Are the New York Jets the leaders of the Derek Carr sweepstakes?
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According to recent odds from DraftKings Sportsbook, the New York Jets are currently the betting favorites to land Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Here are the top eight teams with the best odds of landing Carr, per DraftKings Sportsbook, as of January 17:
- New York Jets (+400)
- Indianapolis Colts (+425)
- Tennessee Titans (+650)
- New Orleans Saints (+800)
- Washington Commanders (+900)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1000)
- New England Patriots (+1100)
- Carolina Panthers (+1200)
Are the Jets really the favorites to land Carr?
Let’s go through all eight of the aforementioned Carr contenders and discuss the plausibility of them landing Carr. For each team, we’ll break down the reasons to believe they will get Carr and the reasons they won’t get Carr.
New York Jets
Why they will
The classic moniker “just a quarterback away” is more applicable to the New York Jets than any other team in the NFL right now. New York just endured a 7-10 season with the NFL’s fourth-ranked scoring defense and 29th-ranked scoring offense – despite that offense featuring a solid group of weapons. It was clear that a league-average starting quarterback likely would have led the Jets to the playoffs with ease.
Head coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas figure to be on the hot seat entering 2023. If they endure a third consecutive non-playoff season (fourth in Douglas’ case), there is a very real chance that both could be fired. With this in mind, Saleh and Douglas will likely be hellbent to make win-now moves this offseason, maximizing their odds of securing a playoff spot in 2023.
Considering these factors, the Jets figure to be major players in the veteran quarterback market this offseason. Carr checks a lot of the boxes New York will be looking for. He is good enough, durable enough, and consistent enough to make them immediate playoff contenders while not costing the farm in terms of trade assets or salary (relative to someone like Lamar Jackson or Aaron Rodgers).
Remember, Carr will be able to decide where he goes. He has a no-trade clause and might even be released into free agency anyway. So, for each team, we much think about whether Carr would want to go there.
If winning a championship is truly Carr’s top priority (as he claimed in his farewell post), the Jets are his best option out of these eight teams. Outside of the quarterback position, the Jets’ roster is more championship-ready than any other team on this list. They have a top-5 defense, excellent young weapons on offense, and an offensive line that has the pieces to be solid if it can stay healthy.
New York also has a reputable culture under Robert Saleh, who is a notoriously player-friendly coach. I think Saleh’s coaching style would be appealing to Carr after playing for coaches like Josh McDaniels and Jon Gruden. An anonymous offensive coach with the Raiders was once quoted as saying, “[Carr] is sensitive and needs encouragement, and that is not the style he is going to get [from Gruden] … When someone shows disappointment in him, he shrinks. The head coach not coming out and completely endorsing him has to be eating him alive.”
After hearing how Saleh talked about Zach Wilson throughout 2022, Jets fans know Saleh would back Carr through anything if he came to the Jets. Saleh seems like the exact type of coach that fits Carr’s personality.
Why they won’t
Carr is a west coast guy who has spent his entire life in warm climates. He has never lived on the east coast or in a cold climate. He also has notable career struggles in cold-weather games. Above all, if Carr truly is “sensitive”, one has to wonder whether he can handle the New York media (or if he even wants to).
Will Carr be open to New York/New Jersey? It’s not hard to imagine Carr avoiding this daunting market at all costs.
The Jets also play in a tough division that presents a rocky road to the Super Bowl. Joining the Jets means you have to deal with the powerhouse Bills, an up-and-coming Dolphins team, and Bill Belichick. This is no AFC South or NFC South.
There’s certainly a chance that Carr simply does not want to be a Jet.
Why they will
The Colts are the first team everyone thought of as the best option for Carr when it became clear he’d be available. Carr fits right into the Colts’ recent affinity for cast-off franchise quarterbacks: Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, and Matt Ryan.
Indianapolis offers a dome stadium that can protect Carr from the cold weather. Additionally, he gets to play in the AFC South, one of the softest divisions in the league. The AFC South also guarantees him three road games in non-cold-weather stadiums.
Why they won’t
I’m not sure a Carr-Colts marriage is appealing for either side.
The Colts are in a much different situation than they were when they added those three cast-off veterans. They finally have a chance to draft their own young quarterback to develop. That is an option they did not have in any of the past three seasons, when they consistently landed in the middle of the first round. Indy now has the fourth pick in the draft, which, if used, would be their highest draft pick since they took Andrew Luck first overall in 2012.
Plus, the Colts are a bad team. They won four games with a -138 point differential. When they acquired Rivers, Wentz, and Ryan, they still looked like a team that might be able to compete for the division title if they had a good quarterback. Now, the Colts have tumbled into rebuilding mode. Strapping themselves to Carr as a team that is not playoff-ready seems like an unwise decision.
From Carr’s perspective, if he wants to win, the Colts are not an appealing place to go. This team is far away from title contention.
