Derek Carr wins!
On Wednesday, the Las Vegas (it’s official now) Raiders quarterback became the first quarterback to get publicly tender about Tom Brady.
Brady’s much-discussed confab with Raiders owner Mark Davis at the McGregor-Cerrone fight last weekend and subsequent spitballing about Brady as a Raider had Carr sounding huffing with indignation.
"I mean, there was a lot of quarterbacks at that fight," Carr said to ESPN. "And there was a lot of football players at that fight that are free agents. And it's like, every time, with my job, it's always a story. No matter what. And knowing some people that were around, I even know what the conversation was [between Davis and Brady], and it's like, 'C'mon, man, when's it going to end?'"
Brady’s first foray into free agency creeps closer. There are no concrete indications yet from the Patriots that they will keep him off the market. Brady’s signaled he’s down for whatever.
Almost every team can and will be considered a landing spot for the 43-year-old legend. And that means more quarterbacks will — like Carr — kick against the prick of insecurity that comes with hearing Brady mentioned as an option.
Some may want a verbal commitment ring. Some teams might offer up a vow of fidelity all on their own to protect the fragile, eggshell mind of their still-developing quarterback.
That’s what Buffalo GM Brandon Beane did last month when Tim Graham of The Athletic asked about Brady as a Bill. Beane gingerly praised, sidestepped, avoided all appearance of tampering then added, “I don’t think he wants to be a backup.”
That was no off-handed knock at Brady. It was Beane protecting his third-year quarterback Josh Allen from feeling threatened.
It’s going to be fascinating to find out what Brady’s market really looks like. For example, there’s no debate he’d be better than Allen in 2020. Anyone who witnessed Allen’s scatterbrained effort to “win” that playoff game in Houston would realize that.
But what about 2021 or 2022 when Brady is 44 and 45? What about the investment made so far by the Bills and their coaching staff, not to mention the draft pick spent? Does it do a team like Buffalo — based in decidedly non-cosmopolitan Western New York — any good to make an overture to Brady if it has no shot at landing him given it could leave Allen shaken?
Dynamics similar to Buffalo exist with the Giants, Jets, Ravens, Browns, Cardinals, Bears, Eagles, Redskins, and Rams. All those teams have a first-round quarterback who's never won a playoff game.
Is it wise for the Redskins and Giants to tiptoe around the feelings of Dwayne Haskins and Daniel Jones or pursue a couple of years of Brady and all that comes with him in terms of marketing, ticket sales and overwhelming coverage?
Leave Brady and his preferences out of it for a moment. If you own a team, don’t you want your GM active and conversant on every player in the league, especially one as iconic and talented as Brady?
I mean, if Brady signs with the Bengals and Jacksonville GM Dave Caldwell never even made a call to Brady’s agent Don Yee, Caldwell should start packing his bags.
An explanation from Caldwell that he didn’t want to undercut Gardner Minshew wouldn’t really fly.
Brady’s looming availability is a case study for prospective owners, coaches and GMs in determining "what’s best for the football team." Football-wise. Business-wise. Relative to the salary cap. Relative to sales and marketing. For the locker room. For the community.
And especially for the guy who’s in place at the position that Brady’s played better than anyone who’s ever lived.
“(You’d think) everyone would be like, 'Yes, we're going the right way. Everything's getting better ... '" lamented Carr. “You would think that that would be the story. But that's not how it works. And I understand that now," Carr said.
"Especially when people are seen with certain people. It's like, 'Oh, gosh. Well, I was at dinner with [Davis] last night. Does that count for anything?' Golly. It's just funny. But I'm used to it now. But I'll say it this way: I look forward to taking the first snap in that stadium, and I look forward to taking every snap from here on out — until I'm done."
So mark Derek Carr down as the first one to lift his leg and pee on his territory relative to Tom Brady. Who’s next? Teams can't make direct contact with Brady until March 16.
How many will feel compelled to say they don't want the GOAT?