A four-time Pro Bowl quarterback who'll only be 32 years old by Week 1 of this coming season is currently free for any team, including the Commanders, to sign.
And yet, Washington will probably sit this one out.
Derek Carr's career with the Raiders came to a close on Tuesday, when Las Vegas opted to release the former second-round choice. Carr's 2022 campaign was a disappointing one (especially considering that it was his first alongside ex-college teammate Davante Adams), but he's still an accomplished pro passer, which is something Ron Rivera's club could badly use.
Now, if it were 2022 instead of 2023, perhaps the Commanders would be more enticed by Carr. However, based on the miserable stretch the squad recently went through with Carson Wentz combined with Carr's likely price, not to mention the presence of Sam Howell and the murky ownership situation, the fit simply doesn't feel right for the two sides.
Unlike Wentz, picking up Carr won't require trading any draft picks. That's a positive. What isn't, meanwhile, is the fact that Carr will almost assuredly cost substantially more money-wise than Wentz did (Wentz's deal paid him $28 million in 2022; Carr, on the other hand, could fetch at least $35 million).
Having to offer up even more cash for a veteran, even if that vet is more solid than the previous one, can't be all that appealing to Rivera.
Besides, as Washington (and Denver and Indianapolis, too) learned last season, landing a player who succeeded in their past doesn't mean he'll do so in his new uniform.
The failure of the Wentz swap lingers, to be frank.
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The Commanders could afford Carr, seeing as they're going to move on from Wentz, may lose Daron Payne and have other transactions they can make in order to maximize their cap room. Them actually reaching the level of compensation that he'll seek is a whole other notion.
Then there's Sam Howell, who on one hand shouldn't preclude the organization from pursuing any and every person capable of completing a throw on Sunday but on the other hand is in the franchise's plans to some extent.
Howell has a mere 19 NFL attempts to his name (Carr's approaching 5,000, for comparison's sake), but if (if, if, if) he develops into even an average starter, that would provide the Commanders with a lot of flexibility in terms of roster building. After all, he won't even clear a million bucks in 2023.
Yes, Rivera ought to be desperate to win as soon as possible, since he hasn't finished above .500 in his three years in charge of Washington. Carr, not Howell, figures to be a better option for helping the coach do just that from a pure experience perspective. Howell, however, does possess upside (it might be small, but it's there) and is way cheaper than Carr.
Laying out such football-focused points may prove to be a foolish exercise, because ultimately, the uncertainty regarding who's going to actually own this operation has the potential to trump all.
If Carr prefers to sign quickly — he already visited with the Saints when he was still a member of the Raiders — then the up-in-the-air nature of the Commanders' sale will render everything else irrelevant. If Dan and Tanya Snyder are planning to sell soon, they'll have no motivation to invest in Carr, and unless they sell shockingly soon, he'll be off the market before the fresh regime arrives.
After wrapping up an 8-8-1 effort, Rivera told reporters that he'd be exploring every avenue for a reliable top quarterback. In theory, Carr represents one such avenue.
In practice, though, nabbing Carr would require a double-down on the approach that brought Wentz aboard, a temporary shutdown of whatever Howell can become and, most critically, clarity with the ownership storyline. That's a lot to cross off for Derek Carr.