Derek Carr is headed to the Saints, as ESPN first reported, agreeing to a four-year contract with New Orleans on Monday. The longtime Raiders quarterback met with the Jets and Panthers, two other suitors, following his release from Las Vegas this offseason. But he's going from black and silver to black and gold in 2023, hinting at newfound loyalty to the Saints after reports surfaced of his decision.
Who should feel good about this move? And who is negatively affected by it? Here are our instant winners and losers:
Winner: Derek Carr
No one should be celebrating this more than Carr himself. The Saints aren't as well-rounded as the Jets or even the Panthers, but they offer a lot: the cozy confines of a dome, a wide-open division, decent skill-position weapons in Alvin Kamara and Chris Olave, and perhaps best of all, no true threat of competition at QB. In a market full of teams desperate for signal-callers, Carr joined a Saints team that lacks both an existing long-term option and the necessary draft capital to add a top prospect this year. Sure, he may be going from one middling wild-card contender to another, but he managed to find quite a bit of job security.
Loser: A potential (logical?) Saints rebuild
Cue the annual joke about New Orleans operating without a salary cap. Year after year, dating back to Drew Brees' days under center, the Saints seemingly find ways to spend money they don't have. Signing Carr to a four-year deal is precisely their kind of move, embracing a chance to stay in the middle of the pack rather than commit to a full-on overhaul. The QB landscape suggests you might actually be better off hitting the reset button, and yet New Orleans refuses to believe its time has past.
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Assuming Aaron Rodgers doesn't retire, Green Bay now has more leverage when it comes to shopping the longtime QB. Why? The Jets have long been considered a favorite to pursue A-Rod, and Carr was reportedly their next-best option, even apparently leaning toward signing with New York in recent days. Now that he's in New Orleans, the Jets' options are thin if they're dead-set on adding an experienced starter. They'd surely rather pay for Rodgers than bank on, say, Jimmy Garoppolo staying healthy.
Not because Las Vegas was wrong to move on from Carr, but because the divorce happened too late. The Raiders should actually be commended for their willingness to cut ties in search of a better long-term answer, even if said answer doesn't arrive in 2023. But the reality is they probably should've done it a year ago, before trading two premium picks for Carr's friend Davante Adams and then later extending Carr out of obligation. By waiting a year, and diminishing Carr's value thanks to a lackluster pairing with Josh McDaniels, the Raiders got literally nothing in return for their Pro Bowl starter.
Winner: Dennis Allen
After a middling debut as Sean Payton's successor, the Saints coach should be elated and, like Carr, fairly confident about his job security. Firstly, Allen has an existing relationship with Carr from their shared time on the Raiders; the former was Carr's first NFL head coach. Secondly, Allen's defense alone somehow kept New Orleans in the wild-card mix late in 2022. While Carr isn't necessarily a massive upgrade on Andy Dalton, he's got a superior ceiling. The fact he got a four-year contract from team brass suggests New Orleans, again, isn't all that interested in a rebuild, meaning Allen won't be immediately saddled with shepherding a totally overhauled roster.