When it comes to an annual off-season storyline of the Raiders potentially trading quarterback Derek Carr, it’s always more about who’s coming than who’s going.
Should the former be Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson, moving Carr or most anyone in the NFL at his position is the easiest of decisions.
It’s an apples and oranges comparison, man. Night and day.
Yet I don’t think that Carr is going anywhere, that he will remain the team’s starter for an eighth straight year when the 2021 season commences. That the Raiders believe what was a solid third year under head coach Jon Gruden will be followed by an even better fourth.
In this manner, they’re more fortunate than most.
Rank all NFL quarterbacks as you choose, but you’re not discovering 10-12 better than Carr was last season.
Must be intrigued
Here’s the flip side: All but a few teams should be intrigued by the idea of adding Watson from Houston or Wilson from Seattle. Maybe it’s just a fleeting thought for some. But you should have it.
You can’t learn such elite talents — both easily Top 5 NFL quarterbacks — are potentially available via trade and not consider how such a move might transform your franchise. It would irresponsible not to.
Really. It’s true. You can, at the same time, love everything Carr offers and still acknowledge how much Watson or Wilson could elevate your team’s potential.
This isn’t an either/or argument. One has nothing to do with the other.
“Obviously, I can’t talk about anyone else’s players, so I won’t,” Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said Wednesday. “I’ll just talk about Derek. I’m going to tell you the same thing I’ve told you guys the last couple years, which is I think Derek Carr had his best year yet under Jon Gruden. I think he’s one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. We couldn’t be happier with him.”
You can feel incredibly settled at the game’s most important position and still lob a call to Houston or Seattle. If anything just to gauge how possible or downright improbable such a move might be.
Of course, as reports suggest, you might need to leave a voice mail with the Texans, not really knowing who is checking messages on a particular day. Don’t fret if it’s the janitor, because he has to be better at personnel decisions than Bill O’Brien ever was.
But this is pro sports. Everyone has a price. And, yes, you can correctly surmise those for Watson and Wilson would be exorbitant.
Management supporting Carr is hardly a new narrative. Neither is the fact that until the Raiders fix what is a woefully bad defense, it doesn’t matter much who’s standing under center. Give them Tom Brady at age 25 with the same defense and it’s more than likely they would also be 8-8.
Pound the table
Carr is plenty good enough. He threw for a career-high 4,103 yards last season with 27 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a passer rating of 101.4. Who knows how much better he might be if the other side of the ball actually stopped people?
But that doesn’t mean — whether they already have or still might consider it or believe the price too high — the Raiders shouldn’t be like most teams when it comes to two of the game’s best quarterbacks.
If you’re not at least intrigued, what’s the point of it all?
“I tell you every year, we evaluate every position, every year,” Mayock said. “I have no idea who might call me or who might not call me, so you have to do the evaluations both on your own players and every other player in the league. We do that.
“But if you’re asking me about Derek, I mean, I think Jon and I would both stand shoulder to shoulder and pound the table for Derek Carr.”
So nothing much has changed.
Unless it does.
Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.