Derek Carr will be the Raiders quarterback in Las Vegas…probably

Derek Carr, Raiders (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Derek Carr, Raiders (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

Derek Carr will, in all likelihood, be the starting quarterback of the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020. But nothing is ever a guarantee in the NFL.

Rumors have been circulating for months — scratch that, over a year — regarding Derek Carr‘s status with the now Las Vegas Raiders. And there is no player the fanbase remains more split on than Carr.

Some view Carr as the victim of a poor situation who may not be an elite signal-caller, but someone who could certainly lead the Raiders to the promised land. Others see him as a below-average quarterback who the franchise should dump in favor of someone new.

In reality, it doesn’t matter what the fans think. It matters what Mike Mayock, Jon Gruden, and the rest of the Raiders organization think.

The only problem with that is, no one truly knows what the Raiders’ brass is thinking. Not the national media, not sports bloggers, and certainly not the fans.

Everyone is in the dark — and that’s likely how Mayock and Gruden like it.

While we can’t predict the future with 100 percent accuracy, we can look at the logistics of the situation and use that to determine what might be the team’s best course of action.

Carr will be in the third year of a massive five-year, $125 million contract extension that he signed back in 2017. His cap hit in 2020 is set to be a hefty sum of $21.5 million, but what’s interesting is that this is the first year that his dead cap will be less than his true cap hit.

That means that — if they wanted to — the Raiders could feasibly move on from Carr. Still, with a dead cap hit of nearly $8 million, simply releasing him seems like a bad financial and football decision.

It’s safe to say we could rule that out of the equation.

Derek Carr will be on the roster next season. Unless, of course, he’s traded.

If the Raiders decide that they’d rather roll with a new starting quarterback in 2020, they could opt to trade Carr to free up some additional cap space and/or to acquire draft capital that could possibly be used to select his replacement.

The only issue with that is the Raiders don’t exactly hold a premium pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Las Vegas is set to pick at No. 12 overall but they also have an extra first at pick No. 19 and three third-rounders to play with. Nonetheless, a trade up to snag either Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa seems unreasonable.

And the team would likely have to trade up into the top-5 if they wanted to snag a player like Justin Herbert who the division-rival Los Angeles Chargers have reportedly set their eyes on.

Unless the Raiders are going to roll with an inexperienced rookie in need of development, it’s unlikely they turn to the draft to find his replacement. At least in the short-term.

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The Raiders are intent on competing in 2020 after falling just short of the playoffs last season. And Mayock and Gruden know that if that’s the case, they’re much better off doing so with Carr or another proven veteran.

But that’s the thing. Could the Raiders instead target a veteran signal-caller to replace Carr?

Las Vegas has been linked to everyone from Marcus Mariota to Tom Brady, but both options seem very unlikely for multiple reasons.

For starters, the overwhelming odds are that Brady will remain in New England for at least the near future. And second, it’s not as if Mariota is some impressive upgrade over Carr — he likely isn’t an upgrade at all.

The only way signing Mariota would make any sense is if they were to find a taker for Carr AND they were to draft his future replacement early in the draft. Mariota would undoubtedly be cheaper, but he likely isn’t the future at the position.

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The Raiders want to contend for the playoffs in 2020 and they’re unlikely to find a better option out there than Derek Carr at least in the short-term.

What does all of this mean? It means that the smart bet seems to be on Carr sticking with the Raiders at least for another season.

Does that mean it will happen? Absolutely not. The NFL is an unpredictable place and Jon Gruden has proven to be an unpredictable coach. Who’s to say he doesn’t fall in love with a quarterback in the draft and convince Mayock to trade the house to get him?

Crazier things have happened.

This is a storyline that will continue to manifest itself until the offseason is in its final days  — and even then we surely won’t have heard the end of it.

Next. Raiders: Mid-February complete 7-round mock draft. dark

But Derek Carr should be the Las Vegas Raiders quarterback in 2020.

Key word — should.