Derek Carr knew Marcus Mariota was on the Raiders’ radar this offseason. The Silver and Black needed a quality backup capable of stepping in should Carr miss time, something the team’s starting quarterback obviously understands.
There was never any doubt who the alpha was when Mike Glennon or A.J. McCarron were here. Those guys largely are career backups. Mariota, however, is not. He was the starter for four and a half years with the Tennessee Titans before losing the title to Ryan Tannehill.
Carr’s latest backup offers greater competition than most, even though the hierarchy remains as secure as ever. Carr, a seven-year veteran, is unfazed by that, even with unique incentives in Mariota’s contract that would pay him handsomely should he assume the starting spot.
“I gotta be honest with you, it doesn’t even bother me one bit,” Carr said in an interview with The Athletic’s Vic Tafur, in a Q&A posted Friday morning. “And that is being completely true to myself. No one outside of who I am is going to push me harder than me. Like, I always encourage guys to go ahead and wake up when I wake up, study how much I study, work hard like I work hard. I’m not the least bit looking to my left or to my right when I’m doing a rep, I’m focused on me.
“It’s just that when you’re the same face and you’re one of the last same faces that’s been around for seven years, people just look for things to point out.”
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Carr’s mistakes are pointed out more often than his statistical superlatives achieved working with head coach Jon Gruden, mostly because the team has struggled to win consistently over the past three seasons.
The backup quarterback is always a fan favorite, someone who remains attractive with clean jersey while the starter’s gets dirty over the successes and failures of an NFL season. That surely will be the case with Mariota, though the Oregon product is known as an excellent teammate who has made it clear he’s here to support Carr as the starter.
“I knew ahead of time that Marcus was on the radar, but I didn’t know if Marcus would choose to come here,” Carr said. “But I’m glad that he did. I will say this, I’ve been around a lot of good dudes, but he’s one of the best people that I’ve ever been around. I’ve had a lot of great quarterbacks come into our room and a lot of guys that were excited — E.J. Manuel comes to mind — but Marcus was the first one out of all those guys that right when he signed, he texted me and said, “Derek, I am here to fully support you and help in any way that I can, and grow myself as a player and get healthy.
“And not one time has that ever happened. He’s just here to help … and obviously, he is here to compete — we all know that. This is football. That’s everybody’s job.”
Carr understands that it’s general manager Mike Mayock’s job, along with Gruden, to evaluate all quarterback options in the draft and free agency. He told The Athletic that he never doubted he would return as Raiders starting quarterback, even as the team was casually flirting with Tom Brady.
“Yeah, let’s be honest, the dude has won six Super Bowls,” Carr said. “You have to be crazy to not watch his film and talk about it when he is a free agent. Right? You’re going to watch film of Tom Brady. Like, where’s he at?
“…Everybody wants to make it into a bad thing. Either way, whatever happened, Raiders fans were going to be in good hands. We’re going to be good. We’re going to be efficient either way, Raiders fans. At the end of the day, you know, you can have 32 GMs watch the film and 16 may say this and 16 may say that. Obviously, our GM and coach made their decision. I know we live in a world of hot takes, and we gotta make some controversy, but the guy won six Super Bowls and every team in the league popped in his film when he became a free agent. I will just say that I’m glad to be our quarterback and I was very, very confident that I would be the whole time.”