Derek Carr bids goodbye to the Raiders. Should the Commanders say hello?

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With a single tweet, Derek Carr seemed to confirm his inevitable departure from the Las Vegas Raiders. The quarterback posted a goodbye message to the team’s fan base Thursday — weeks after he was benched with two games left in the regular season.

Carr made clear, however, that he’s not stepping away from the sport.

“That fire burning inside of me to win a championship still rages,” the quarterback wrote. “A fire no man can extinguish; only God. So I look forward to a new city and a new team who, no matter the circumstance, will get everything I have.”

The Raiders will reportedly start exploring trades for Carr — making him the latest veteran quarterback available in a league in which teams are always desperate to find an upgrade under center.

For a quarterback-needy team like the Commanders, Carr could be a desirable option. Though the 31-year-old is coming off a down year — he completed only 60.8% of his passes and was tied for throwing the third-most interceptions with 14 —Carr isn’t that far removed from posting four straight seasons of at least 4,000 passing yards (2018 to 2021). For context, the Commanders haven’t had a 4,000-yard thrower since Kirk Cousins’ final season in 2017.

But whether the Commanders would want to step back into the used quarterback market is a big question, considering how the team’s acquisition of Carson Wentz failed to pan out.  

Last year, of course, the Commanders acquired Wentz from the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a swap of second-round picks and two third-rounders. Wentz proceeded to go 2-5 as a starter and cost Washington a shot at the playoffs late in the year with a three-pick performance in a loss against the Cleveland Browns. 

Simply put, the Commanders paid a hefty price last year for minimal gain.

“We’re not gonna rule out acquiring a vet,” general manager Martin Mayhew said this week. “We’ll go through the entire landscape of who’s available. We’ll evaluate ‘em and we’ll get to a consensus on somebody.”

Mayhew’s comment was an acknowledgment that not every trade will necessarily end up the same. It would be perhaps unwise to ignore Carr’s availability just because Wentz didn’t work out. Carr, too, figures to be one of the top names to be had in what’s poised to be a shallow market for veterans. (Quarterbacks whose contracts are set to expire in March include high-profile names such as Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson and Geno Smith, but Brady isn’t thought to be a candidate for Washington and the latter two will likely be given the franchise tag if no long-term agreement is reached. Options dwindle after that.)

And yet, over the course of Tuesday’s season-ending press conference, Mayhew and coach Ron Rivera repeatedly talked about the need to run the ball in 2023. Mayhew even went as far as to suggest that the Commanders should be calling two runs for every pass dialed up. If that’s the plan, then would it really be worth giving up a significant load of assets for Carr?

Beyond that, the Commanders would have to weigh the pros and cons of making a move for Carr. As a player, Carr has historically been an accurate passer with a strong arm. But in nine seasons, the Raiders only made the playoffs twice with Carr at the helm — partially explaining why the quarterback is available in the first place.

Carr, though, has some say in his next destination as he holds a no-trade clause in his contract. If the Commanders choose Carr, he must also choose them. 

Washington already ran into this obstacle last year when Russell Wilson showed no interest in playing for the Commanders — despite offering three first-round picks to the Seahawks for the signal caller. The Seahawks, a source said, also weren’t interested in trading Wilson to an NFC team.

And that was well before Commanders owner Dan Snyder started to explore a sale of the franchise. 

“He’s going to look for teams that have a stable situation between their head coach and their ownership, right? Stable,” Derek’s brother and former quarterback David Carr said on the NFL Network earlier this month. “He’s also going to be looking for a team that is also looking for a quarterback that has a reputation for game-winning drives and fourth-quarter comebacks.”

If Carr is traded, then an agreement will likely have to be reached by Feb. 15. That’s when $40.4 million of the quarterback’s salary over the next two seasons becomes guaranteed. And though the deal couldn’t be finalized until March because of league rules, the Raiders would reportedly only pick up Carr’s option if they were trading him. 

If no deal is in place, The Athletic reported the Raiders will cut Carr — making the signal caller a free agent.

“Derek’s tenure with the Raiders effectively is finished,” tweeted Tim Younger, Carr’s agent. “Relationships do end, but as is the case here, a reassure of memories and friendships remain. … Now he looks forward to the opportunity to write a new chapter for himself and his career. 

“He’s earned it.”

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