According to The Athletic’s Stephen Holder on the “One Percent Better” podcast (with Zak Keefer), the Indianapolis Colts are rumored to be interested in acquiring Las Vegas Raiders starting quarterback Derek Carr—should he be made available:
“I’ve heard from some people, and one thing that I heard recently,” Holder said. “Now, I’m not breaking news here, I am giving you sort of a rumor that I heard, but the source is good right, so I just can’t tell you the source. But the point is, I’ve been told to keep an eye out on Derek Carr in that situation as it relates to the Colts.”
The former 2nd round pick of the 2014 NFL Draft is coming off a 2019 season in which he threw for 4,054 passing yards, completing 361 of 513 passes (70.4%) for 21 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, and a passer rating of 100.8 in all 16 starts.
Still only 28 years old, Carr is still young enough to be considered a potential long-term answer for an NFL team, but there’s a question of whether he’s closer to the quarterback who was a potential NFL MVP candidate in 2016—when he threw for 28 touchdown passes to just 6 interceptions (before his year was cut short by a season-ending broken fibula after a hit by former Colts pass rusher Trent Cole in Week 16) or essentially the inconsistent, average to sometimes good starter that he’s been the past three seasons thereafter.
Carr figures to be an upgrade to Colts incumbent starter Jacoby Brissett regardless, but it’s a fair question of whether he’s enough of an upgrade to justify acquiring him at a big salary and for some form of “Day 2” draft pick compensation.
The 3x Pro Bowler is set to have cap hits of around $20 million for each of the next three seasons—as he’s signed through 2022 (but has no dead cap hits in 2021 and 2022 if released in those seasons respectively).
With Raiders head coach Jon Gruden always seemingly looking over Carr’s shoulder for his potential replacement (as Las Vegas has already been linked to veteran future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady), it looks like a marriage with Indianapolis is something that could be mutually enticing from the Raiders quarterback’s end as well:
Raiders' QB Derek Carr has been posting cryptic photos on Instagram of teams that will likely be in the market for a QB this offseason.— Indy SportsOne (@IndySportsOne) February 21, 2020
Today, he posted one with the Colts. pic.twitter.com/3Yr1dkYs9K
With a strong offensive line, a healthy T.Y. Hilton (as well as another potential Colts wide receiver addition), and Frank Reich calling the offensive plays, Carr could be a strong bounceback candidate with the Colts.
If there is no promise of restructuring his contract with his acquiring team, it also looks like he could essentially be a one year rental—if he performs poorly, with no salary cap ramifications if cut prematurely after the 2020 season.
While I’m not completely sold Carr will attack defenses much more downfield than Brissett would, he looks to me like he’s a better option than a 38 year old, twilight of his career Philip Rivers—all other things considered, if that’s the other potential play for the Colts.
That being said, even with Carr in the fold, I wouldn’t rule out the Colts still taking a shot at a rookie quarterback such as Utah State’s Jordan Love in this April’s NFL Draft.
Carr may have the chance to be pretty good again with a welcomed change of scenery, but he’s currently not good enough to deter Indianapolis from making such a selection on a top quarterback prospect to potentially groom behind him.
With the NFL offseason starting to heat up, this will be a situation well worth monitoring over the next few weeks—as the Colts make for an intriguing trade suitor for Carr.