The Raiders have never seen quarterback Derek Carr play better. Carr has delivered his best two NFL seasons playing under offensive-minded coach Jon Gruden. Carr finished strong in Oakland and has carried that over to consistent, strong play in Las Vegas.
Carr, who turns 30 in March, has held off notions of the Raiders replacing him with a high draft pick. But as well as Carr has played with his efficiency and throwing the ball better downfield, the Raiders (7-6) still could miss the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year with him at the helm, as he still can have bad games at the least opportune times.
Here’s a look at Carr’s current lucrative deal with the Raiders and how that could come into play for the potential of them moving on from him soon:
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Derek Carr contract details
The Raiders invested heavily in Carr, a second-round pick in 2014, for his second contract signed in June 2017. Carr got a five-year, $125 million extension with $70 million guaranteed and a $12.5 million signing bonus. At the time, in terms of average annual salary ($25 million), Carr became the highest-paid QB in the league.
In a little more than three years, Carr’s average has dropped him to tied for No. 14 with Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers, just behind Jimmy Garoppolo and Matthew Stafford. Carr is under contract through 2022, before he turns 32.
Carr’s base salary has dropped to $18.9 million in 2020. He will make $19.525 million in 2021 and $19.77 million in 2022.
What is Derek Carr’s salary cap hit?
Carr is costing the Raiders a reasonable $21.5 million against the cap in 2020. That goes up to $22.125 million next year and $19.77 million the following year, matching his base salary in 2022.
The Raiders rewarded Carr then for helping them get into the playoffs as a young QB. In doing so, they got a relative bargain in relation to his improvement and present play. When looking at the veteran market, the Raiders are getting a better return on investment than most teams.
When can the Raiders get out of Derek Carr’s contract?
Las Vegas would have no problems separating from Carr before the 2021 season if it so chooses. The Raiders can either trade or release Carr when the new league year starts in March for a substantial cap savings of $19.625 million while eating only $2.5 million in dead money.
If the Raiders decide to roll with Carr again in 2021, then they would be off the hook for any more dead money and save $19.877 million by not bringing him back in 2022.
For now, based on the current salary-cap team projections, the Raiders would be rather strapped in 2021 and need to make some moves to clear some space. That puts pressure on Carr to finish well with only a playoff trip guaranteeing his future in Las Vegas.