Derek Carr has experienced near constant change since entering the NFL. The Raiders' quarterback burned through four head coaches, as many play callers and three offensive systems in five professional seasons.
That’s, you know, a lot.
Jon Gruden’s decade-long contract stopped the carousel cold. He is, after all, head coach, play caller and architect wrapped into one.
Carr still won’t sail through this offseason on the calm. He’ll have to adjust to a completely overhauled receiver corps. Marcell Ateman’s the top returning receiver, and he had just 15 catches last season.
And, let’s be honest -- last year’s seventh-round pick must scratch and claw for a roster spot.
The Raiders have upgraded in a big way. Antonio Brown came aboard in trade. Tyrell Williams signed shortly after. Ryan Grant only recently became a Raider, and is already a front-runner for the No. 3 spot. J.J. Nelson brought great speed via free agency.
The Raiders even signed another target on Monday, bringing shifty slot man De’Mornay Pierson-El aboard following the AAF’s recent collapse.
All that change sent Jordy Nelson and Seth Roberts packing. Tight end Jared Cook was Carr’s top target even from a different position, and his receiving production will get replaced either by late 2018 signing Darren Waller or an NFL draft pick. ,
That leaves a whole lot of new for Carr to get used to this spring and summer. The Raiders offseason program ramps up April 15, with on-field work beginning in May.
Carr has a head start working with his new receivers, frequently working with Brown across the East Bay. The pair have worked on timing at local parks, high schools and colleges recently, so they hit practice work a smidge ahead of schedule.
“Antonio and I have worked out a lot together,” Carr said last week in a Q+A on his YouTube channel. “You’ve seen some posts here and there, though I really don’t care for people to know what I’m doing all the time, to be honest with you. We have been putting the work in."
Williams has flown in for some sessions, providing welcome, albeit unsanctioned practice time for Carr’s new receivers.
“It has been unbelievable, and really cool to get to know those guys and work with them,” Carr said. “Both of them are so hungry to be better, to be on the same page as me. Because of their football knowledge, we are talking about things so far beyond teammates who have been together just a few (weeks).
Carr put a passing camp together before the 2015 offseason, when Michael Crabtree and young players came out to Bakersfield to get comfortable working with Carr in his hometown.
Extra work with his top guys this spring should ease a relatively tough transition after so much recent turnover.
“In the past I had Amari Cooper and Crabtree,” Carr said. “I had Jordy and Cook and the team’s main targets we were trying to get the ball to, but (Brown and Williams) are right up there with anybody. They are good football players. These dudes are awesome, and they work their tail off. They don’t ever want to stop.
“It has been great to continue to go after our playbook together and talk about what we see and what we think. It’s going to be really fun.”
It’s always easier bringing in new receivers over a new quarterback. Carr is expected to start in 2019, his second season running Gruden’s scheme.
“I anticipate the system being easier for him, and we’ll be able to rely on him more within the system because of his experience,” Gruden said at the NFL owners meeting. “But we’re also going to be better around him. The defense should be better, to get him the ball more.
"We also have Tyrell Williams, Antonio Brown and (offensive tackle) Trent Brown and those we continue to add with enhance his performance more. That’s the plan.”