The Las Vegas Raiders will release Derek Carr, making him the top quarterback available in free agency. Carr is expected to have several suitors when he hits the open market.
The New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, Carolina Panthers and Tennessee Titans are expected to be among the teams interested in signing Carr, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports. Other suitors could emerge, as well.
Where will Carr sign for the 2023 season?
Carr would make sense for any team that is looking for an upgrade at quarterback to make it a playoff contender. The Saints, Jets and Panthers all qualify for that category.
The Titans have been a playoff contender in all four seasons with Ryan Tannehill as their starting quarterback. Tennessee was eliminated from contention in the regular-season finale. Tannehill went 6-6 as the Titans’ starter in the 2022 season and has gone 36-19 in his career with the franchise.
Given that Carr is only a few years younger and arguably slightly better than Tannehill, Tennessee doesn’t seem to be the most likely destination for the former Raiders’ quarterback.
The Jets are a strong fit for Carr. New York has a playoff-caliber defense and young playmakers that can be part of a competent offense. Had Carr started in place of Zach Wilson or Mike White last season, the Jets might’ve earned a wild-card berth.
New York seems to have its sights set higher than Carr. Following weeks of rumors that the Jets would pursue a trade for Aaron Rodgers, ESPN has reported that New York asked the Green Bay Packers if the four-time MVP is available. A trade between the Jets and Packers is starting to seem more likely by the day.
Carr’s free agency might ultimately come down to the NFC South suitors. The division is up for grabs now that Tom Brady has retired and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a hole at quarterback. Carr is much better than Sam Darnold or P.J. Walker in Carolina. The same goes for Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston in New Orleans.
There are a couple of reasons to believe that the Saints are more likely than the Panthers to sign Carr. For starters, New Orleans is so interested in Carr that it explored making a trade for the quarterback. Unlike the Panthers, the Saints don’t have a high draft pick to use on a young quarterback.
Carolina might very well target a veteran quarterback with the hopes of winning right away. The Panthers could also use the No. 9 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to select their quarterback of the future.
Last year, the Saints traded their 2023 first-rounder to the Philadelphia Eagles, which now have their No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft. New Orleans won’t pick until No. 29 overall.
The Saints received the selection from the Denver Broncos for the right to hire coach Sean Payton. New Orleans is unlikely to find a franchise quarterback at the end of the first round.
Carr has already spent time visiting with the Saints. The quarterback didn’t let the Raiders trade him to New Orleans, allowing himself to explore all options.
But in the end, Carr to the Saints makes the most sense.