Could Derek Carr be sharing during Super Bowl week? The Raiders face a tough Feb. 15 deadline for a decision

While there’s a small, outside chance he’ll eventually return, Derek Carr is very likely to become the starting quarterback for the Las Vegas Raiders after this week’s bench.

Carr chose to leave the team for the last two weeks to avoid distraction. While that may be partially true, Carr also isn’t at the team’s facility to eliminate the possibility of a football-related injury that will eventually cost him $40.4 million in guaranteed salary over the next two years, according to sources .

Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels benched Carr this week while the Raiders still have a slim chance of making the playoffs. While Carr’s play certainly warranted a close inspection on a potential bench, it’s Carr’s contract that ultimately drove the decision.

The three-year, $121.5 million contract extension Carr signed last spring was little more than a one-year deal and a “we’ll see.” An injury that would keep him out of his physicals for a few months would guarantee his entire $32.9 million base salary plus $7.5 million in his 2024 salary.

So what’s next for Carr? Staying with the Raiders would definitely require a reworked contract. The Raiders aren’t saying “never,” but it’s highly unlikely.

A hard deadline for a decision on Vegas is February 15th. Then the $40.4 million is locked up. If the Raiders move on from him, they will have to trade him by that date or release him permanently.

At least a quarter of the NFL figures to be looking for a new Week 1 starting quarterback in 2023, including but not limited to the Jets, Texans, Commanders, Panthers, Buccaneers, Titans, Falcons and Saints.

A trade like Alex Smith would have to happen before the Super Bowl. It won’t be official until the new league year in mid-March, but both sides will have to agree to it by February 15.

Carr has leverage in all of this by virtue of his no-trade clause. A team may well be interested in him on his current contract, but if he doesn’t want to go there, he won’t waive his clause. That limits the available teams, some of whom may wait until the draft or try to find bigger fish in free agency.

The Raiders would ask for a first-round pick in exchange for Carr, who is tied with Tom Brady with nine game-winning catches over the past two seasons. The Raiders would have trouble figuring that out, though. At best, a second and conditional third (like the Carson Wentz deal) would occur for Carr, who would get a change of scenery from a team that believes in him enough to not wait another month and play Quarterback Roulette in free agency agencies.

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