Derek Carr’s exceptional season has made him a sought-after product for teams in need of a quarterback and could open the door for the Raiders to pursue Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
The Raiders obviously don’t tip the scales on offseason moves. But several NFL insiders expect the Raiders to respond to calls from teams asking about Carr’s availability.
In all respects, Carr has behaved like an NFL top 10 quarterback operating a top 10 offense last year. With that position and that side of the ball set, the Raiders can comfortably maintain the status quo and devote the majority of their financial and recruiting capital to improving their defense.
The odds encourage them to do just that.
But there is a setback to the season that Carr just produced. Increased demand for his services could create a scenario in which a three-team trade could see the Raiders acquire Watson, insiders say.
For that to happen, the Raiders would need to receive two first-round picks for Carr from a team other than the Texans, which they would then pack with their own first rounds in 2021 and 2022 to present a compelling first-four offer. round picks at the Texans for Watson, who would have asked to be traded.
“The only way to trade a quarterback of Carr’s caliber is to have a replacement plan in place that ensures improvement,” said an industry insider.
Watson, who represents an upgrade from Carr, would put the Raiders in place as a quarterback for the next decade.
To add Watson, the Raiders will need a number of factors to put themselves in place, although industry insiders believe a path could be drawn.
It starts with the pursuit of Carr by multiple teams.
Among the clubs that could get involved are the Colts, Bears, Patriots and Washington Football Team. Depending on what’s going on in New Orleans, the Saints could also be potential suitors.
“Carr would definitely be a great choice for a number of different teams,” said one NFL executive.
It makes sense that every potential Carr suitor asks about Watson first. But given the steep price the Rams paid to acquire Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford – 26-year-old quarterback Jared Goff, a quarterback with multiple playoff wins and a recent Super Bowl appearance, two picks. round one and a round three pick – the cost for Watson’s numbers is too high for most.
Carr, who is 29, is a proven NFL QB at a less prohibitive cost. Hence the expectation that several teams will pitch him.
The Raiders, as part of their due diligence, plan to at least listen. As several industry insiders have indicated, the market could be ripe for the Raiders to receive a compelling offer from multiple teams expressing interest.
“It could happen to two first-round picks,” an NFL insider said of the Raiders’ comeback for Carr. “He’s not Stafford, but he’s younger and he has a fair contract, so I could see two number one.”
While that sounds good in theory, it also leaves the Raiders in the position of having to replace Carr if they were to agree to move him. Marcus Mariota is still on the roster, but it’s presumptuous to assume he could come close, let alone duplicate, Carr’s production or the order he has from Jon Gruden’s offense.
Armed with additional draft picks, the Raiders could advance to next April’s draft to select one of the promising quarterback prospects. But that begs the question, why would Gruden take his chance on an unproven youngster after spending so much time developing Carr?
Which brings us back to Watson, 25, who meets the requirement to provide an upgrade to Carr.
Chances are the Raiders happily cling to Carr and get to work building a playoff-grade defense.
But the chance to go from very good to excellent doesn’t come very often. And if things turn out well, the Raiders might be able to do it.