The Las Vegas Raiders would be smart to part ways with starting quarterback Derek Carr in the offseason and replace him with free-agent Teddy Bridgewater.
The 2020 NFL Scouting Combine offered former collegiate stars the opportunity to put their incredible skills on display for potential employers. It also provided an opportunity for high-ranking team officials to meet together in one place.
The Las Vegas Raiders’ tandem of head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock were hard at work scouting players to target with their slew of draft picks. However, one notable veteran player was frequently a topic of conversation — quarterback Derek Carr.
There has been rampant speculation about whether Carr, who has been the Raiders’ starting signal-caller since 2014, will remain a part of the team’s future during their first season in Las Vegas.
Mayock was somehow able to provide interesting insight into the situation, without offing any real clarity. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Mayock had the following to say about his incumbent starting quarterback.
"“I’m very happy with Derek. But as I’ve said before, we will evaluate every position on our roster and if there’s a chance to upgrade, we will look into that.”"
If the team is serious about moving in another direction, they could not pick a better time to do so. The free-agent class this offseason is one of the most loaded in NFL history.
Talented players such as Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Philip Rivers, Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill, and Marcus Mariota are all available to the highest bidder. Las Vegas, who have the benefit of the 12th most cap space at $50,340,596 per Over the Cap, could realistically target any of these options.
At least the ones that actually hit the open market, that is.
There are also several notable QB options available in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Raiders, who have multiple first-round picks, are in a position to make a play at some of the top rookies.
The Best Choice
All that being said, there is one option that seems to be flying under many teams’ radars (including the Raiders) — Teddy Bridgewater. I believe Bridgewater to be the Raiders’ best option and a player they should make their top priority this offseason.
While superstars like Brady and Rivers still appear to have something left in the tank, both would be short-term options. If the Raiders do elect to part ways with Carr, it would make sense for them to commit to a player that the new fanbase in Las Vegas could rally behind.
Both Winston and Mariota fit that bill. However, both have questionable track records and serious issues with turnovers.
This leaves Prescott as the best combination of youth and talent.
However, the 26-year-old will assuredly be looking for a major payday after playing under his rookie contract for his full career. Spotrac places Prescott’s market value at a whopping $33 in annual salary. This would place him in the top-five highest-paid player at his position.
Not to mention the fact that the Cowboys are almost assuredly going to place the franchise tag on him if a long-term extension can’t be reached.
Bridgewater, on the other hand, is still just 27 years old. He is also projected to command a contract in the $20 million annual salary range.
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This would give Gruden and company a piece young enough to build around, while also saving valuable cap space to fill out the rest of the roster.
Teddy Bridgewater seemed like he was destined for stardom after his first two seasons. He won the Pepsi Rookie of the Year award in 2014 and was selected to the Pro Bowl in his sophomore NFL season in 2015.
He averaged 3,075 yards and 14 touchdowns per season during that two-year span and also led his Minnesota Vikings to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth in 2015.
However, an infamously devastating knee injury in 2016 not only cost Bridgewater the entire season, but even threatened his career.
After nearly two full years of rehab and recovery, the former Louisville Cardinals quarterback found a home as the backup to future Hall of Famer Drew Brees with the New Orleans Saints.
An injury to Brees gave Bridgewater a chance to show his ability last season. And did he ever!
The quarterback took over the offense and threw for 1,384 yards, nine touchdowns (and only two interceptions), with a 67.9 percent completion percentage. Even more importantly, he kept the Saints afloat in the playoff race, going a perfect 5-0 in his games as a starter.
Brees has officially made the decision to return to New Orleans in 2020, leaving Bridgewater as a likely candidate to seek a full-time starting job.
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A union between Teddy Bridgewater and the Raiders may seem odd at first. After all, both Bridgewater and Carr seem to profile as similar players. They are both in their late 20’s and both have a reputation as accurate short passers.
Why should Las Vegas part with their franchise player in order to bring in a player with the same kind of skill set?
I believe that Teddy Bridgewater would be a noticeable upgrade over Derek Carr for a number of reasons. Chief among these is his track record as a winner.
Despite limited opportunities, Bridgewater has been a key factor in leading his team to the postseason on two occasions. Carr has one such season in his six seasons.
Bridgewater has a 22-12 record as a starter. Carr is 39-55. While winning is certainly affected by much more than one position, Carr’s biggest weakness is his lack of overall team success. Bridgewater would be a needed change and opportunity for a fresh start.
There is also a path for the Raiders to completely overhaul their passing game by adding a pair of star receivers in the draft.
At the end of the day, the former Vikings and Saints QB is a first-round caliber player who is only available at a reduced price because of an injury that occurred four years ago. He also has a body of work that proves he has recovered and is capable of leading a team.
Imagine having Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, legitimate weapons on the outside, and a roster strengthened through the remainder of the team’s cap space.
Sign me up today!