It is Valentine’s Day, which for most people means they can get a really good deal on unsold candy at the store starting tomorrow, but for Las Vegas Raiders fans it likely means Tuesday is the final day of Derek Carr’s nine year tenure as starting quarterback.
The reason that this is likely the last day Carr will be with the Raiders is that the entirety of his 2023 base salary of $32.9M and $7.5M of his 2024 base salary of $41.9M will become fully guaranteed if he is on the roster at 4:00 pm New York time Tuesday afternoon. The Raiders have been attempting to trade Carr in recent weeks, but finding no takers willing to absorb his contract, and with Carr unwilling to take a pay cut to facilitate a trade, he will reportedly be released at some point Tuesday.
There are multiple reasons this is relevant to fans of the Seattle Seahawks, with the first of those reasons being the light that Carr will shed on the appetite of other teams to pursue free agent quarterbacks. With Seahawks signal caller Geno Smith set to hit free agency in a matter of weeks, the stronger Carr’s market is, the more likely it is that Smith could land a big payday in free agency.
However, beyond what any contract Carr might land could foretell regarding a contract for Smith, the biggest takeaway is likely in regards to the market the Raiders found for Carr’s services while attempting to trade him. Specifically, the lack of a market, given his current contract and the fact that he would soon be released.
Any team trading for Carr would have had the quarterback under contract for three more years at cap hits totaling $117M, or effectively a 3-year, $39M deal, with the ability to move on with limited dead money of just $7.5M after a single season. Basically, any team that would trade for Carr would have him under contract for 2023 at $33M, with a $7.5M buyout after a single year. That $33M for 2023 is not far off from the $32.416M amount of the franchise tag for quarterbacks this coming year, meaning that if Carr and Smith are considered comparables in terms of quarterback play, compensation for any trade should be similar.
Well, the market the Raiders found for Carr was lukewarm at best, with reports indicating that the trade off they had agreed to with the New Orleans Saints was for a third round pick, though were willing to accept less if it facilitated completing the deal. So, for those who consider Carr a similar quarterback to Geno, Carr on a one year deal at a very similar cost to the franchise tag was worth up to a third round pick, perhaps less.
That, of course, would appear to throw cold water on the idea of a tag and trade for Smith, before even taking into consideration the complications that come with a tag and trade. Specifically, while the cap hit associated with a franchise tag is in place as soon as the player is tagged, there is no ability to trade the tagged player until such time as they have signed the tag. In essence, this gives the tagged player a no trade clause, and could greatly complicate matters associated with any tag and trade. It was through exercising this leverage that Jadeveon Clowney vetoed a trade to the Miami Dolphins in 2019, eventually forcing the Houston Texans to pay half his salary prior to trading him to Seattle on the eve of the season.
In short, there’s certainly no guarantee that there won’t be teams interested in trading for a franchise tagged Geno, but the returns on such a trade could be disappointing compared to what many fans might be dreaming of. Thus, from here the best thing to do would appear to be to wait and watch what kind of market Carr finds as a free agent in the coming days, as that will likely shed significant light on the appetite of teams to spend on free agent quarterbacks who will be 32 for Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season with a single postseason start on their resume.