Part of the Raiders and Derek Carr finding the sweet spot to facilitate a contract extension required that Carr work with the club to maintain salary cap flexibility. The goal being to build and maintain a high level team around him.
From Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels’ perspective, it was apparent from the early stages of negotiations that Carr was open to doing just that.
The result was the three-year, $121.5 million contract extension Carr signed on Wednesday that leaves the Raiders on solid ground.
“What he did, and what we were willing to come to terms on, I think shows you he is significantly invested in this place, this organization, and helping us in anyway that he can to try to win,” McDaniels said Wednesday.
That includes taking only a small pay raise in 2022 from $21.5 million to $25 million — the only guaranteed-at-signing portion of the deal — and structuring the deal in such a way that, on paper at least, the Raiders will have the option to move on from him after just one season.
McDaniels, though, was pretty clear the plan is for Carr to be with the Raiders through the length of the deal.
“I don’t think there’s anything behind curtain number two here,” McDaniels said. “Whenever you go into a commitment like this, the plan is for it to work out well for both sides and for everybody to be happy and believe that it’s the right thing for your team. There’s no other intent on any of this other than to try to put the best team on the field for the Raiders, and Derek was obviously excited to try and do that as well.”
That is compatible with the sentiment being expressed from both sides. The idea being that there is a big-picture plan that covers at least the next three years and enables Carr to play alongside new teammates Davante Adams and Chandler Jones while also creating the flexibility to keep Maxx Crosby, Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller and others as well.
If, as McDaniels hopes, everything works out, Carr will earn $25 million in 2022 and $33 million in 2023. A total of $40.5 million of the new deal becomes fully guaranteed shortly after this season’s Super Bowl.
In some ways that is reflective of the philosophy McDaniels and Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler carried with them to the Raiders from New England, where for years Tom Brady took less than market value to enable the Patriots to build and maintain around him.
“I just think it’s important, when you’re trying to build a team, which is what we’re trying to do, that you’re aware of the fact that it’s going to take 53-plus men working together to try to achieve a common goal,” McDaniels said. “How you go about trying to do that, and the flexibility you gain in trying to do it is important, and Derek understands all that.”