The up-and-down year for the Raiders will force the team to make a quick decision for 2023.
Is quarterback Derek Carr in or out?
Saturday night’s three-interception performance has once again renewed questions as to whether he should remain with the team. And, as explained at the time his latest contract was completed, the Raiders have a way to get out from under the bulk of the deal.
But if they’re going to do it, they’ll need to act quickly.
Hyped by the quid-pro-quo crowd as a firm, $40.5 million deal, the truth was and is that Carr received $24.9 million in 2022, with no full guarantees beyond the current season.
Carr has a $32.9 million salary for 2023, which was guaranteed for injury at the time of signing. It, along with $7.5 million in 2024 salary currently guaranteed for injury, becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2023 waiver period.
The waiver period begins after the Super Bowl. If the Raiders are going to cut Carr — and escape that $40.4 million liability — they’ll have a narrow window in which to act.
There are two important caveats. First, Carr can’t be traded before the guarantee vests. An informal trade could be worked out (like the Alex Smith deal in early 2018), but the guarantees would vest and, if the deal fell through, the Raiders would be stuck.
Second, Carr has to be able to pass a physical before the third day of the waiver period. That could tempt the Raiders to put him in bubble wrap if/when they are eliminated. (If the Dolphins win today and the Chargers win tomorrow, it’s over for the Raiders.)
If that happens — if it’s announced that Carr won’t be playing for the rest of the season — it will be a clear signal as to what’s coming. Which would be Carr likely going, after nine years with the Raiders.