Oakland Raiders: Let’s All Take A Breath, Carr’s Contract Will Get Done

Dec 8, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) reacts during a NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 8, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) reacts during a NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oakland Raiders, according to some, are engaging in a high stakes game of chicken with their franchise quarterback – a report that is far more style than substance.

Oakland Raiders fans seem to be fretting mightily about the status of quarterback Derek Carr‘s contract. More specifically, the lack of a contract at the present moment. But fans would do well to take a deep breath and heed the words of that wise philosopher, Aaron Rodgers, and R-E-L-A-X.

The original report – the one that ignited this firestorm – was filed by NFL.com’s Mike Silver. In his report, Silver claimed to be citing two different sources who said that Carr was “frustrated with the slow pace of discussions and is extremely eager to get the deal done before the start of training camp.”

It’s “news” that set many of the fans on fire, fearing that McKenzie was playing a very dangerous game of chicken with the first legitimate quarterback the Raiders have had since Rich Gannon roamed the field.

It’s an understandable concern though, given what Carr means to the team – a point that was seriously underscored by the team’s performance in the wake of his injury at the end of the 2016 season. A season that saw them return to the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade – but a playoff appearance that without Carr, ended up in a one-and-done thumping at the hands of the Texas.

Having been without a capable field general for as many years as they have, picking Carr up and having him become the cornerstone piece that he has become, has been an amazing thing to see. And it has most definitely helped lead this team out of obscurity and back to prominence once again.

So, when there are headlines like Silver’s, the fear and anxiety that the Raiders are on the verge of alienating their franchise quarterback – and possibly losing him when he becomes a free agent following this season – is understandable.

Oakland Raiders
Dec 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) runs for a first down on a run after getting by San Diego Chargers strong safety Jahleel Addae (37) during the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

But it’s important to note a few things – the first is that we’re in the time of year when actual football-related news is slow and plodding. It happens around this time every year – writers, searching desperately for something to write about, will seize upon any nugget, no matter how small, and blow it up into a King Kong sized piece of controversy.

It’s this time of year that even the most innocuous of statements are routinely taken out of context and blown entirely out of proportion. It’s just the nature of the game.

In this case, because Silver offered no direct quotes or attribution, so it’s impossible to know the exact context those alleged statements were offered in. And as is the case with most everything, context is everything.

And the frustration supposedly expressed by Carr – at least, according to his sources – seems to contradict a conversation GM Reggie McKenzie noted having with his franchise signal-caller. In an interview in late March, McKenzie recounted a conversation he had with Carr.

"“Y’all just come to me whenever. He understands free agency, what we’re trying to do, and it’s never, ‘I need to know now.’ It’s not that. More likely, the serious talks will probably happen after the draft, but the communication, just talking philosophy of the contract, the thought process around it [will continue]. Hopefully when the serious talks start going, then it will be easier.”"

Undoubtedly, Carr would like to have his deal in place before the start of training camp. He’s said as much, simply to not have this bleed over into the season and have it be a distraction. But it’s worth remembering that training camp is still a little more than a month away, meaning there is plenty of time to hammer out the details on what will be a mega-contract.

The other thing that’s worth noting is that McKenzie is not an idiot – his Executive of the Year award should be proof enough of that. He’s been patient and methodical in building this roster from the ground up and he knows exactly where his bread is buttered. He knows this team is only going to go as far as Carr takes them. And he is developing a reputation for taking care of his guys.

But he’s also had a lot on his plate as of late. The NFL Draft. The protracted Marshawn Lynch saga. Rookie mini-camps and tryouts. He’s also said to be working on a much needed extension for Gabe Jackson.

There is also the very important point raised by Albert Breer of the MMQB, and that is the fact that Carr’s deal will be even more complicated than a normal contract, thanks to the expiration of the current CBA in 2020. Assuming Carr’s extension takes him past that date – and you would have to be a fool to not believe that – the team is going to have to account for that as well.

As noted by Breer:

"“The collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2020 season. For a megadeal like this one, that could complicate a player’s willingness to do a traditional contract, because there’s no way to tell what the financial landscape of the NFL will look like in 2021 or 2022 (which would be the fourth and fifth years of a potential Carr extension).Want to draw up a traditional deal? I was able to do that, talking to a few people who know how these negotiations work. So here’s a rough outline: Five-year, $125 million extension; $70 million guaranteed; $40 million signing bonus; $41.15 million in 2017; $59.15 million over two years; $77.15 million over three years; six-year total of $126.15 million. And that all sounds good, on paper. But the concern would be that, come the final two years of the deal, Carr is looking at a contract that’s badly outdated.”"

All of that is to say that when it comes to working a deal for Carr, there are a lot of moving parts to it. It’s not nearly as cut and dry as drawing something up and having him simply sign on the dotted line. There are a lot of complicated factors that will need to be accounted for.

The point of the matter though, is that they will be accounted for. Carr wants to be a Raider for life and McKenzie wants Carr to be a Raider for life. Given that both sides want the same thing, there is little doubt that something will get done.

A point that – given the firestorm surrounding Carr’s alleged frustration – McKenzie took to the media to reinforce.

"“I see Derek every day. We have a great relationship, communicate very well. Now, that’s not going to be an issue at all. … I don’t like discussing contracts through the outside, outside these walls. I kind of keep that as kind of being my mantra and kind of keep that personally in house, but bottom line is we love Derek and we want to keep him and we’re going to do everything to make sure this contract gets done.”"

Would Carr and everybody else have felt better had a deal been struck before now? Absolutely. Does anybody outside of Mike Silver and the folks he’s managed to whip up into a frenzy over it think there is a real issue brewing or that Carr may be on the verge of bolting after this season? Absolutely not.

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Carr is a foundation piece of this team. One of the cornerstones this team is built upon. McKenzie is not going to let Carr simply walk away. Both sides want the same thing and a deal is going to be done. Very likely at some point within the next few weeks or so.

So, until then, listen to the wise and sage advice of Aaron Rodgers – take a deep breath and R-E-L-A-X.