The move to Las Vegas hasn’t happened yet, but the Oakland Raiders are already dead, sacrificed for the Las Vegas Raiders.
Thursday night’s beatdown at the hands of the lowly 49ers certified that these Raiders — the ones holding three additional first-round picks over the next two years — aren’t winning anything more than a game or two (maybe three or four) during their remaining years in Oakland. So now, with the Raiders’ present all but destroyed, it’s time to take a look at their future, which awaits them in Las Vegas. Jon Gruden will certainly be the team’s coach after the relocation given the nature of his contract ($100 million), but Derek Carr’s future is far less certain — despite what Carr said after Thursday night’s loss, which dropped the Raiders to 1-7 with a minus-111 point differential.
After the game, Carr, who was replaced by backup AJ McCarron during the game, talked like a quarterback who expects to be leading the rebuild that’s coming.
“Who really wants to turn this thing around? Who really wants to do the hard things that no one wants to do? It’s easy to say, ‘I’d rather do it somewhere else.’ That’s easy,” Carr said, per NFL.com. “I think we figure that out, and going forward we find out who’s a Raider, honestly. I love this place, and I’m not going anywhere. So I’m in for the long haul, and I want to see the men step up and say, ‘I want to do that too.'”
Except that, that’s not up to Carr. Even though Gruden hasn’t come out and said he’s moving on from Carr — and let’s face it, he won’t ever say it until it actually happens — there’s a good chance the Raiders won’t be taking Carr with them to Las Vegas. Carr, who signed a $125 million extension before the 2017 season, is reaching the point in his contract that makes him very cuttable.
In 2019, Carr carries a cap hit of $22.5 million. If the Raiders cut him, they’ll be forced to absorb $7.5 million against the cap, which means they’d save $15 million by cutting him. In 2020, Carr’s dead cap shrinks to $5 million. The Raiders can cut him after the 2019 season and save $16.5 million. (All numbers via Spotrac)
Considering the Raiders own three first-round picks that used to belong to the Bears and the Cowboys, and look like they’re on track to wind up with one of the top picks in next year’s draft, it seems more than likely that they’ll use one of their high picks on a quarterback. Even if they decide to hang onto Carr heading into the 2019 season — maybe they’ll want their rookie quarterback to sit and learn for a year — by the time they land in Vegas, Carr probably won’t be with them. Joel Corry, a former sports agent, recently included Carr on his list of quarterbacks who might be on another team by next season — whether that’s via trade or a release.
It’s tough to imagine a team giving up something of value for Carr, who is starting to look less and less like a starting-caliber quarterback. Carr was once an MVP candidate back in 2016, but the warning signs have been there all along. Sure enough, as soon as the team around him crumbled, Carr has crumbled alongside the rest of them, putting his future with the franchise in jeopardy.
It’s not Carr. It’s safe to say that the Las Vegas Raiders will look wildly different than the Oakland Raiders — with the lone exception of Gruden, of course.
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