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Even if defensive purists don’t like it, modern football starts and ends with your quarterback. For the Las Vegas Raiders, it seems like that man is Derek Carr; despite the arrival of Marcus Mariota and an offseason full of trade rumors, the veteran signal-caller isn’t going anywhere. Even the coronavirus pandemic can’t shake his focus on the upcoming season.

While all NFL players have the ability to opt-out of the 2020 campaign due to safety concerns, Carr won’t be taking that option. Due to 1 specific personal reason, the quarterback refused to consider spending the upcoming season at home.

Derek Carr’s football career to date

As anyone with siblings can confirm, it’s never easy to follow in the footsteps of a successful older brother. Derek Carr, however, has stepped out of David’s shadow and built a successful NFL career.

After a strong high school career, Derek enrolled at Fresno State and joined the Bulldogs. He barely played as a true freshman, though, and redshirted the following season. During his third year on campus, however, he finally claimed the starting job; by the time he graduated, the quarterback had thrown for 12,843 yards and 113 touchdowns, with 50 of those coming in his senior season.

That success apparently impressed the Oakland Raiders, as they selected Carr in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft. He beat out Matt Schaub in training camp and claimed the starting job, which he’s held ever since. On the whole, however, his time with the organization has been a bit uneven.

Although Carr looked like an MVP candidate in 2016, he hasn’t been able to get the Raiders over the hump. While it’s not fair to pin all of the struggles solely on the quarterback, he hasn’t been part of the solution, either. Throwing for 22,793 yards, 143 touchdowns, and 62 interceptions over six NFL seasons isn’t abysmal, but it’s not to make anyone stand up and take notice.

Spending the offseason in limbo

During the 2020 NFL offseason, plenty of big-name quarterbacks were on the move. While that called Derek Carr’s future with the Raiders into question, he survived relatively unscathed.

While Jon Gruden tried to say all the right things about Carr, that didn’t stop the speculation. The Raiders’ head coach has been a long-time admirer of Tom Brady and is never afraid to make a bold decision; that reality, combined with the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas, seemed to suggest the club was poised to make an offseason splash.

Although Brady eventually signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carr will have some increased competition this fall. The Raiders did acquire Marcus Mariota; while he probably won’t win the starting job outright, he will keep the incumbent quarterback on his toes.

Derek Carr won’t opt out because he wants to prove himself to his haters

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, NFL players have the option to opt-out of the 2020 season. Derek Carr, however, made it clear that he won’t be going anywhere this year.

“Did I think about opting out? I did not,” Carr explained during his recent media availability, according to Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune. “I have a lot to prove to myself. I’m going to be completely honest with you. I’m tired of being disrespected. There was no question I was going to play this year.”

While criticism is part of playing quarterback in the NFL, Carr does have something to prove this season. As mentioned above, he showed flashes of brilliance in the past, but hasn’t been able to lift the Raiders out of mediocrity; he’s also spent an offseason listening to rumors about his departure and saw his team bring in a new quarterback. As of now, he still holds the starting job. It’s up to him to prove that he’s the right man to keep it.

Football fans everywhere will be hoping that the NFL can keep it together and safely play games during 2020. If the season kicks off as planned, no one will be more ready than Derek Carr.

Stats courtesy of Sports-Reference and Pro-Football-Reference