Derek Carr is very done as the franchise quarterback for the Las Vegas Raiders.
In an emotional goodbye message to Raiders fans this week, Carr expressed his love for the silver and black but added that he is looking forward to pursuing a championship with another team. Carr will play somewhere else next season, but the question is whether he will be traded or released. The Colts, who are once again be in the market for a quarterback, will reportedly not trade for Carr, according to The Athletic.
Carr's three-year, $121.5 million contract extension he signed last spring was little more than a one-year deal and a "we'll see." An injury that wouldn't allow him to pass a physical in a couple of months would guarantee his entire $32.9 million base salary plus $7.5 million in 2024 salary.
A hard deadline on a decision for Vegas regarding Carr's future is Feb. 15. That's when the $40.4 million is locked in. They'll have to have a trade in place by that date or outright release him.
At least a quarter of the NFL figures to be in search of a new Week 1 starting quarterback in 2023, including, but not limited to, the Jets, Texans, Commanders, Panthers, Buccaneers, Titans, Falcons and Saints.
An Alex Smith-like trade would have to take place before the Super Bowl. It won't be official until the new league year in mid-March, but both sides would have to agree to it by Feb. 15.
Carr has leverage in all of this by virtue of his no-trade clause. A team may well be interested in him at his current contract, but if he doesn't want to go there, he wouldn't waive his clause. That narrows the available teams, some of whom may wait until the draft or try for a bigger fish in free agency.
The Raiders would ask for a first-round pick in exchange for Carr, who's tied with Tom Brady with nine game-winning drives over the past two seasons. The Raiders would have trouble getting that, though. At best, a second and conditional third (like the Carson Wentz deal) would emerge for Carr, who'd get a change of scenery from a team who believes enough in him to not wait another month and play Quarterback Roulette in free agency.