Jesse Pantuosco

Bump and Run

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Carr Makes Bank

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Every man has his price. Derek Carr’s was $125 million.

 

If that sounds like a lot of dough, that’s because it is. That’s Kenny Powers money. In fact, on a per year basis, Carr’s deal with the Raiders is the richest in NFL history. In total money, it’s the sixth-largest behind deals signed by Andrew Luck, Calvin Johnson, Michael Vick, Jay Cutler and Colin Kaepernick. Luck’s $140 million pact with Indianapolis still stands as the league’s high-water mark.

 

With free agency being what it is now, it’s become increasingly rare for players to spend their entire career with one team. But by all accounts, Carr seems ready to make that commitment. “I don’t want to play anywhere else,” said Carr. “If they’ll let me sign a 20-year deal, let’s do it.”

 

The Raiders have locked up their quarterback of the future, but there’s still work to be done. Carr claimed he wasn’t “chasing every dime” in negotiations, a popular refrain from players looking to prop up their team-first brand. But in Carr’s case, he might actually mean it. You’ll notice that Carr’s five-year deal is heavily back-loaded, which gives the Raiders the cap flexibility to add more pieces while keeping their core intact.

 

Earning a well-deserved raise was certainly high on Carr’s to-do list, but doing so while keeping the band together was always his preference. "I told [my agent], if we can structure it in a way to help the Raiders get the other guys, give them an opportunity to come in, that that would be really important to me too," said Carr. "I just wanted to get mine done and, like we talked about, make sure the team had the flexibility to make sure my friends stay around.”

 

Adam Sandler likes to make movies with his buddies and Carr likes to play football with his. With Carr taken care of, Oakland’s focus will soon shift to Gabe Jackson, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal. A third-rounder out of Mississippi State in 2014 (he overlapped two years with Cowboys phenom Dak Prescott), Jackson has developed into one of the league’s most consistent guards, earning positive marks from ProFootballFocus in each of his three seasons. If you’re going to throw $125 million at a franchise quarterback, the best way to protect that investment would be to surround him with a sturdy offensive line. Toward that end, getting Jackson squared away would be a great first step.

 

Jackson’s deal should come to fruition relatively soon, but at some point in the not-so-distant future, the Raiders will have to address the elephant in the room. That’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack, who is certain to make a boatload of cash on his next contract. With the way things are headed, Mack seems destined to become the highest-paid defensive player of all-time, an honor currently held by Broncos linebacker Von Miller. There isn’t as much urgency with Mack—he still has two years left on his deal and the Raiders could easily add a third by assigning him the franchise tag. But when the time comes, you better believe Oakland will be holding onto Mack for dear life.

 

Inevitably, some will question how deserving Carr is of being the NFL’s highest-paid player. Debating it is useless because if history has taught us anything, he won’t hold the mantle for long. Carr has set the market at $25 million annually, a threshold that all future quarterbacks will be measured against. As the league’s revenue increases and the salary cap rises to infinity, contracts for starting quarterbacks will skyrocket to absurd levels, eventually making Carr’s deal look like chump change.

 

Carr was the first domino to fall but far from the last. Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan are both seeking extensions while Kirk Cousins, who has been playing under the franchise tag for what feels like a decade, could be in for a major windfall if he ever wins his tug of war with the Redskins. Looking a little further down the line, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota will soon be adjusting to life in a new tax bracket while Aaron Rodgers has also hinted at wanting a bigger piece of the Packers’ pie.

 

Carr isn’t Tom Brady, at least not yet. But he’s well on his way to becoming the next Raiders great. The fourth quarterback drafted in 2014 behind the underwhelming trio of Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater, Carr has already produced 81 touchdowns including 28 during last year’s breakout season. More importantly, he’s shaped the Raiders into a legitimate contender, returning them to the playoffs last year for the first time since 2002.

 

Never was Carr’s value to the Raiders more evident than during his absence late last season. His broken leg in Week 16 completely took the wind out of Oakland’s sails. After Matt McGloin’s shoulder injury knocked him out early in Week 17, the Raiders called on rookie Connor Cook to take the reigns at QB. Cook—who admitted after the game that he didn’t know some of the plays that he was running in the huddle (that’s called over-sharing)—took a beating as the Raiders lost to Denver in embarrassing fashion. That defeat cost Oakland the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. Cook didn’t fare much better in the Wild Card Round, throwing three interceptions in an ugly loss to Houston. It was a sobering end to a season that once held so much promise and all Carr could do was watch.

