Take a look at the current NFL standings, would you? How many teams are above .500 with less-than-optimal situations under center? The New York Jets, New England Patriots, and Tennessee Titans are all on the playoff bubble and have all either endured mediocre-to-poor quarterback play, and the Titans even have an out in Ryan Tannehill’s contract ahead of the 2023 season. In the NFC, the New York Giants, Washington Commanders, and San Francisco 49ers have all experienced massive success without a great option under center. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be without Tom Brady next year. The Atlanta Falcons have remained in playoff contention despite Marcus Mariota being their signal-caller. You get the point. There are a lot of teams who seem to be a quarterback away from being an elite franchise.
We’ve just passed the two-thirds point of the 2022 season. Rumors have already begun circling social media concerning the likes of Daniel Jones, Zach Wilson, and Derek Carr. Carr is undoubtedly the best of the bunch, and with the Las Vegas Raiders performing below their expectations this year, it seems Carr could be on the move ahead of 2023. (He has, however, said he wants to remain a Raider). So, which teams are the most enticing for these quarterbacks who could be in potentially new places, and which teams are most inclined to trade up for one of the young stars in the draft? That’s what we’re aiming for here.
The Giants and Jets are the most likely teams to trade up in the draft for a new quarterback. Sure, they are both playing well this year, but neither team is in a position to compete for a Super Bowl with an above-average signal-caller in Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo — although I don’t think he’ll be going anywhere given Lance’s fragility and the success the Niners have seen thus far. The Giants currently have an extra third-round pick due to the Kadarius Toney trade and would likely offer a few firsts and that extra third in exchange for a top-three pick. Given that there are only three quarterbacks widely regarded as game-changers in the upcoming draft — Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, Alabama’s Bryce Young, and Kentucky’s Will Levis — the Seattle Seahawks, who currently hold the No. 3 pick, and the Chicago Bears, who currently hold the No. 2 pick, would be the most sensible trade partners since both teams already have their quarterbacks of the future. Sure, there is still a chance that the Seahawks could move on from Geno Smith, but the team has so many holes that need to be filled at other positions, that even with their abundance of draft picks in 2023 and beyond, accruing even more isn’t a bad option, and if the right offer came along, I’m sure they’d be willing to let Smith start for at least one more season.
With both the AFC and NFC East looking like the toughest divisions in football, I would expect the Giants and Jets to make hard pushes for top-3 picks. Where does that leave Derek Carr though? Well, unless the Raiders have a clear plan of attack to replace Carr, the price for the former Pro Bowler could be too high for any team looking to upgrade at QB. Should Tom Brady choose to hang up his cleats after this season, the Bucs seem like a team that would be interested in maintaining solid-level quarterback play as even without Brady, they’d still likely compete for an NFC South title. The New Orleans Saints are in a similar boat. Despite rather underwhelming play from Andy Dalton — contrary to what PFF might tell you — they’ve managed to look capable at times and with a more dynamic passer, they could compete for an NFC South title, especially if Brady retires after this season.
The Saints are already in trouble via the draft after trading up for Chris Olave last year, so why not use this year’s draft as a wash to trade for a considerable upgrade at quarterback? I mean, they could take a shot on projected second-round picks like University of Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, Stanford’s Tanner McKee, Florida’s Anthony Richardson, or University of Miami’s Tyler van Dyke, but Carr would come with the fewest question marks, and if the Saints want to win right now, Carr might be their best option. That said, New Orleans is also in cap hell. As of right now, they will be nearly $63.5 million in the red for 2023. Carr’s cap hit in 2023 will be $34,875,000. That isn’t exactly an ideal situation, and if the Saints can’t pull the same magic they did a few years ago when they cleared $111 million in cap space seemingly overnight, then the money could push New Orleans away from Carr.
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Other teams that could be interested in Carr include the Titans (barring any major decision on Tannehill), the Detroit Lions, the New England Patriots (although I’d never expect Belichick to make a move like this), and of course, the Raiders. Frankly, I don’t think Carr has played that horrendously this year. I believe much of the Raiders’ offensive woes fall on head coach Josh McDaniels’ shoulders coupled with injuries to both Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. The Raiders were supposed to have one of the most intimidating passing attacks in the NFL this year. Their second-leading receiver is Mack Hollins, who’d started only eight games in his career prior to 2022.
Las Vegas doesn’t have the money to fire Josh McDaniels, and thus, it’s easy to assume Carr’s struggles would continue into 2023 if he remains with the team. That’s all the more incentive to trade him away.
Most reports assume that Carr would draw a second-round pick and some if traded away. The Raiders are a cash-poor team and in need of some changes on offense. With the myriad of talented QBs projected to go in the second round in the upcoming draft, having multiple picks in that round could solve the Raiders’ issues. Therefore, I find it more likely that Carr is traded than not. Although it’s very difficult to guess which team would take a shot on Carr at the moment, the Raiders should make every effort to move on from him.