Derek Carr Extension Is Right Move for All-In Raiders

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistApril 14, 2022

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) signals the sidelines during an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Zach Bolinger)
Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

Las Vegas Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler didn't take over the team to watch the Kansas City Chiefs win more AFC West division titles. Within four months, he's implemented an all-in approach, which has led him to check another box on the team's offseason agenda: making a commitment to quarterback Derek Carr.

On Wednesday, Carr signed a three-year, $121.5 million extension with a no-trade clause, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo. The signal-caller's new deal suggests that the team believes it can win with the current roster, though the contract's structure gives the front office some flexibility if the plan goes awry.

Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio broke down details of Carr's extension.

"Per a source with knowledge of the terms, the Raiders have basically given Carr a $3.9 million raise for 2022 and a significant injury guarantee for 2023 and beyond, in exchange for the flexibility to cut him after one season, if they so choose. 

Carr was due to make $21 million in 2022, the last year of his contract. He'll now make $24.9 million, fully guaranteed. Another $40.4 million is guaranteed for injury until the third day of the 2023 waiver period."

Both sides agreed to a give-and-take structure.

Carr's contract ranks fifth among quarterbacks in average annual value at $40.5 million, per Spotrac. He's the seventh signal-caller to sign a deal that averages $40-plus million annually.

While a no-trade clause doesn't mean Carr and the Raiders will remain stuck together for the length of his entire deal that runs through 2025, he has more control over his NFL future.

Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap shared the figures for the contract guarantees and injury protection.

Jason_OTC @Jason_OTC

Injury guarantee will rank 13th between his prior deal ($70.2M) and Jimmy Garoppolo's ($74.1M)

Based on the available details of Carr's deal, the Raiders paid him at a fair market rate and covered him for injury—which is important when you weigh the fact that he took 40 sacks behind a subpar offensive line last year. Plus, he doesn't have to continuously hear his name tossed around in trade rumors without any power or influence over his career plan.

In return, the Raiders secured the most important position on the roster, and they can pivot after a one-year trial with only $5.6 million in dead money remaining on the contract. For now, though, Las Vegas should expect Carr to play his best football going forward.

According to Rapoport, who appeared on the Pat McAfee Show, Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels had eyes on Carr during their time with the New England Patriots as the director of player personnel and offensive coordinator, respectively.

WrestleMania Pat McAfee @PatMcAfeeShow

"Josh McDaniels has always been a fan of Derek Carr.. as soon as he took the job they wanted to get this extension done" ~@RapSheet #PMSLive https://t.co/0o4OZFxD8D

Team brass should go into the upcoming season with raised expectations for the signal-caller because of the blockbuster deal that the club pulled off with the Green Bay Packers for two-time All-Pro wideout Davante Adams, Carr's former teammate at Fresno State for two seasons.

Per the MMQB's Albert Breer, the Adams trade added fuel to the contract talks with Carr:

Albert Breer @AlbertBreer

The real turning point in talks between the Raiders and Derek Carr: The Davante Adams trade. Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler had been selling Carr and his camp on the idea of doing a Tom Brady type deal, so they could build around him. Landing Adams led Carr to buy in on that. https://t.co/vQq8OjDlvc

Once the Raiders acquired Adams, we should've assumed that the team would come to an agreement with Carr's agent, Tim Younger, on a "sweet spot" in negotiations. However, as Breer pointed out, the trade deal also fostered some trust in the administration's roster-building plan.

Between Carr and team brass, the trust should go both ways. Ziegler and McDaniels saw what the Raiders quarterback accomplished despite suboptimal and unfortunate circumstances last year.

Even though he faced constant pressure behind a reconstructed offensive line, went through a midseason coaching change with Jon Gruden's resignation, lost wideout Henry Ruggs III because of DUI charges from a November car crash that resulted in the death of 23-year-old Tina Tintor and played through December without star tight end Darren Waller, Carr still averaged a career-high 282.6 passing yards per game and helped lead Vegas to the playoffs with six game-winning drives (second-most leaguewide).

In 2021, Carr only had wideout Hunter Renfrow as his most reliable pass-catching option. Now, Vegas has added arguably the league's best wide receiver, and the pair could pick up where they left off in 2013 at Fresno State.

Las Vegas Raiders @Raiders

“He’s one of my best friends in the whole world.” @Derekcarrqb 🤝 @tae15adams https://t.co/O7DPmzF4E6

The Carr-Adams connection alone is enough to put the Raiders in Super Bowl contention following a 10-7 season that ended in a 26-19 wild-card playoff loss to the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals

Though Vegas needs more than a high-level quarterback-wide receiver duo to win a title, Ziegler has fine-tuned the roster for the short- and long-term future.

The Raiders signed Maxx Crosby to an extension and added two-time All-Pro Chandler Jones to field a dynamic pass-rushing duo—a shrewd counter for quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Russell Wilson in the division.

They added Bilal Nichols and Vernon Butler to beef up the defensive line. Rock Ya-Sin, whom the team acquired in exchange for Yannick Ngakoue in a trade deal with the Indianapolis Colts, and Anthony Averett will compete to replace cornerback Casey Hayward on the boundary of the secondary.

Other than question marks along the offensive line, which the team can address on Days 2 and 3 of the draft or with late free-agent additions in the spring, the Raiders have the roster pieces to take the next step in the postseason.

That's why the deal for Carr makes sense.

Ziegler didn't have a reason to stall negotiations in a period of uncertainty or break up a playoff squad that needed a couple of top-notch playmakers to push toward the ultimate goal—hoisting a Lombardi Trophy.

With deals that span 3-5 years for Carr, Adams, Crosby and Jones, the Raiders' new regime has brought a sense of urgency and continuity to the organization after decades of turnover:

Field Yates @FieldYates

The Raiders have been SPENDING this offseason: QB Derek Carr: 3-years, $121.5M WR Davante Adams: 5-years, $142.5M DE Maxx Crosby: 4-years, $98.98M Edge Chandler Jones: 3-years, $51M 💰 💰 💰

In front of the media Wednesday, Carr spoke about the importance of stability. 

"Everyone looks at certain numbers, they're not going to get the whole picture of how it's structured and how we did things. … We made sure guys like Chandler, guys like Davante, guys like, hopefully, Hunter and Foster [Moreau] and those guys can stay here the way we structured it. I went through a heartbreak already last time I signed my contract. My best friend left [Khalil Mack]. I didn't want that to ever happen again."

Coming off a playoff run with a dried-up quarterback market, Carr could've pushed for a more favorable contract, but the reported figures and the flexibility in the deal will allow the Raiders to tweak the roster in an effort to capitalize on a win-now window that opened following splashy acquisitions and extensions in the offseason.

Clearly, Ziegler isn't afraid to spend money on roster cornerstones and pursue top players at their positions. The Raiders needed that approach to end a cycle of rebuilds and jump into the Super Bowl discussion.


Player contracts are provided by Spotrac.com

Maurice Moton covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.