 

It’s ironic that Carr’s future could look so bright while the franchise he plays for is shrouded in a fog of uncertainty. The Raiders have already signed on to play in Las Vegas with a tentative plan for a new stadium to be in place by 2020. But as we’ve already seen with the delay of the Rams’ and Chargers’ joint venue in Inglewood (the Dunkin’ Donuts Park fiasco in Connecticut is another recent example), ETAs aren’t to be trusted in the fickle world of stadium construction. Oakland is expected to house the Raiders for two more seasons, though they’ll probably have to find new digs after that. Where they’ll spend the 2019 campaign is anyone’s guess. That’s a tough sell for prospective free agents, though if the Raiders have a strong enough roster in place, the rest will take care of itself.

 

Newly minted Raider Marshawn Lynch has delivered his fair share of iconic moments through the years—Beastquakes 1 and 2, his trips to Applebee’s, the Conan appearances, his blatant mockery of all things media. But Lynch will never escape Seattle’s failure in Super XLIX. What should have been a career-defining moment for Lynch turned on a dime when the Seahawks foolishly opted to pass on the 1-yard-line with 26 seconds remaining. Suddenly one of the league’s best goal-line backs was rendered a spectator like the rest of us, watching helplessly as Seattle’s chance for a second title disappeared into the waiting hands of Malcolm Butler.

 

But with Carr under center, Lynch won’t have to live that nightmare twice. “There's no pressure, there's no, 'We'll be on the 1-yard line and I won't give it to Marshawn, I'll throw it.' None of that stuff," said Carr. "I don’t care if I throw 10 touchdowns next year. If we win every game, that’s all I care about.”

 

The Raiders won’t win every game, but with Carr calling the shots, they should win most of them.

 

Quick Hits: Michael Floyd was sentenced to one day in jail for violating the terms of his house arrest. Specifically, Floyd tested positive for alcohol, failing five tests (he claimed the failed tests were triggered by drinking Kombucha tea). The Vikings are expected to retain Floyd despite his slip-up … According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Rams will not reach a long-term agreement with CB Trumaine Johnson before the July 17 deadline. The Rams don’t seem convinced that Johnson, who will earn $16.742 million under the franchise tag this season, is a fit for new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ man-coverage scheme … The Saints have placed DT Nick Fairley on the reserve/NFI list. Fairley is expected to miss all of 2017 due to a heart condition and his career could be in jeopardy. The 2011 first-round pick agreed to a new four-year, $28 million contract earlier this offseason … Cam Newton is committed to changing his style of play, claiming he doesn’t have to “always be the playmaker.” The former MVP resumed throwing for the first time in three months earlier this week. Naturally, the Panthers made a hype video to announce the news … Redskins beat reporter Rich Tandler of CSN Mid-Atlantic expects Jamison Crowder to out-target offseason signing Terrelle Pryor. Crowder finished third on the Redskins in targets last year behind DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon (who both left in free agency), but led the team with seven touchdown receptions … NFL Network’s Charley Casserly doesn’t “see any way” that the Redskins will sign Kirk Cousins to a long-term extension before next month’s July 17 deadline. Adam Schefter agrees it’s probably a “long shot. Cousins will earn $23.94 million under the one-year franchise tag this season … The Chiefs are beginning to interview candidates for their GM vacancy including Titans director of player personnel Ryan Crowden and Seahawks co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer. Chiefs co-director of player personnel Brett Veach is the leading in-house candidate to replace John Dorsey, who was let go in a surprise move last week … Eagles WRs coach Mike Groh said Alshon Jeffery had his best offseason since 2013, the year he set a career-high with 1,421 receiving yards. Groh and Jeffery spent three seasons together in Chicago before reuniting in Philadelphia this offseason … Beat reporter Brad Briggs of the Chicago Tribune doesn’t consider Zach Miller a lock for the Bears’ 53-man roster. The veteran tight end will face competition from second-round rookie Adam Shaheen and Daniel Brown, the subject of one of Rotoworld’s best running jokes (scroll through his old blurbs if you want a chuckle) … Le’Veon Bell tweeted out a video of himself playing basketball over the weekend. Bell seems to have recovered nicely from offseason groin surgery, though he’s yet to sign his $12.1 million franchise tender. The 25-year-old was absent from Steelers OTAs this spring … Texans WRs coach John Perry has been talking up second-year wideout Braxton Miller. Specifically, Perry believes Miller has the “quickness and speed” to be a successful slot receiver. The former Ohio State star nabbed 15 catches for 99 yards and one touchdown as a rookie last year … ESPN Dolphins reporter James Walker projects Jay Ajayi to finish with over 1,900 combined rushing and receiving yards this year. Only two running backs (Ezekiel Elliott and David Johnson) eclipsed that mark in 2016 … According to Connor Hughes of NJ Advance Media, first-round safety Jamal Adams was “arguably” the Jets’ best player during OTAs. The LSU alum will begin the year as New York’s starting strong safety … Vince Young threw a heavy dose of shade at his former coach, annihilating Jeff Fisher in a profile with Sports Illustrated. Young described one incident in particular where Fisher had the team plane intentionally leave without him. Welcome to Kevin McCallister’s world, Vince.



Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
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