Why they will
The Titans are trying to salvage a closing window to win a title – if that window hasn’t closed already (2021 was their best shot). Mike Vrabel is a fantastic head coach who has his team overachieving and winning close games every year. Tennessee has been a threat to win every game it has played since Vrabel came in.
Ryan Tannehill is still under contract with the Titans for one more season, but he had a down year in 2022 that ended with ankle surgery. Perhaps the Titans trade or release Tannehill and look for a fresh start with Carr to try and make one last run.
Tennessee is appealing for Carr. The Titans offer the same AFC South benefits I mentioned in the Colts section: soft division, warm climate, and three non-cold stadiums to face on the road. Playing under Vrabel has to be very appealing for Carr, who dealt with a nonstop carousel of lackluster head coaches with the Raiders. The Titans’ winning pedigree is another thing that Carr will love.
Why they won’t
Tannehill will not be cheap for the Titans to move on from. Tennessee will eat $18.8 million in dead money to either trade or release him. Would they want to do that when he has just one year left on his contract? Is Carr really enough of an upgrade to be worth doing it?
The Titans have one of the worst cap situations in the league. According to Spotrac, they are projected to be $23,347,933 over the cap this offseason. Fitting Carr onto their cap sheet alongside Tannehill’s dead money would be difficult, to say the least.
From Carr’s point of view, there are reasons for concern. Tennessee’s offensive line ranked 32nd in pass-blocking efficiency this past season. That has to be alarming for Carr after he played behind a Raiders line that ranked 27th in the same category last season. Overall, the Titans had a rough year in 2022, going 7-10 with a -68 point differential, which is much worse than the Raiders’ -23 point differential. It seems like the Titans are trending down, and it’s no guarantee they’re even a better team than Las Vegas.
And while the AFC South is generally a soft division, the Jaguars are rising as a threat to dominate the division for years to come.
Does Carr really have a chance to win in Tennessee? I think Carr will be intrigued by many things about the Titans, but if he wants to win, I’m not sure Tennessee is a great place for him to do that. The Titans might have one last run in them, but considering their massive decline in 2022 and the trajectory of Jacksonville, Carr’s window to win in Tennessee might not last any longer than one year. Committing long-term with a declining Titans team does not seem like what Carr would want after spending nine years with the rudderless Raiders.
New Orleans Saints
Why they will
Going to the NFC South offers Carr many of the same benefits as the AFC South. It’s a soft division with four teams who either play in a dome or a warm climate. Best of all, with Tom Brady possibly on the way out of Tampa Bay, the door is wide open for someone to take over the division throne.
With no first-round pick this year, New Orleans figures to be a player in the veteran quarterback market.
The Saints can be an appealing place for Carr to try and win. In 2022, they had the ninth-ranked scoring defense but were held back by the 22nd-ranked scoring offense. New Orleans’ offensive line ranked 12th-best in pass-blocking efficiency. Star receiver Michael Thomas also projects to return in 2023. All of these things point to the Saints having a real chance to win the division with a quarterback like Carr.
Saints head coach Dennis Allen was Carr’s head coach as a rookie – although he was fired four games into that season.
Why they won’t
Simply put, New Orleans is in cap hell. According to Spotrac, they are projected to be $52.9 million over the cap this offseason. Affording Carr would require an incredible effort – if it is even possible at all.
Carr probably wants to win, but not at the cost of earning the money that he deserves. I’m not sure the Saints can afford Carr at the price he will command.
Why they will
Washington’s roster is structured similarly to New York’s. The Commanders just had an eight-win season in which they ranked seventh-best in scoring defense but 24th in scoring offense. It’s another defense-leaning team that lacks a solid quarterback and could have been intimidating if it had one in 2022. With Carr instead of Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke, the Commanders would have been a playoff team.
The Commanders are loaded with appealing weapons offensively, including a top-tier receiver in Terry McLaurin.
Why they won’t
Derek’s brother David said recently that Derek will look for teams that have a “stable situation between their head coach and their ownership.” If Carr is considering ownership in his decision, then the Commanders are probably not high on his list. Not much more needs to be said about that.
Washington also offers a lot of the same question marks as the New York market. It’s a cold climate on the east coast, is one of the nation’s larger media markets, and comes with plenty of pressure.
The Commanders’ offensive line is another concern, as it ranked 31st in pass-blocking efficiency last season. (If you’re wondering, the Jets’ offensive line – even with all of its injuries – still managed to rank 22nd in this category last season.)
The NFC East looks like a tough division to play in. Every one of its teams had a .500+ record in 2022, and three of them are still alive going into the divisional round.
All of this might be a moot point, anyway. Recent reports indicate the Commanders may have already committed to Sam Howell, their 2022 fifth-round pick, as their starting quarterback for 2023.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Why they will
As we mentioned with New Orleans, the NFC South offers appealing benefits to Carr. He gets to play in a soft division that is filled with warm climates and domes.
