When the Las Vegas Raiders inked Derek Carr to a three-year, $121.5 million contract extension back in April, the team was coming off a surprise playoff appearance and had a new regime calling the shots in Sin City.
Expectations were heightened with general manager David Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels coming over from the New England Patriots. The blockbuster trade for star wide receiver Davante Adams added another layer to this.
Fast forward roughly six months, and the Raiders are coming off just their first win of the season. For all intents and purposes, said win over Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos was a season saver. Only six teams since 1979 have earned a spot in the playoffs after starting 0-3. An 0-4 record would’ve been the death knell to Vegas’ season.
But this team is nowhere near out of the woods. Carr and Co. are set to take on Patrick Mahomes and the division-rival Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead next Monday night. It is yet another must-win for a Vegas squad that is doing everything possible to get on Kansas City’s level.
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Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders need to start a winning streak
At 1-3, the Raiders find themselves two games behind Kansas City in the AFC West. They simply can’t afford to be three games back just five weeks through the season. That would relegate the Raiders to wild card contention in the AFC. It’s not an ideal scenario to close one avenue for the playoffs before we even hit mid-October.
In order for the Raiders to come away with their second consecutive win as big-time underdogs on the road, they need to continue what we saw this past Sunday against Denver. That is to say, Carr taking what’s given to him rather than forcing things and pressing.
“He took advantage of some situations, very timely. There was a lot of space and he made the right decision. He’s a good athlete, and as much as you don’t want him to run. More importantly, you don’t want him to take a bunch of unnecessary hits. And I don’t think he did that today.”Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels on Derek Carr’s Week 4 performance
Despite failing to throw a touchdown in Week 4, Carr added to the rushing game with 40 yards on seven attempts. It was a big key for Vegas. Despite this, Carr has not been at his best through four games under McDaniels.
- Derek Carr stats (2022): 61% completion, 1,038 yards, 6 TD, 4 INT, 83.2 QB rating
If this trend continues, Carr’s QB rating would be the lowest since his rookie season all the way back in 2014. That’s not the type of production McDaniels and Co. are looking for.
It’s playoffs or bust for Derek Carr and the Raiders
That’s the major backdrop here. McDaniels and Ziegler “committed” to Carr on a long-term extension this past offseason despite not having a built-in relationship with the enigmatic signal caller.
Said commitment isn’t exactly what you think it is on the surface. Vegas can get out of Carr’s contract with a mere $5.63 million dead cap hit after the 2022 season.
At that point, the Raiders would have other options moving forward. Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo will both become free agents with the former nearly having signed in Vegas ahead of the 2020 season. Lamar Jackson’s situation with the Baltimore Ravens is firmly up in the air. Meanwhile, other veterans in that of Jared Goff, Baker Mayfield and Kirk Cousins could realistically be on the move.
A loss to the Chiefs in Week 5 would send Vegas to a disastrous 1-4 mark on the season, leading to more questions about Carr’s future in Sin City. He now must put up the game of his life on national television to change this narrative.