For nine seasons, Derek Carr was the face of the Oakland and later Las Vegas Raiders. As the 36th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, Carr immediately started under center for the team. It was an uneven tenure, with only two winning seasons — the same two seasons that resulted in trips to the playoffs — though it's hard to pin all the losing on Carr. After the 2021 season and playoff appearance, it looked like the Raiders were turning a corner. But a disappointing 2022 resulted in Carr's public benching with two weeks remaining in the season and the severing of a once-strong relationship.
The Raiders looked to trade Carr but ultimately released him to avoid paying a massive penalty. After his release, Carr joined the New Orleans Saints. NFL Network reporters Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo broke the details of Carr's new contract. The deal is worth $150 million over four years, with $100 million in total guarantees.
But, as with many NFL contracts, things aren't always what they seem on the surface. Let's dive a bit further into the deal.
The Raiders owed Carr $33 million this season, $75 million over the next two years and $116.3 million over the next three years. He'll make $30 million, $60 million and $100 million over those same timeframes in New Orleans.
The final $50 million probably won't actually end up happening, at least the way it's structured now. Carr will be 35 years old by the time that final season approaches, and it's likely the Saints will look to make some kind of change, whether it's re-working the deal or seeking a trade partner.
Carr will also leave a state with no state income tax (Nevada) for one that does have a state income tax (Louisiana). The highest tax bracket in Louisiana is 4.25%, which isn't as bad as, say, New York, a place Carr also considered. While the "jock tax" means Carr will pay income tax based on where he plays his games, for simplicity's sake, we can assume he'll lose about $4 to $7 million over the duration of this deal that he would have otherwise kept in Las Vegas.
Slight financial hit aside, this is a victory for Carr. Las Vegas didn't want him, and because of the timing of his release, he got to hit the free agent market a month earlier than most other quarterbacks. He had a no-trade clause with the Raiders; he'll also have one with the Saints. Those details have given him more control over his future and will continue to do so.
Plus, at this stage of his career, Carr has already made north of $135 million. His top priority is to win football games, and he's joining a much more advantageous situation. The Saints are in the worst division in football — remember, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the NFC South with an 8-9 record last season. Carr should be an upgrade from the Jameis Winston/Andy Dalton combo the Saints used last season, and no other team in the division has gotten much better this offseason.
That could put the Saints as the divisional favorites. If they can secure a playoff bid, anything is possible from there.