Derek Carr continues his free-agent journey this offseason after the Las Vegas Raiders released him, and a few teams have already emerged as front-runners to sign him.
The New York Jets, New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers are those three teams at the top that appear the most interested in the veteran signal-caller’s talents for next season and beyond.
However, ESPN reported that “at least two other teams have reached out on Carr in recent weeks,” which is why his free agency is expected to go into next week.
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Carr’s advantage is being able to speak with teams now instead of the usual legal tampering period just before the start of the new league year on March 15. That occurred because of the Raiders’ release.
What two other teams could be in the running for Carr? The Indianapolis Colts have had their run with veteran quarterbacks in recent years (Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz), but neither worked out. They may think the third time’s the charm, but they do own the No. 4 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, which could give them a shot at a rookie quarterback.
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The Washington Commanders traded for Wentz last year, but they eventually went to Taylor Heinicke and then rookie Sam Howell in the final game of the season. While Howell has been named QB1, who knows if they’re actually in the market for a veteran instead?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are also a team to watch in the free-agent market because of Tom Brady’s retirement. Blaine Gabbert is also a free agent, making Kyle Trask, who has attempted only nine NFL throws thus far in his early career, the only quarterback on the depth chart.
But the Saints and Jets appear to be very invested in Carr. ESPN added that the Saints “remain motivated” to sign Carr, whom they welcomed for a visit before he was released by Vegas. They have solid weapons, including rookie standout Chris Olave, to work with and a good defense to turn things around from a down 2022 campaign.
Then, there’s the Jets, who can also provide good, young weapons on both sides of the ball. They looked to be set up for their first playoff appearance since 2010, but if we’re being honest, the quarterback position held them back.
Zach Wilson was expected to take a step forward with the likes of Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall and others surrounding him. GM Joe Douglas beefed up the offensive line and the defense under head coach Robert Saleh looked more like many thought it would in Year 2. Alas, quarterback woes led to Wilson’s benching twice and the Jets finished 7-10.
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The Jets’ interest in Aaron Rodgers makes things “more complicated” compared to the Saints, according to ESPN.
Either way, Carr will have options. The 31-year-old will be entering his 10th NFL season, and he’s shown the ability to make big plays and get the job done on game day.
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It was a down 2022 season under new head coach Josh McDaniels (3,522 yards, 24 touchdowns, 14 interceptions), but two years ago, Carr threw for 4,804 yards with 23 touchdowns to 14 picks on his way to leading the Raiders to the postseason.