While the Raiders have two games left this season — and the playoffs are still mathematically possible — their plans for this offseason appear to be clear.
Las Vegas is expected to explore trade options for quarterback Derek Carr, sources say. The veteran who has started nearly every regular season game for the Raiders since the 2014 season is almost certain to be headed to a new team for 2023.
In his place, Jarrett Stidham will start today against the 49ers, his two-game chance to make a case for next season. Meanwhile, Carr has been away from the team for the past two weeks to avoid distractions.
There are scenarios in which Carr stays with the Raiders — the 49ers unofficially said goodbye to Jimmy Garoppolo during this past offseason, and he’s still playing for them — but that’s the likely outcome for Carr.
Once the season is over, preparation for next season will begin and what happens next with Carr is in the spotlight. He is expected to join fellow established veteran starters like Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and others as QBs available through free agency or traded this offseason.
Las Vegas coach Josh McDaniels was clear about why the Raiders made the move — which owner Mark Davis said was supported by sources — while speaking to reporters last week.
“None of us are happy with where we are,” McDaniels told reporters Wednesday. “But we think it’s an opportunity to evaluate a younger player who hasn’t had a lot of playing time. Derek has been great. He understands the scenario we’re in.”
Carr, a three-time Pro Bowler, once said he would rather quit football than play for another team. But make no mistake: Carr has no plans to retire, and he has no plans to go out like this. Sources say he is telling those close to him that his best football is ahead of him.
Decisions on Carr will have to be made quickly. Under the terms of his three-year, $121.5 million extension he signed before the season, his $32.9 million base salary for 2023 and an additional $7.5 million of his base for 2024 are fully guaranteed if he’s on the roster on the third day of the waiver period — or three days after the Super Bowl.
Any decision on what to do next, whether it’s a negotiation or an outright release if a deal doesn’t come together, will come first.
While no trade could be official until the start of the league year, trades are usually agreed upon in principle before then being finalized in mid-March. Carr also has a no-trade clause in his contract, and the various sides would have to be on the same page to execute such a deal.