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Colts Speculated as Potential Early Offseason Trade Suitor for Raiders QB Derek Carr

The Colts are expected to be in the middle of the quarterback carousel rumors this offseason—as the franchise seeks out possible upgrades.

Las Vegas Raiders v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Indianapolis Colts could be among the serious trade suitors for Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr—should he and the only NFL organization he’s ever known elect to finally part ways this offseason:

“It could take this a couple of different ways,” Rapoport reported on Wentz this past weekend. “Perhaps they do an extension. If it does not go well, if he decides he does not want to stay, he’s expected to draw significant interest in the trade world. A couple of teams to keep an eye on: the Houston Texans, the New Orleans Saints, perhaps, the Colts, if they move on from Carson Wentz.”

For what it’s worth, the Colts reportedly checked on the availability of Carr last offseason—before eventually trading for incumbent starter Carson Wentz.

Originally a 2014 2nd round pick of the Oakland Raiders, the 30 year old Carr has potentially gone from ‘overrated’ in league circles to among one of the more ‘underrated’ starting quarterbacks in the entire NFL.

Given the challenging circumstances, the 3x NFL Pro Bowler’s coming off a rock solid season for the Raiders, in which he completed 428 of 626 throws (68.4%) for 4,804 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and a passer rating of 94.0.

Perhaps, most impressively, faced with national controversy from midseason onward and not necessarily the strongest supporting cast, Carr helped lead the Raiders to a playoff berth with a 10-7 record—including a must-win Week 17 road victory against the Colts, that Indianapolis fans won’t soon forget, contributing to the team’s epic last season collapse:

Not well regarded for throwing the deep ball earlier in his career, Carr improved in that regard, as well as other passing areas this season—and might be arguably playing some of his best career football yet:

The issue with trading for Carr is that the Colts are already without their 2022 first round pick—having traded it to the Philadelphia Eagles for Wentz last offseason, and it would be tough for the franchise to surrender any more significant draft capital for a good, but not exactly great quarterback (who’s also due for a big long-term contract extension):

Don’t get me wrong, Carr would be an upgrade over the erratic Wentz.

Unlike Wentz, Carr can consistently make routine throws, hit underneath routes, and show a willingness to check down to his running backs to gain steady, productive yardage—moving the sticks—instead of holding the football far too long, routinely trying to make the heroic throw or big play that never quite materializes.

Carr ranked 15th in total quarterback efficiency compared to Wentz being 20th on the 2021 campaign.

But at what cost does it come to the Colts?

And is his upgrade enough to justify such an investment?

Like anything else, it probably depends on cost (and he would theoretically be much cheaper than the Colts dealing for say a Russell Wilson—if that’s even realistically possible).

If the Raiders are holding out hope for a first round pick (and they could probably get it from another serious NFL suitor), then it may rule out the already draft capital depleted Colts. That being said, if the price is lesser (a 2nd round pick? Two second round picks?), maybe the Colts try to get it done?

They’d probably have a tough time convincing the Raiders though, after Indianapolis just surrendered a first round pick for the worse quarterback of the two, Wentz—that a first round pick isn’t necessary to close out the deal.

There’s also the issue of salary cap, but even with Wentz’s sizable contract, at least roughly half hitting the 2022 books, it still does work out for Indianapolis fiscally.

Carr is owed $19.9M on the last year of his current Raiders contract, which is a relative bargain for a pretty good starting NFL quarterback (but presumably wants an extension). The Colts are currently projected to have $41.2M of total available team cap space in 2022 and could save another $13.3M of Wentz’s 2022 $28.3M cap hit if he is cut before March 19th.

But in conclusion for the Colts, it’s still a bit murky.

Carr is a clear upgrade to Wentz for 2022, but is he enough of an upgrade to justify at least somewhat of another early round draft pick investment?

It might just depend on the Colts’ other realistic options and how the starting quarterback market ultimately plays out this offseason. At this point, the franchise may simply be unable to walk it back with Wentz—and another option will be needed out of mere necessity.

However, the Colts may be wise to take a ‘wait and see’ approach instead of reaching on the early, easily available low-hanging fruit—as there could be unforeseen ripple effects felt from other potential blockbuster quarterback move tidal waves.