The Raiders have 16 days to figure out a potential trade for quarterback Derek Carr before $40.4 million in future compensation becomes fully guaranteed. So why haven’t they given Carr permission to try to find a suitor?
Here’s the problem. The Raiders likely fear that those discussions would result in a wink-nod understanding that Carr will tell the Raiders he won’t waive his no-trade clause, forcing a release — and then allowing him to get more than the new team would be willing to pay, if it has to also compensate the Raiders.
From Carr’s perspective, it’s better to be cut than traded. He picks his destination, he maximizes his compensation, and his new team can pay him more because it didn’t have to send a draft pick or two to his old team.
The Raiders are smart enough to realize this. Thus, the goal for now seems to be keeping Carr from finding out what’s behind Door No. 2. The more he knows about what other teams will or won’t do, the more likely he realizes that his best play would be to fold his arms and refuse to cooperate.
Then there’s this possibility. The Raiders, in lieu of cutting him, will keep him. And keep him. And keep him, until they get the deal they want.
It would be similar to what the Browns did with Baker Mayfield. Yes, he had a $19.9 million salary for 2022. But he had nowhere to play. And the longer it played out, the harder it would be for him to get ready for the regular season.
Eventually, he gave up $4.6 million, and the Browns saved $9.4 million.
The Raiders actually could benefit from sitting on Carr until after the upcoming game of veteran quarterback musical chairs ends. Assuming that at least one quarterback-needy team doesn’t get the guy it wants, the Raiders will operate from a position of strength.
If, in contract, they hustle to strike a deal for Carr before February 15, they’ll be operating from a position of weakness.
If that’s what the Raiders are doing, it’s quite a gamble. A $40.4 million gamble, more than twice the $19.9 million the Browns gambled with.
Carr could just say, “Fine. I’ll show up for practice and games and collect your checks and not play.” They can’t lock him out, if he wants to be there.
But the Raiders could be banking on Carr desperately not wanting to be there, and also desperately wanting to be elsewhere. That’s the way to get him to trim enough of that $40.4 million to facilitate a trade — even if the Raiders end up paying some of it.
It’s far better than paying all of it.