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Tafur: In Derek Carr’s ultimate prove-it year, Raiders QB fell short in Mark Davis’ eyes

I knew this was the end for Derek Carr and the Raiders.

When the quarterback was booed by home fans in the Raiders’ final game in Oakland in 2019…

When the Raiders gave him a “long term” extension in April, it came with a small signing bonus and a unique opt-out clause…

And in November, when Kerr broke down in the post-game press conference, his frustration with the course of the season and his nine years here was overcome…

On Wednesday, the Raiders benched Kerr for the final two games of the season, which begin Sunday against the 49ers. If Kerr is injured in the next two weeks, they don’t want to get caught in the guaranteed $32.9 million hook for next season (and another $7.5 million in 2024).

Now you know everything you need to know about the team’s feelings for Carr. Coach Josh McDaniels said he wanted a chance to evaluate backup Jarrett Stidham (who also was with the Patriots). That’s as plausible as some national reports that the Raiders hadn’t made a decision about Kerr next season and wanted to keep him healthy for a potential trade.

In fact, Kerr was a marked man for a while – and every time a new rumor emerged, he would joke that he was supposed to be traded years ago.

Deeper

Reed: Derek Carr depressed, but pressure on Raiders’ brass

Owner Mark Davis has actually been lukewarm with Kerr for some time, and the quarterback has overcome all the disastrous draft picks, free agency deals, and coaches Davis has hired and fired since 2014. Ziegler and McDaniels called on them in January to continue their contract with Carr.

In the course of that interview, Ziegler and McDaniels had to be a little surprised to hear about Carr. Davis turned the two-week search over to former vice president of player personnel Ken Herlock. Herlock, now 81, is not one to mince words. Other general managers and potential coaches were shocked by Raiders officials’ desperation about Kerr in the interview room, according to people familiar with the discussions.

After all, Kerr has been the face of the organization for nine years, never said a bad word despite all of the franchise’s embarrassing moments, was great in the community, and was pretty good on the field. With 217 down passes, he became the first QB in Raiders history to reach 30,000 passing yards and only the fifth player in NFL history to reach 30,000 or more yards in his first eight seasons.

However, he did not win. The Raiders have his two winning seasons and his two playoff appearances in his nine years at Kerr, and he missed his one of those playoff games (2016) with a broken leg. did. Kerr’s leadership was a big reason the Raiders overcame some horrific off-field incidents last year, and coach Jon Gruden resigned over racist, homophobic and misogynistic emails. and made the playoffs, but Davis lingered on losing to the Bengals in the playoffs. car’s decision on the last drive).


Derek Carr’s only playoff game as a Raider was a loss to the Bengals in the Wild Card Round last year. (Kareem Elghazal/USA Today)

Questions have always been raised about Kerr’s inner-pocket toughness — ironically, he’s one of the most durable quarterbacks in the league, missing just three games in nine seasons. No. Ultimately a big supporter, Davis never was.

The Raiders flirted with Tom Brady in the 2020 offseason, but Gruden decided Brady was getting too old. They eventually signed Marcus Mariota to push Kerr, who buried him.

Kerr did better and better under Gruden, becoming an even more aggressive scrambler and extending his play in the pocket, with the Raiders starting 3–0 in 2021. 1 Receiver Henry Rags III was released after a car accident that killed a woman and her dog and charged him with multiple felony charges of DUI and reckless driving, resulting in death and bodily harm.

The Raiders secured a place in the playoffs, but Davis decided not to retain interim coach Rich Visatcha, despite his success and popularity with the players. He took the Patriots model and hired Bill Belichick’s protégés Ziegler and McDaniels. Davis then had Kerr call him and they decided not only to extend his contract, but also a longtime All-Pro, one of Kerr’s best friends and a former teammate at Fresno State University. was replaced by receiver Davante Adams.

However, the Raiders fell short, becoming the first team in NFL history to blow five double-digit halftime leads. It was clear that McDaniels and Carr were out of sync. Kerr claimed earlier in the season that he was just trying to do exactly what McDaniels wanted. Kerr’s 60.8 completion percentage and 86.3 passer rating are his lowest since his rookie season, while his 7.0 yards per attempt and 235 yards per game are his lowest since 2017, of which McDaniels owns some. but he’s not going anywhere.

Ziegler and McDaniels met over two nights to discuss Carr’s situation. My reading is that on Tuesday night they were leaning towards keeping Carr as a starter. After all, they preach the importance of winning, and technically they’re still alive for the playoffs (although they could be eliminated before they hit the field on Sunday). Kerr is the captain of the team and is highly respected by his teammates in the locker room. I think that’s when Davis stepped in and decided it was time for a change.

what happened now?

Kerr has missed his fourth and fifth game in nine years, the first not through injury. He never practices with the team and does not participate in any of his final two games to avoid distracting him.

The $40.4 million total for 2023 and 2024 will be fully guaranteed on February 15, three days after the Super Bowl, so the Raiders can cut Kerr after the season ends. But the more likely scenario is that both sides agree to trade to another team. Kerr was given a no-deal clause and had to approve the counterparty when accepting a deal with a one-year exit plan.

“We’ll see how this goes. I’m not going to sit here and predict the future,” McDaniels said Wednesday of Kerr’s future. There are many things.”

Kerr once said he would retire before he could play for another team, and he certainly could — as he becomes a pastor, family man, and golfer, he’s looking forward to his future. It’s the rare NFL player planning — I don’t think it will happen. He is very competitive and wants to prove the Raiders have made a mistake.

His friend Adams came to the Raiders to hang out with Carr and get closer to his family. Due to Aaron Rodgers’ precarious condition, he left the Packers. And now he was here after Wednesday’s practice, staring at an empty locker in Carr.

“I don’t think anyone here was excited, obviously,” Adams told reporters. “He’s one of my really good friends and the reason I came here in the first place. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here now.

“I think everyone knows how I feel about him. No, I have to support him and finish this season in the best possible way.”

(Top photo: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)