Raiders release QB Derek Carr before contract deadline

ByPaul Gutierrez ESPN logo
Tuesday, February 14, 2023

HENDERSON, Nev. -- The Las Vegas Raiders releasedDerek Carr on Tuesday after the veteran quarterback declined to waive his no-trade clause and just before more than $40 million of his contract would have become guaranteed.

"We wish the @Raiders the best of luck," Carr's agent, Tim Younger, said in a tweeted statement. "This is the tough part of this business. That's the point; it's just business. Time now to reset for both sides. Derek chooses to hold on to many good memories and friendships, without any ill will. That's who he is. Onward and upward."

As such, Carr, who said in 2021 he would "probably" retire rather than play for a team other than the Raiders, hits the open market a month before the start of the NFL's new league year, on March 15. And the Raiders, who have only one quarterback under contract,Chase Garbers, are searching for a full-time starter at QB for the first time since Carr won the job as a rookie in 2014.

"We have a lot of respect for Derek Carr and what he has meant to the Raiders organization for the last nine years," Raiders coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler said in a joint statement. "Derek has done great things in this league and we're thankful to have been able to work with him this past year. He is a true professional and we appreciate his hard work in striving to produce the results we all desire. We wish Derek and his family all the best in the future."

Per sources, only one team was interested in a trade for Carr and that team wanted him to take a pay cut. Carr, who turns 32 on March 28, visited with the New Orleans Saints last week.

Had Carr still been on Las Vegas' roster Wednesday, his full $32.9 million salary for 2023 would have become guaranteed, as would $7.5 million of his $41.9 million salary for 2024. So, by cutting him, the Raiders are off the hook for $40.4 million while taking a $5.6 million salary-cap hit and freeing up $29.3 million in salary-cap space.

As such, any contract Carr ultimately signs will give a sense to his actual value around the league, in comparison to the $40.4 million the Raiders would have owed him.

Carr played for six head coaches in nine seasons with the Raiders -- Dennis Allen, Tony Sparano, Jack Del Rio, Jon Gruden, Rich Bisaccia and McDaniels. He had five offensive playcallers -- Greg Olson, Bill Musgrave, Todd Downing, Gruden, Olson again and McDaniels -- and had a bottom-feeding defense for most of his tenure.

Carr went 63-79 and took two teams to the playoffs without a win, although he missed the 2016 wild-card round game at Houston after breaking his right ankle in the season's next-to-last game.

Selected in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Fresno State at No. 36, Carr was the fourth QB taken that year, behind Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater. Carr is 12-44 against playoff teams and has issues in cold-weather games, going 2-10 with a total QBR of 33.6 (44th out of 47 qualified QBs), a 58.0% completion percentage and a 14-14 touchdown-to-interception ratio in games where the temperature is 40 degrees or colder. He is 1-7 with a 35.5 QBR (35th out of 46 QBs) and an 8-9 TD-INT ratio when the game is played at 32 degrees or colder.

Carr won the job in training camp his first year, overtaking veteran Matt Schaub, and set virtually every passing record in Raiders franchise history, including 35,222 passing yards and 217 TD passes.

And with the Raiders' new regime of McDaniels and Ziegler, Carr was signed to a three-year, $121.5 million extension last spring that included a no-trade clause, as well as the "out" for the team.

With two games remaining in what turned out to be a prove-it season under McDaniels, and with the Raiders still mathematically alive for the playoffs, Carr was benched. He left the team in what was described as a "mutual decision" and bade farewell to Raiders fans in social media posts and reiterated his thoughts when he participated in the Pro Bowl Games, his fourth Pro Bowl selection, third as an alternate.

Carr, who has missed only two games to injury in his career, finished the 2022 season with 3,522 passing yards (the third-lowest mark of his nine-year career), 24 touchdown passes, 14 interceptions (tied for the most in a single season), a 60.8% completion percentage (a career low) and an 86.3 passer rating (a career low).

With Carr benched, Las Vegas started Jarrett Stidham the final two games, but Stidham is scheduled to hit free agency. The Raiders have been linked to veterans Tom Brady (before he retired), Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Las Vegas, projected to have as many as 11 picks in April's draft, holds the No. 7 selection, although the top three QB prospects -- Ohio State's C.J. Stroud, Alabama's Bryce Young and Kentucky's Will Levis -- could all potentially be gone before the Raiders pick.

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