Did the Raiders Keep the Wrong $20 Million Dollar Man?

derek carr khalil mack oakland raiders

Yes, it was just one game but the implosion of Derek Carr in the second half has our own Elias Trejo asking some difficult questions about the Raiders roster decisions.

The cap isn’t big enough for two $20 million dollar men according to Jon Gruden and Reggie McKenzie.

The Raiders are currently taking a $25 million dollar cap hit in 2018 for Derek Carr. Khalil Mack is currently taking up $18 Million of the Bears salary cap. When the Mack trade was made with the Bears, one of the reasons used to justify it was they couldn’t afford to keep both contracts if Oakland wanted to build a better roster. The question is did they keep the right guy?

Carr’s record as a starter is 28-35. He’s never been top-five in touchdown passes, never been Top 10 in completion percentage or yards per attempt. He has made three Pro Bowls in his first four years as a quarterback and is the best quarterback the franchise has had in over a decade but does that mean he was worth more money than Drew Brees or Ben Roethlisberger, who have each won a Super Bowl and have more playoff wins?

Mack is without a doubt a top-five player at his position and he could be the best player in the NFL. His production and impact in games justify his contract. However, despite his great production, it hasn’t led to many wins for his team. Despite having an amazing game against the Packers on Sunday Night Football, the Bears couldn’t pull off the win. Aaron Rodgers, the highest paid quarterback in NFL history, showed why the quarterback position is more important than any defensive position in the league.

derek carr oakland raiders any given monday questions
Derek Carr had a horrendous half of football Monday night. Does that mean he’s not the long-term solution in Oakland?

Carr signed his contract after an MVP campaign that ended with a broken fibula in 2016. At the time it was the richest contract in NFL history. He was signed before he headed into the final year of his contract. The difference between Mack and Carr was that Carr showed up to the offseason programs. He showed his value and reminded the coaches and front office what he meant to the team. Mack did not do that and it’s one of the reasons he was traded. He could have shown his new coaching staff what he looked like in person and built a relationship. Instead, he was hoping to do it all over the phone.

The 2014 NFL Draft was a great one for the Raiders. They drafted a potential Hall of Famer in Mack in the first round. They drafted Carr, a franchise quarterback in the second round. They also picked up Gabe Jackson and Justin Ellis. They signed three out of their best four players from that draft, but let the best one go.

Was that the right choice?

After the first week of the 2018 NFL season, Mack made a statement. He scored a touchdown on an interception. He had a strip sack and fumble recovery. The man appeared to be on a mission to show his old team that they made a mistake. He did it on primetime on Sunday night in front of the whole world. It was Carr’s turn on Monday Night Football a day later and unfortunately, it didn’t go the way the Raiders or Carr hoped.

He ended the night with three interceptions on bad passes and failed to throw a touchdown. His offense was held to only 13 points and his top two wide receivers weren’t targeted often enough and many felt he looked jittery in the pocket.  There’s been a long debate about Carr and whether he truly is a franchise quarterback worthy of being one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the league.

He has the third largest cap number for quarterbacks in 2018. His contract is the sixth largest as far as an average salary per year for all quarterbacks. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, and Philip Rivers are all making less than Carr despite being more accomplished. Did the Raiders jump the gun when they extended Carr?

khalil Mack Oakland Raiders chicago bears
Khalil Mack was traded out of Oakland partly because he didn’t show up for 2018 camp. Was it a mistake to trade the likely future Hall of Famer?

Carr’s record as a starter is 28-35. He’s never been top-five in touchdown passes, never been Top 10 in completion percentage or yards per attempt. He has made three Pro Bowls in his first four years as a quarterback and is the best quarterback the franchise has had in over a decade but does that mean he was worth more money than Drew Brees or Ben Roethlisberger, who have each won a Super Bowl and have more playoff wins?

Carr has great arm talent, is a solid guy off the field, is a great leader and he takes care of the ball. Those are qualities you want in a player and one of the main reasons he earned the contract he received. However, has his production warranted the size of the contract he received and was it worth losing a future Hall of Famer over?

Carr’s production over the next two years will be a huge factor in how we see this Mack trade. As of now, nobody thinks the Mack trade was worth it. The two draft picks received may not generate a player of Mack’s caliber. If Carr’s game on opening night is indicative of how the season will go the Raiders have a problem on their hands.

Carr looked shaky in the pocket and was quick to get rid of the football and throw it away. Perhaps his previous injuries have subconsciously affected the way he plays. Maybe that was the game plan against the Rams dangerous defensive front. Whatever it was, it led to a very poor performance in the second half. Make no mistake about it, Gruden was out-coached by Wade Philips in the second half as well. However, the interceptions thrown were at crucial moments and Gruden can’t help Carr in the pocket.

Needless to say, the reactions on Twitter weren’t surprising. Some even went as far as throwing out the idea that the Raiders could get out of Carr’s contract pretty cheaply if they needed to.

Sportrac recently tweeted:

If the Raiders sacrificed Mack because of Carr’s contract and end up having to use one of those draft picks from the Mack trade to draft a quarterback, then the Raiders will have a hard time getting over the fact they let a future Hall of Famer go in order to keep a quarterback that may not have been what we all hoped he would be.

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