Las Vegas Raiders expected to pursue Derek Carr trade offers this offseason

The Las Vegas Raiders effectively closed the door on the Derek Carr era by benching their franchise icon before Week 17. While many expect Carr to be released early in the 2023 NFL offseason, it appears a trade is still on the table.

Carr left the team after his benching, with the veteran quarterback preparing himself for what is coming this offseason. After signing a lucrative contract extension with Las Vegas this offseason, he made it clear he wanted to play his entire career in a Raiders uniform.

  • Derek Carr stats (2022): 24-14 TD-INT, 3,522 passing yards, 60.8% completion rate

That is effectively no longer an option. Las Vegas is ready to move on from carr, especially before his contract guarantees kick in early this offseason. Before taking the ultimate final step of cutting him, though, general manager Dave Ziegler is expected to pursue a trade.

Related: Las Vegas Raiders owner influenced Derek Carr benching

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Raiders will explore all of their trade options with Carr immediately after the NFL season ends. Las Vegas is focused on seeing what is out there, hoping a quarterback-desperate team is willing to move draft capital for Carr.

“None of us is happy with where we’re at but we think it’s an opportunity to evaluate a younger player who hasn’t had much time to play. Derek was great. He understands the scenario that we’re in.”

Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels on decision to bench Derek Carr

It’s no surprise that Las Vegas wants to try and walk out of this with some form of compensation. An outright release of Carr wouldn’t be a factor into the compensatory pick formula for the 2024 NFL Draft, meaning the Raiders lose their former start for nothing.

Related: Will Derek Carr walk away from NFL after Raiders’ exit?

However, a variety of factors make it highly unlikely that Las Vegas is able to find a willing trade partner in time for a deal to happen.

Why a Derek Carr trade is unlikely

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The Raiders structured Carr’s contract to provide them with long-term flexibility, but they are also in a tight spot with the timeline to make a decision. On Feb. 15, $40.4 million of Carr’s salary is locked in and his cap hit explodes in 2023.

  • Derek Carr contract: $34.875 million cap hit (2023), $43.875 million cap hit (2024)

While a $34.875 million cap charge wouldn’t make Carr one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL, it remains a massive allocation of cap space. Teams have already seen that his ceiling is nothing higher than a top-12 quarterback and his history of struggling in cold weather is another factor working against him.

Opposing general managers hold all of the leverage in this situation. Unless Carr pulls a Jimmy Garoppolo and voluntarily takes a pay cut in February, Las Vegas will be forced to make a decision just three days after Super Bowl LVII.

Ultimately, the Raiders likely won’t find anyone willing to absorb Carr’s contract. Considering Garoppolo, Tom Brady and Geno Smith are all free agents this spring, NFL teams can afford to be patient and force the Raiders into cutting Carr.

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