Derek Carr will enter 2020 as the Raiders' starting quarterback. But as much support as Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden have given him, you can't help but feel the rope is short.
The Raiders kicked the tires on adding Tom Brady this offseason, but thought better of putting their rebuilding franchise in the hands of a soon-to-be 43-year-old, GOAT status or not. While Brady now calls Tampa Bay home, there might be another legendary quarterback soon to be on the Raiders' radar: Aaron Rodgers.
The end seems to be near for the Green Bay Packers and their legendary quarterback. After the 49ers leapfrogged the Packers in the draft to select wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, the Packers chose to focus on the future and draft quarterback Jordan Love, Rodgers' heir apparent, with the No. 26 overall pick.
Rodgers will be the starter in 2020 for the Packers. But could that be his final season on the frozen tundra? The Packers would save $4.8 million in cap space and $22 million in cash if they traded Rodgers after the 2020 season.
Could the Raiders, with Gruden and a glitzy new Las Vegas stadium, be the ideal next home for the aging Rodgers? It depends on how the Raiders' rebuild progresses in 2020. Rodgers, after all, won't want to finish his career toiling in mediocrity under the Las Vegas sun.
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Mayock and Gruden's first draft class was a home run. They added six long-term pieces and followed that up in 2020 by drafting Henry Ruggs, Damon Arnette, Bryan Edwards, Lynn Bowden, John Simpson, Amik Robertson and Tanner Muse. If the Raiders' 2020 draft class is a success, then their arrow will be pointing straight up as they chase the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs in the AFC West.
If Gruden and Mayock believe the roster is good enough to contend for a playoff spot and make a deep run, the biggest remaining question mark is the quarterback position. Carr's struggles in Kansas City and against the Chiefs have been well-documented. He's had excuses during the past few seasons. The receiving corps was sub-optimal in 2019. The protection hasn't always been there and the defense has been leakier than a roof after a hurricane.
But the line, when healthy, is elite. The Raiders have given him all the weapons he needs to be successful and the defense is trending upward due to an influx of talent in free agency and the draft.
If Carr stumbles in 2020, the Raiders won't hesitate to go to Marcus Mariota if healthy and then could look to make a play for Rodgers come the offseason.
Drafting Edwards and Robertson makes Tyrell Williams and Lamarcus Joyner expendable if the rookies' play matches their talent. If Edwards and Robertson can replace Joyner and Williams, the Raiders could move on from the veterans, clearing about $23 million off the books and opening the door for Rodgers to don Silver and Black.
Rodgers will be 37 in December. While the arm talent still is there, he's no spring chicken and Father Time doesn't normally go 15 rounds as he has with Brady. Last season, Rodgers completed 62 percent of his passes while throwing 26 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He was the least interception-prone quarterback in the NFL and has tossed 51 touchdowns and only six picks in the last two seasons. He's aging, yes. But his best is still better than most and having one of the all-time greats would have to appeal to Gruden as he tries to mold a young roster into champions.
Gruden loves veteran quarterbacks and his West Coast-style offense would be a good fit for an aging Rodgers. Couple that with a strong line, great run game with Josh Jacobs and weapons that include Ruggs, tight end Darren Waller and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow and seeing Rodgers in silver and black isn't difficult to conjure up.
Having Carr has allowed the Raiders to build up the rest of their roster and not worry about focusing on playing quarterback roulette in the draft or in free agency. He's a solid NFL starting quarterback with a relatively low ceiling. He can win games, but is he the type of quarterback you trust to go on the road and win a game in December or January to extend the season?
With the Raider' roster getting more talented by the year, that's the question Gruden and Mayock soon will have to answer. If the answer is no, and Mariota can't recapture the form from his first two seasons, the Raiders will have to go on the hunt for a new quarterback.
If Rodgers' time in Green Bay is coming to an end, and the Raiders are ready to take a leap into contention then Vegas could be the perfect place for Rodgers to end his storied career.