Does Derek Carr Deserve Another Contract Extension?

Derek Carr Las Vegas Raiders
Jan 3, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws a two point conversion pass in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

On June 22, 2017, the then Oakland Raiders extended Derek Carr to a five-year $125.5 million deal. A deal making him the highest-paid player in the NFL. What they got in return has been mixed results. Now the question is, should they do it again?

Media reports have indicated Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is looking for a contract extension paying him upwards of $30 million per year.

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) against the Miami Dolphins at Allegiant Stadium. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The question is: does Derek Carr deserve it?

Statistically speaking, Derek Carr’s numbers the past two seasons make a solid case for it. Conversely, numbers don’t always tell the whole story and the Raiders continue to disappoint on the field unable to win more under Carr and failed to miss the playoffs again in 2021.

Winning and losing are a team effort, but Carr is the main constant for the last seven years. In that seven years, the Carr-led Raiders have had one winning record and one trip to the playoffs. That’s not exactly a resume to ask the boss for a big raise.

What is Carr’s ROI?

A .500 record in the NFL is like being trapped in Purgatory. You’re not good enough to make it to the postseason, and you’re not bad enough to secure a coveted Top 10 NFL draft pick.

It’s time for the Las Vegas Raiders to do things differently than what the Oakland Raiders did. Wealthy men don’t become wealthy by hanging on to investments that don’t yield a return. In fact, business sharks are quick to cut bait on underperforming assets. Successful franchises identify when the time has come to move on from a productive player.

Carr, statistically, has been the best quarterback in the history of the Raiders franchise, no matter where it hung its hat at home. Carr leads the Raiders in every major passing category but his overall record doesn’t reflect it. Since signing a five-year $125 million deal in 2017, Carr’s record has netted the Raiders 25 wins against 38 losses. That includes not one winning season and the continued dry spell in making the playoffs.

That’s not to say Carr hasn’t improved over that time. He certainly has progressed year after year in the offensive system and under the tutelage of Jon Gruden. He has produced three straight 4,000+ yard passing seasons and increased the number of touchdowns he has thrown every year. His QBR has increased every season along with his rating. Even Carr’s rushing yards and rushing touchdowns have increased every season.

Yet, despite all that “success” on the field, it hasn’t yielded the one thing above all else that defines the Raiders organization: Al Davis’ driving mantra – Just win, baby.

Deja Vu’ All Over Again with Carr

Longtime Raiders fans and observers look at 2021 as a sort of deja vu to earlier Raiders’ missteps and personnel failings. Like before, we see Carr coming off of a career year. Offensively, the team appears ready to take that next step towards becoming elite. The front office is preparing to award Carr a large contract extension without him having won a playoff game.

Continuing with this particular exercise, keep your hands raised if you’ve heard the Raiders were talking about trading Carr. Every offseason since Gruden’s arrival there is always talk about whether or not he punts on his quarterback. One can take it a step further and reference when there was talks about whether or not they would be able to co-exist when it was announced Gruden was taking over.

The reality is, the Raiders have collapsed after starting the season with a record of 6-4 through 10 weeks for the second year in a row. The only difference being a single game improvement to finishing (8-8). Once again, heading into another offseason, there is talk about what Derek Carr needs to have around him in order to win. It’s the same song Raider Nation has been singing since the 2018 offseason.

The Raiders Low Cost, High Return Option?

As Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski wrote, the Raiders’ current approach isn’t working. The Raiders can’t sustain an effort resulting in consistent winning football. Despite their captain’s best efforts to lead his troops into battle, on days other than Sunday it isn’t working. Team accountability has continued to plague the Raiders, and “Dad voice,” isn’t reaching the younger players on this team.

When Derek Carr injured his groin in week 15 against the Los Angeles Chargers, back up Marcus Mariota finally got a chance to play. The result was electrifying. Mariota provided a spark to what had been a lethargic offense down the stretch. Displaying natural chemistry with tight end Darren Waller, better pocket awareness and escapability, and gifted as a runner, Mariota showed what Gruden could do with a different style of QB in his offense.

Some will say Mariota isn’t on Derek Carr’s level. Others would point to the fact the Raiders didn’t win the game as a detriment to making a move to Mariota. Even though the Raiders put up 27 points with Mariota coming off the bench. Without any significant snaps with the offense, inn three-plus quarters of action, other teams in need of a quarterback, saw enough of him to want to inquire about trading for him. Is he a perfect quarterback? No. But, he doesn’t have to be.

Perhaps the whole reason Mariota was paid handsomely to wear the silver and black last season. It gives Gruden and Mayock options if they decide to move on. That appears unlikely right now, but it’s still in the realm of possibility.

Could the Raider Look for Major Upgrade at QB?

A contingent of Derek Carr on the move is getting a player of equal or greater value. While the $19.6 million Carr is owed would be enough to get the Raiders back underneath the 2021 salary cap, it’s still a very team-friendly deal for a starting quarterback. One unbecoming for the statistics he has produced in the NFL.

CBS Sports Jason La Canfora was the first to report on Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s unhappiness with the team. Not only did La Canfora report on this, but he also said he believes the Raiders are one of the teams that had would make the most sense as a landing spot.

Quieting the rumors

Quarterback rumors are nothing new to fans, Carr, Gruden, and the Raiders. Despite all the noise surrounding the Raiders, they are most likely going to keep Derek Carr and even extend his contract. Carr’s trade value may be as high as it ever will be, but Gruden isn’t starting over unless he’s got an offer he can’t refuse. The bounty the Detroit Lions received for Matthew Stafford isn’t a price the Raiders could afford to go get a Deshaun Watson or Wilson.

Will Derek Carr get his extension this year? Probably not, unless one of a few things happen. Either he is taking an even more team friendly deal moving forward, or Carr begins to hold out. No matter what his statistics say, extending him for market value with two years remaining on his deal at less than $20M per would not be wise.