The Raiders are just waiting to move on from Derek Carr, so who (or where?) is their QB of the future?
Entering his third year back as the Raiders head coach, Jon Gruden seems to want more from his quarterback. Derek Carr had a nice season in 2019, setting career-highs in yards (4,054), completion percentage (70.4 percent) and yards per attempt (7.9). But he only had 21 touchdown passes, and he had over 250 passing yards with multiple touchdowns just four times in 16 games.
Carr’s average depth of target (6.6) was the lowest in the league last year, and a league-high 61.4 percent of his attempts were within five yards of the line of scrimmage. A group of wide receivers who left a lot to be desired was a factor in the dink-and-dunk style. But the Raiders attacked that need during the offseason, drafting three wide receivers (Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, Lynn Bowden) and adding Nelson Agohilor in free agency.
Gruden is well-known for his wandering eye when it comes to quarterbacks. Interest in quarterbacks in the last two draft classes is the recent evidence, and rumors of interest in Tom Brady this offseason show that parting ways with Carr is a simple timing issue. When the right guy is found, Carr will be gone and his contract makes moving on incredibly easy in 2021.
Where is the Raiders quarterback of the future?
Carr has notably never had real competition for the starting job, but that has changed this year. The Raiders signed Marcus Mariota to a two-year deal, with $7.5 million guaranteed and lucrative incentives if he plays and plays well this year. Then on Friday, Gruden held nothing back in praise of Mariota and fanned the flames of a quarterback controversy.
“He’s interesting. He took off a couple times today, really fired me up. He’s been hurt. Looked like the ankle has really turned the corner. He’s a dazzling playmaker with his feet, and that’s the key to his game. So I saw that, glimpses of that today. It was exciting. Started off slow in seven-on-seven, but picked it up. Had a nice day. Had a really nice day.”
Carr has consistently shown thin skin when any rumors of the Raiders’ interest in other quarterbacks surfaces. His comments earlier this month show nothing has changed.
Raiders radio broadcaster Lincoln Kennedy appears to be tired of Carr’s cries of disrespect.
Carr is tired of being disrespected, by everyone from writers (raising my hand) up to his head coach and general manager. But the fact is he’s a mediocre quarterback, with an MVP-caliber season in 2016 and a very productive season in 2015 as the shining marks on his resume. Over the last three seasons, he’s 17-30 as the starter with 62 touchdowns, 31 interceptions and a 93.7 passer rating.
Visions of Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson as the Raiders’ quarterback down the road are an easy piggyback on their interest in Brady this offseason. Dak Prescott could be an option if he hits free agency unencumbered by a tag next March, and someone like Jameis Winston could be on the radar. If Mariota gets an extended chance this year and does well, he’ll be in the mix for 2021.
Carr could take the bull by the horns this year, have his best season with a more aggressive style and make himself into the quarterback of the future in Vegas. The Raiders have removed the lack of weapons excuse, as a big step toward moving on from him if he can’t deliver better production this year. Mariota’s presence could be the push Carr needs, and it’s a button Gruden and GM Mike Mayock seemed to push easily as admirers of Mariota during the 2015 pre-draft process.
If things really go off the rails this year, the top of the 2021 draft class could yield a quarterback for the Raiders. The odds of that bottoming out are slim though, as Carr and/or Mariota are the kind of quarterbacks that yield 7-9, 8-8, 9-7-type seasons.
A couple things are absolutely clear regarding the Raiders’ quarterback of the future. They will have a lot of options, with some clarity to come based on how things play out this year, and no stone will go unturned.