Raiders Ready to Play $40 Million Game of Chicken With Derek Carr
There is no question Derek Carr is done as the starting quarterback of the Las Vegas Raiders. After starting the season with sky-high expectations and finishing 6-11, the nine-year vet took the fall for coach Josh McDaniels and the Raiders’ failures, and he won’t be back next season. However, as the calendar turns to February, the clock is running out on the Raiders making a Derek Carr trade. The team has until February 15 to make a deal before the Derek Carr contract kicks in with a host of future guarantees. It now looks like the franchise is willing to risk putting that money on their books, though, so they don’t lose Carr for nothing.
The Raiders desperately want a Derek Car trade
When the Raiders benched Derek Carr for Jarrett Stidham in the last few weeks of the 2022 regular season, we all knew it was over between the lifelong Raiders fan and the only NFL franchise he’s ever played for.
However, because of the Derek Carr contract, we thought the saga would almost be over by early February. It now seems like it is just beginning.
Carr’s contract is structured in a way where $40.4 million in future money guarantees on February 15, 2023 (more on that below). Most NFL observers looked at the situation and thought the Raiders would try to trade Carr until that point, and if nothing materialized, they would cut him rather than keep a contract that would take up over 15% of the team’s salary cap next season.
The problem is Carr has all the leverage.
In his last deal, the Raiders included a no-trade clause. This means the QB can turn down any Derek Carr trade he doesn’t like. Additionally, if the team keeps or trades his current contract, he’s guaranteed at least half of the $80-plus million left on the pact. If the team cuts him, he can sign where he wants, likely for even more guaranteed money.
According to Mike Florio at PFT, despite the ticking $40 million clock, the Raiders haven’t let the QB and his representatives seek out a Derek Carr trade. They seem not to trust the QB and worry “those discussions would result in a wink-nod understanding that Carr will tell the Raiders he won’t waive his no-trade clause, forcing a release — and then allowing him to get more than the new team would be willing to pay, if it has to also compensate the Raiders.”
The Raiders are playing a dangerous game with a lot of money that will eat into their cap in 2023 if it doesn’t work out like they hope.
The Derek Carr contract
Last offseason, Derek Carr signed a three-year, $121,500,000 extension with a $7,500,000 signing bonus and $65,277,519 guaranteed, for an average annual value (AAV) of $40,500,000.
The entire $65.2 million was guaranteed for injury — which is part of the reason the team benched the signal-caller at the end of the season — but only $24.9 million guaranteed at signing. The additional $40.4 million locks in on February 15.
Those guarantees coming soon include his entire 2023 salary of $32,900,000 and $7,500,000 of his $41,900,000 salary in 2024.
If the Raiders execute a Derek Carr trade prior to the guarantees kicking in, a $5,625,000 dead cap hit will be all that remains on next season’s ledger. That number will rise dramatically if the franchise keeps him past mid-February.
Las Vegas is currently in a good salary cap position heading into next season. The NFL recently announced the 2023 cap of $224.8 million. That currently positions the Raiders with the ninth-most cap room in the league with $18,439,005 free.