The entire offseason seemed like a cloud of question marks over Raiders quarterback Derek Carr's head.
Did Jon Gruden even want Carr as his quarterback? Would the Raiders draft a QB with their top pick? What did GM Mike Mayock think about him?
In the end, the Raiders held off from grabbing a quarterback in the draft and stuck it out with Carr. Going into the 2019 season, Oakland's signal caller comes in as NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms' No. 18 overall player at the position in a 32-team league.
"The last two years have not been great," Simms said. "And I understand that's not all on Derek Carr. And last year it's hard to give an evaluation on him because the team around him was that crappy."
Carr has thrown for 7,545 yards over the last two years with 41 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. Last season, his first under Gruden, he threw a career-high 4,049 yards, but a career-low 19 touchdowns. The Raiders have also only won 10 games over the last two years.
Before breaking his leg in the penultimate regular-season game in 2016, Carr looked like a possible front-runner for NFL MVP. Since then, Simms hasn't been wowed by the quarterback.
"The last two years, I know the team, the offense has all been a little dysfunctional," Simms said. "But Derek Carr's been dysfunctional along with it."
Simms also believes that Carr has been too conservative. The Raiders' QB has been knocked for his tendency to check down for shorter gains, which is ironic since he's rated as Pro Football Focus' best deep-ball passer. The addition of wide receiver Antonio Brown can quickly change his style, though.
In fact, Simms believes multiple additions through free agency and the draft should help Carr this season.
"He could be a riser in a hurry," Simms said. "He has talent to be in that top 10 conversation. I think the improvements they made on the offensive line, Josh Jacobs at running back ... they lost Jared Cook, but you get Tyrell Williams from the Chargers, you get Antonio Brown, they get Trent Brown at right tackle now.
"I would be shocked if that offense isn't better and his numbers aren't better."
Carr dropped from No. 14 to No. 18 for Simms, but it sure sounds like he sees the QB soaring up his rankings this season.