Henderson, Nev. — The Las Vegas Raiders have benched Derek Carr, the team’s starting quarterback since their second-round pick in the 2014 draft, and Jarrett Stidham has started for the final two games and Chase Garbers has started, they announced Wednesday. Backup.
“None of us are happy with where we are, but we think it’s an opportunity to evaluate a young player who hasn’t gotten much playing time,” first-year coach Josh McDaniel said. “Derek was great. He understood the situation we were in and was very supportive of the two lads.
He does everything he can to help them.
The move will no doubt raise questions, and we have the answers…
Why are the Raiders benching Carr now?
They call it an insurance policy because when the Raiders’ new regime signed Carr to a three-year, $121.5 million extension last spring, which included a no-trade clause, Las Vegas gave itself a three-day window. A relatively low salary cap hit of more than $5 million to cut the Super Bowl Carr. And if Carr is injured in these final two games, his $32.9 million salary for next season and $7.5 million in 2024 will be guaranteed. So putting Carr in bubble wrap the last two games at least makes that guarantee-for-injury reason.
Does this mean Carr is done in Vegas?
For all intents and purposes, yes. Although McDaniel said the decision is not “final”. Carr said he would “probably” retire in June 2021 rather than play for a team other than the Raiders, who look set to drop his trade value.
“If I had to play for somebody else, I probably would have quit football,” Carr said at the time. “I’ve been a Raider all my life…I’d rather go down with the ship, you know what I’m saying, if I have to.”
How will Carr’s time as a Raider be remembered?
The most polarizing in Raiders franchise history. Seriously. The fans either love him to the point of defending any sling or arrow thrown at him, or they hate him, blaming him for everything that went wrong during his nine seasons under center. And a lot has gone wrong.
See, Carr — who played in his past ideal — holds nearly every passing record in franchise history and is a top-five QB in franchise history behind Ken Staller, Daryl Lamonica, Jim Plunkett and Rich Gannon. Critics say he hasn’t been the same in 2022, posting a 56.2 QBR while throwing for 3,522 passing yards with 24 touchdowns and 14 interceptions since suffering a season-ending broken right ankle in 2016.
Who is Jarrett Stidham?
The Raiders’ new starting QB was acquired in last season’s trade with the New England Patriots after being taken in the fourth round of the 2019 draft out of Auburn after starting his college career at Baylor. So Stidham has experience backing up Tom Brady and Mack Jones as well as Carr, but perhaps most importantly, McDaniel’s system is the only system he’s played in professionally.
Stidham has played in 11 NFL games, passing for a combined 342 yards with two touchdown passes and four interceptions and completing 52.5% of his passes, but Sunday will be his first project start.
Are the Raiders likely to acquire their 2023 starter in free agency, trade or the draft (and Stidham has a shot)?
One working theory is that Brady, who is intimately familiar with McDaniels’ system, played for the better part of two decades in New England before coming to Las Vegas as a stopover. Then the Raiders with the top 10 pick, even if they lose, draft the QB of the future. And if Stidham is playing well, it’s a good problem to have in this situation, right?
Trading Carr, as long as he doesn’t waive the no-trade clause, also gives the Raiders more picks and more mobility to move in the draft.
What other changes might be coming soon?
If you weren’t paying attention, owner Mark Davis commented to ESPN that “Rome wasn’t built in a day” the day after the Raiders’ embarrassing Colts downed Las Vegas 2-7 and an emotional Carr broke down in tears, the podium said it all. Davis invested in the coach more than the quarterback.
Throw in the idea that Davis once wanted to move on from Carr and sign Brady, and the move was fired by then-coach Jon Gruden, and now here we are today. Personnel-wise, McDaniel and general manager Dave Ziegler will have to make calls on running back Josh Jacobs as well as linebacker Denzel Perryman, both of whom are in contract years. Also keep an eye on defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.