The main reason Tampa Bay is on this list is the uncertainty of Tom Brady’s future. If Brady retires or leaves, the Buccaneers will be left searching for a quarterback.
With the NFC South still wide-open and the Buccaneers roster still possessing much of the core that helped them win the Super Bowl in 2020, Tampa Bay will likely try to continue competing for a championship rather than pursue a rebuild, which means a veteran like Carr could be in play.
Tampa Bay has an appealing core for Carr to step into. The Buccaneers’ offensive line led the NFL in pass-blocking efficiency this past season. On the outside, Carr gets to throw the ball to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. The only big question mark is Tampa Bay’s atrocious run game.
Why they won’t
Like New Orleans, Tampa Bay is in cap hell. The Buccaneers rank 32nd in the NFL in projected cap room as they are currently expected to be $55,207,949 over the cap. Fitting Carr into their cap sheet will require them to move mountains.
New England Patriots
Why they will
Mac Jones had a very rough second season for the Patriots in 2022. He was one of the league’s worst quarterbacks in just about any metric, taking a huge step backward from his impressive rookie year.
If the Patriots want to give up on developing Jones and make a big swing to try and get back into the competitive AFC East mix, Carr makes sense. His rocket arm would help the Patriots reopen their downfield passing game after they showed a clear lack of faith in Jones throughout the 2022 season, asking him to throw a ridiculously high number of screens.
With the fifth-most projected cap space in the NFL ($46.2 million), the Patriots are prepared to pursue Carr.
Why they won’t
Going back to what we said about Saleh/Gruden in the Jets section, the famously strict Bill Belichick doesn’t seem to match Carr’s preferred coaching style.
New England also presents the same east coast/cold climate/big market questions that New York and Washington present.
The Patriots would give Carr a decent offensive line, as their unit ranked 16th in pass-blocking efficiency last year, but the weapons are not appealing. Jakobi Meyers led the Patriots with 804 receiving yards, and outside of him, no other Patriot even reached 600 receiving yards. New England’s current stable of weapons would have a case to be the worst Carr has played with in his career.
New England’s offensive system is another question mark here. Carr just had somewhat of a down year in his first season under Josh McDaniels, the former longtime Patriots offensive coordinator. If he went to New England, Carr would be playing in a similar offense to the one he just ran with McDaniels, which led to underwhelming results by Carr’s standards.
From New England’s perspective, it seems a little early to give up on Jones. He had a fantastic rookie season and looked like he was trending toward being the perfect successor to Tom Brady. A lot of Jones’ issues in 2022 could be blamed on the poor support around him, whether it was the weapons, the coaching, or the offensive line. It remains to be seen whether the Patriots are actually in the quarterback market.
Why they will
Another NFC South team. That speaks for itself by now.
The Panthers are going after Sean Payton, so if they can land the big-time offensive coach, Carolina immediately becomes an intriguing option for Carr.
Carolina also presents Carr with an up-and-coming offensive line that ranked fifth in pass-blocking efficiency this past season behind some newly added young talent, namely sixth overall pick Ikem Ekwonu.
Why they won’t
The Panthers have been fishing down the retread well ever since Cam Newton’s prime ended, and it hasn’t worked well at all. From Teddy Bridgewater to Sam Darnold to Baker Mayfield, the Panthers have continuously avoided rebuilding and tried to continue competing, but it has not worked out.
Picking ninth overall in this year’s draft, Carolina finally has a golden opportunity to draft and develop its own franchise quarterback for the first time since they did it with Newton. While Carr is much better than Bridgewater, Darnold, or Mayfield, I’m not sure this rebuilding Panthers team is going to pass up on drafting a quarterback top-10 just to lock itself into Carr.
Conceivably, the Panthers could add Carr as a bridge quarterback while developing the youngster behind him, but Carr is probably too expensive for that role when Carolina could get someone much cheaper to do it (such as Darnold, who finished 2022 strong). Carr also seems unlikely to be interested in being a fort-holder.
Outside of the offensive line, Carolina does not look like a ready-made contender that is just a quarterback away. The Panthers’ defense ranked 19th in points allowed and 22nd in yards allowed while their skill-position group is one of the league’s worst. Outside of D.J. Moore, they did not have a player reach even 500 receiving yards, and they lack a star running back after trading Christian McCaffrey.
Carolina only went 3-8 with a -57 point differential against teams from outside of the pitiful NFC South. It’s a team that remains further away from contention than its 7-10 record might suggest. If Carr wants to win, I don’t see him choosing Carolina. Hiring Payton could change things, but looking at the Panthers’ roster, Carr isn’t getting anything better than what he had with the Raiders.
Are the Jets on top?
