Derek Carr landing spots 2023: Jets, Colts among best fits if Raiders trade long-time QB after benching

By | December 28, 2022

The Raiders made a key decision about the future of their franchise with just two games left in the 2022 NFL season.

Las Vegas decided to bench the team’s long-time starter, Derek Carr, in favor of fourth-year backup Jarrett Stidham.

Carr had started the first 15 games of the season for the Raiders and had been their primary starter since being drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He had started 143 of a possible 146 games during that time, playoffs included, and hadn’t missed a start since 2017.

Raiders coach Josh McDaniels was largely mum about Carr’s future at his Wednesday news conference. He acknowledged there was no “finality” in his decision to bench Carr, but he also implied that Carr’s time in Las Vegas could be coming to an end.

“There’s a lot to be sorted through once the season is over,” McDaniels said.

MORE: Why did the Raiders bench Derek Carr? Breaking down Las Vegas’ surprising decision

It would appear that the Raiders are leaning toward parting with Carr. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that a potential trade was a big part of Las Vegas’ decision to sit Carr for the final two games.

That also helps to explain why undrafted rookie Chase Garbers, not Carr, will serve as the backup to Stidham.

If the Raiders do trade Carr, he should garner interest on the trade block. After all, he has been a solid starting quarterback during his career, posting a 63-79 record with a 64.6 completion percentage, 35,222 passing yards, 217 touchdowns and 99 interceptions.

But where could Carr land? Here are a handful of spots that could make sense for the soon-to-be 32-year-old veteran if Las Vegas decides not to keep him.

New York Jets

It’s no secret that the Jets are going to be looking for a quarterback during the 2023 NFL offseason. Zach Wilson has been a major bust to date after being the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and has been benched in favor of Mike White, who is set to be a free agent. The team could re-sign White but even if it does, New York may want a more proven commodity at quarterback.

Carr has had some accuracy issues in 2022 that will make some Jets fans shudder, but he has generally been a solid, capable passer who can get his team to the playoffs. The Jets may prefer to pursue Jimmy Garoppolo, but Carr certainly wouldn’t be a bad fallback option.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts haven’t been afraid to acquire veteran quarterbacks in recent offseasons. They signed Philip Rivers in 2020, traded for Carson Wentz in 2021 and traded for Matt Ryan in 2022 while parting ways with Wentz. Indianapolis could look to break that cycle if it lands an early draft pick, but if not, Carr could be of interest to them.

Carr’s league-high 14 interceptions could be a drawback for the Colts, as Matt Ryan, Nick Foles and Sam Ehlinger have struggled with turnovers and sacks in 2022. Still, if the team’s next coach believes he can get Carr back on a more accurate track, Carr could draw consideration for this opening.

MORE: Where is Philip Rivers now? Former Chargers, Colts starter embraces role away from NFL

Carolina Panthers

Carolina is similar to the other teams atop this list in that it shuffled its starting quarterback frequently over the last five seasons. Sam Darnold has actually been solid in his opportunities during the 2022 season, but he is set to be a free agent after the season.

As such, the Panthers could look to find an upgrade if they don’t believe Darnold, 25, is worth re-signing. Carr would pair well with D.J. Moore and could find more success in Carolina’s ground-dominant attack than he did in Las Vegas.

Washington Commanders

The Commanders are teetering on the edge of playoff contention again despite having little to nothing at the quarterback position. Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke rank 30th and 34th out of 35 qualified passers according to Pro Football Focus, so improving this position will be of the utmost importance to Ron Rivera in 2023.

Washington’s offense is built to win now. It has plenty of weapons — including Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel — so it can afford to deal assets for a quarterback more than some other teams might.

Meanwhile, Commanders defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio was Carr’s head coach from 2015 through 2017, a time during which Carr made three consecutive Pro Bowls. Del Rio could know a bit of what makes Carr tick, so that relationship could make Washington the best landing spot on this list.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints are another team that has a connection to Carr, albeit a shorter one than that of Del Rio. Head coach Dennis Allen coached the Raiders from 2012 to 2014, and he was the one who made Carr a rookie starter. Allen lasted just four games that season, but clearly, he saw enough in Carr at that time to roll with him.

Carr could fit well in New Orleans given that the Saints need an upgrade over 35-year-old Andy Dalton that Jameis Winston hasn’t provided. The Saints would have to work hard to open the cap space needed to pursue Carr, but without a first-round pick, this could be their best path to a quarterback upgrade.

MORE: NFL picks and predictions for Week 17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A third NFC South team? Why not? The Buccaneers could lose Tom Brady to free agency after the season and if they do, they may want to find a veteran quarterback capable of keeping their playoff chances afloat.

Carr may not be a perfect fit for the Buccaneers’ pass-happy offense, but he would have plenty of weapons at his disposal to find success in 2023. Plus, the Bucs offensive line would be healthier, so he would probably get better protection than Brady has gotten thus far this season.

Either way, Tampa Bay could sell its fans that getting Carr should do enough to keep them in the playoff picture, especially with the bleak state of the NFC South quarterback rooms.

New England Patriots

Here’s an outside-the-box idea for the Raiders. Mac Jones’ second season with the Patriots hasn’t gone as planned, and New England’s next steps to fix the offense aren’t yet known. It’s expected that the team will hire a new offensive coordinator to oversee the unit, but could they look to move on from Jones, too? It’s at least a possibility.

If that happens, McDaniels may be content to reunite with Jones, who performed well as a rookie under the tutelage of the then-Patriots offensive coordinator. If so, executing a Carr for Jones swap may interest both sides.

This scenario would require the Patriots to value Carr’s skill set, and whether they do is still unknown. Still, it’s something that shouldn’t be counted out, especially considering that Carr should be able to take advantage of the ground-dominant offense that the Patriots run.

Arizona Cardinals

And here’s one more strange idea. The Cardinals could already be regretting the contract that they gave to Kyler Murray, especially after the quarterback tore his ACL against the Patriots. They could try to move on from him, but it may be hard to find any takers for his enormous five-year, $230.5 million contract.

The Raiders might not glaringly stand out as a team that would want to do that given the rumors that they are cash-poor. However, if they see an opportunity to offload Carr’s contract of three years, $121.5 million while landing a potential upgrade, they may take it. Either that or they could swing a three-team deal with the Cardinals that sends Murray elsewhere, gives Arizona Carr and gives the Raiders a boatload of draft picks.

This is probably among the least likely options for the Raiders, but it’s one just to bookmark.

Either way, there should be no shortage of interest in Carr. Even if he isn’t the best quarterback available on the market, he is a viable starting option. As we saw during the 2022 NFL offseason, that will be enough to land him with a new team — should the Raiders decide to trade him.