PALM BEACH, Fla. — With good friend Davante Adams now signed with the Raiders, conventional wisdom would suggest Derek Carr is next in line for a new contract.
He is, after all, a big reason why Adams landed in Las Vegas from Green Bay. So as Carr enters the final year of his contract, fresh off leading the Raiders to the playoffs, it makes sense the club would create extended cost certainty at the most important position on the field.
But as Carr and the Raiders ease their way into contract talks, finding common ground on a deal that satisfies the needs and objectives of both sides might take some time.
“Ultimately, you try to do what’s best for the team and I think both sides gotta do what’s best for (themselves),” Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels said Monday at the NFL owners meetings. “There will be a sweet spot in there, hopefully, for everybody and we’ll be excited to go forward like that.”
To which Carr’s agent, Tim Younger, responded in a tweet: “Clubs always do ‘what is best for the team’ in every situation. Players (even QBs) don’t expect teams to do ‘what is best for the player.’ Successful negotiations always end in a sweet spot. That said, our practice is not to comment publicly regarding ongoing negotiations.”
McDaniels stressed that the Raiders are committed to Carr as the anchor of their offense.
“Derek’s fit on the team as a player is obviously what we’re looking for and what we’re trying to build around,” McDaniels said. “Our relationship continues to grow.”
Ultimately, this is about compensation. With the quarterback market escalating, identifying common ground could be tricky. In the last two weeks alone, the Rams’ Matthew Stafford signed a three-year, $129 million extension that guarantees him $135 million over the four-year length of the deal, and Deshaun Watson agreed to the most lucrative contract in NFL history at a fully guaranteed $230 million over five years upon being traded to the Browns.
Carr’s comp is more along the lines of Stafford. The sense is he would be willing to slot somewhere below Stafford’s mark in both years and compensation. That could ultimately take shape as a two-year extension at $40 million per season which, when rolled into the one-year, $20 million he is slated to make this year, creates a three-year, $100 million deal for an annual average salary of $33 million and $60-to-$65 million guaranteed.
That average per year would slot Carr at 10th in the NFL among his peers, just behind the $33.5 million for the Lions’ Jared Goff and slightly ahead of the $32 million for Washington’s Carson Wentz.
Six quarterbacks are scheduled to make $40 million or more in 2022, including the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott and Stafford ($40 million), Buffalo’s Josh Allen ($43 million) Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes ($45 million), Watson ($46 million) and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers ($50.2 million).
That number figures to grow within the next year or so as the Chargers’ Justin Herbert, Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow and Arizona’s Kyler Murray all close in on new deals.
On the other hand, both McDaniels and Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler are cut from the New England Patriots mold. Part of which includes the willingness of quarterback Tom Brady to play for less than top market value in order to leave room under the cap for the Patriots to build the best team around him. They could expect Carr to do the same.
All of which brings us back to the Raiders and Carr finding that sweet spot.
“When we get in those conversations with Derek, Derek’s gonna have to make decisions about what’s best for him. That’s what each man’s right is, and they should do that for their families,” said McDaniels. “And at the same time, we’ve got to try to do what’s right for the team.”
One would think that common ground is found long before the Raiders begin training camp. With everything in place for a playoff run, the last thing they need is a contract squabble with their quarterback.
Contact Vincent Bonsignore at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.