Only one step remains for Derek Carr to join the upper tier of NFL quarterbacks.
He needs to get paid like one.
It probably won’t happen right away. First there’s next month’s free-agent frenzy, followed by the NFL draft in late April. But sometime this summer, ideally before the Raiders begin training camp, Carr will almost assuredly receive a new contract more commensurate with his standing.
In other words, the former Fresno State star will no longer be pro football’s biggest bargain.
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As the broken fibula that cut short an MVP-level season continues to heal, Carr remains tethered to the rookie contract he signed as the Raiders’ second-round pick in 2014.
While $5.37 million over four years sounds like a lot of money for throwing around a football, it’s chicken feed on the salary scale for NFL quarterbacks.
Twelve NFL quarterbacks have contracts with average annual value that surpasses $20 million. That’s 37.5 percent of the league’s 32 starters. Kirk Cousins, who made $19.953 million from the Redskins last season under the franchise tag, will soon become the 13th – no matter what team he plays for in 2017.
Our quarterback is going to command top dollar.
Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie, to CSN Bay Area
That means Carr steered the Raiders to 12 wins, and probably the AFC West title until the Colts’ Trent Cole pretzeled his leg, while being paid less than several backups. Including his own, Matt McGloin, who made $2.55 million.
And we all saw how that investment turned out.
Technically, the Raiders could let Carr play out the final year of his rookie deal and then franchise him in 2018. But that’s a risky path for both sides, and General Manager Reggie McKenzie has indicated during several TV and radio appearances that signing Carr to an extension will be the No. 1 offseason priority.
GM Reggie McKenzie has indicated that signing Carr to a contract extension is the Raiders’ No. 1 offseason priority.
“Our quarterback is going to command top dollar,” McKenzie said on CSN Bay Area.
Which is as it should be. There should be no question Carr, still a month shy of his 26th birthday, is a franchise quarterback. He’s exactly the type of player, person and leader every NFL team needs to be a playoff fixture and Super Bowl contender. Now he and his family will get to enjoy the financial security that comes with that.
How large a contract will Carr and his agent, Tim Younger, command? (Younger, incidentally, also represents Fresno State head coach Jeff Tedford.) A good guess, as reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter in November, will be in the neighborhood of the five-year, $123 million deal Andrew Luck received from the Colts last June.
That deal, with its AAV of $24.59 million, vaulted Luck to the top of the salary chart ahead of Drew Brees ($24.25 million), Joe Flacco ($22.1 million), Aaron Rodgers ($22 million) and Russell Wilson ($21.9 million).
12 NFL quarterbacks whose contracts’ average annual value surpasses $20 million
With the exception of Luck, who was a No. 1 overall pick, the rest of those guys have won Super Bowls. Which is something McKenzie is sure to bring up when it’s time to sit down and hammer out a deal. To which Younger can reply, good luck getting to a Super Bowl without my client anytime soon.
It’s all part of negotiations.
I’ve known Derek Carr since he was 10, when after Fresno State practices he’d throw passes to his brother’s receivers. I don’t believe in any way, shape or form he is motivated by money.
But this is one of those times when Carr needs to be selfish. When he needs to look out for himself, his family and the causes he believes in.
Unlike his brother or even teammates Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, Carr has not made bushels of money playing football.
Unlike his brother, who signed for seven years and $46.25 million as the No. 1 overall pick in 2002, or even teammates Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, who are well-compensated as high first-rounders, Carr has not yet made bushels of money playing football.
This is his opportunity to reap those rewards. It may, in fact, be his only one. As Carr learned in January, staying home when the Raiders traveled to Houston for the AFC wild-card round, nothing in the NFL is guaranteed.
During a recent radio appearance, Carr was asked by Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd if he’d consider taking a “team discount” to help the Raiders with regard to the salary cap.
I’m always a team guy, but at the same time they had three or four years of the rookie contract, too.
Derek Carr, to radio host Colin Cowherd
Carr responded by telling Cowherd he’s a team guy, which no one doubts, and that he’d be nothing if not for his teammates. He also brought up how the Raiders have, so far, gotten him at a bargain.
More telling, though, was the crux of Carr’s answer.
“I just start thinking about my family, thinking about my boys, thinking about all the people in Haiti – I have a heart for Haiti – that I could help,” he said. “I think about all the churches I’m attached to and all the people that (money) could help, and that’s what motivates me.”
Answers such as that, backed by MVP-level performance, are why Carr will be worth every penny he negotiates. It’s his turn to get paid.