since Las Vegas has two first-round picks and filled its linebacker need in free agency, it could choose a defensive back to solidify that depth. 

If the Raiders get the most out of veterans Apple and Heath and see progression from the younger players, the secondary could take a step forward in 2020.

            

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.

Contract information obtained from Spotrac.

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