The biggest factor here is how much stock Carr places into non-roster things such as the climate, market, and division strength. If Carr values those things highly, the Jets might not be appealing to him. But if his primary focus is the quality of the roster, the Jets seem to be his best option. The Jets also figure to be the team most likely to pursue him due to the combination of need and available cap space.
If we combine all seven of the other teams and pit them against the Jets, then I would probably say there is a greater chance Carr takes one of the others over New York. But looking at each team individually, it does seem the Jets are the likeliest squad to land him.
Would you agree?
How many hours did it take you to write this? This is an exhaustive, well-researched and complete article on one of my favorite players in the NFL. I wanted to draft him. Carr is an amazing human being. He will probably go into the ministry after football. If we were to land him, it would instill so much hope into the upcoming season. We need quality play at the QB position. Its been so long! We have to pull the trigger. I think Carr would be great as our QB. I would love Olsen as our OC too. Lets hire him and maybe Carr will come.
I think the coach and the franchise will be more important than the fans in terms of Carr’s psyche. Saleh is the father figure Carr needs.And there are plenty of areas in NJ that look like Fresno where Carr is from (and where I have lived for many of the last 30 years).
I would also look to sign Greg Olsen as OC. He’s worked with Carr before with great success. It would make Carr feel more comfortable coming to a system he’s familiar with, and his ability to teach the system to his new teammates will help his teammates quickly develop respect for his leadership. Olsen is also great at fixing QBs, which will be beneficial for Zach’s future. We have a great locker room, and as long as we’re winning, the fans won’t be a issue.
As for acquiring Carr, I would offer Las Vegas Elijah Moore and Laken Tomlinson. Moore is a malcontent and one of the only locker room cancers we have, but he’s also young, very talented, and affordable. Pairing him with Davante Adams would look great. Tomlinson, for all his problems, would still be upgrade at Guard for the Raiders, and would help our cap so we can go out and sign Allan Lazard to replace Moore.
I agree with the observations in this article. The Jets probably have the best roster of any team listed, with the possible exception of the Commanders. Carr’s brother has a Super Bowl ring from the Giants and it has to appeal to him to have one of his own.
Talentwise, I don’t see the Jets being a 4th place team in the division if they get adequate QB play. If they get good QB play they may easily challenge Buffalo for the division champ.
I also believe Carr is smart enough to know this may be his last big contract and, at some point in each player’s career, money talks. If the Jets remain competitive price wise I think they have the best chance to land Carr.
Great piece, as I wrote earlier, I don’t see it with Carr for the Jets. I just think those other spots offer more of what he wants. I can’t imagine him wanting to win a Super Bowl factoring into the decision and go to a division with Buff, Mia, and NE, and stay in the same Conference as, Mahomes, Allen, Herbert, Jackson, an ascending Lawrence, and who knows about Russ. I also think you hit the nail on the head with the “market” and living situation, there is nothing about him that “screams NY” and he will have options elsewhere. At this point my money is on Tenn.
Side note, I don’t think Saleh or Joe are on the hot seat at all. I think it’s a “media myth” the Woody is impatient, he went plenty of time with Herm, Rex, and Bowles. Mangini was the only “quick” out and I think it had a lot to do with his personality. Gase was on Christopher’s watch. I think you ride Joe and Saleh min 5 seasons. This team was barely NFL worthy when both guys got here, now you are saying they fit the “QB away” category.
Speaking of “quarterback away” be careful. I never believe that’s a real thing, just ask Denver. They were just a QB away last season. This will be a new team, with new challenges, and players will have to replicate performances, as well as guys improving.
Yeah, Carr certainly doesn’t strike me as a NY guy. I still lean towards it happening but if it doesn’t I would not be shocked.
It would be interesting to see what happens if the Jets miss the playoffs again – hopefully we don’t find out! I lean toward a reset if they miss it again but it all depends on how it goes down. Did the QB play well? How healthy was the team? What was the final record? What was the quality of the wins and the losses? All that good stuff. I can definitely see Bob and Joe staying if they miss the playoffs at 9-8 or 10-7 in an impressive fashion (high-quality wins, high point differential, good development of young talent, etc.). With an ugly winning record or a losing record, though, I have a hard time seeing it, but as I said, we’d have to see exactly how that happens. (Again… let’s hope this is a moot point.)
Good point on players replicating performances… that’s an extremely crucial factor that people often forget. Nothing that happened in one season is guaranteed to carry over into the next. Looking at this Jets team, can Q replicate his great year after he gets paid? Can Sauce maintain his excellence? Reed? Offensively, will Breece and AVT be the same post-injuries? Fans often assume the good stuff will continue and think everything will be fine if they just fix the bad stuff, but it never works that way. Everything fluctuates, both the good and the bad. You just try your best to come out on the positive end of as many things as possible.