It’s happened. It’s also not too much of a surprise. The Derek Carr era with the Las Vegas Raiders might have very well come to an end Christmas Eve in Pittsburgh.
Carr threw three second-half interceptions in that game, leading to Vegas dropping yet another close outing and pretty much falling completely out of the playoff race in the process.
The three-time Pro Bowler has now likely made his final start as a member of the Silver and Black. Head coach Josh McDaniels took to the podium in Henderson on Wednesday to discuss their quarterback situation ahead of Sunday’s home game against the San Francisco 49ers. In said presser with the media, McDaniels announced that Carr has been benched in favor of backup Jarrett Stidham.
We’re not going to bend over backwards to conclude that this is a surprise. There’s a lot of different factors that went into the Raiders’ decision-making process. Two of them come to mind first. Vegas has roughly a 1% chance of earning a playoff spot. Meanwhile, $7.5 million of Carr’s salary in 2024 becomes guaranteed if he’s injured at any point prior to that.
This move obviously signals that the Raiders have opted to move off Carr following the 2022 season despite signing the veteran to a three-year, $121.5 million extension back in April. McDaniels all but guaranteed that in talking with the media.
“There’s a lot to be sorted through once the season is over,” McDaniels told reporters on Wednesday.
Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders headed for a divorce
Even with extremely limited playoffs odds, the on-field decision here would normally be to stick with a quarterback who has been the face of your franchise since 2014. But these Raiders are playing the long game. They’re also showing their hands when it comes to the future of the quarterback position in Sin City.
- Derek Carr contract: $34.88 million cap hit in 2023; $5.63 million dead cap hit
As you can see, Vegas can release or trade Carr following the 202 campaign while saving north of $29 million against the cap. If he were injured against a league-best 49ers defense on New Year’s Day or the following week against the Kansas City Chiefs, $7.5 million in total guarantees would have headed the quarterback’s way.
It’s a sad ending to what has been a pretty darn solid career for Carr with these Raiders. He’s done everything possible to make the organization relevant. He’s held his emotions out there for the public to see. He’s put everything into this thing. But at some point, it becomes clear that divorce is inevitable. We’re heading in that direction with Derek Carr and the Raiders.