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Carr confirmed Thursday via Twitter that he signed an extension:
Derek Carr @derekcarrqb
Now it’s done 😂! From the jump I’ve wanted to be a Raider 4 life. One step closer to that! Blessed!!! Business done! Let’s just play now!!!
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Carr and the Raiders agreed to terms on a five-year extension worth $125 million on Thursday, which would make him the highest-paid player in league history.
The news comes as little surprise. With the exception of the Cleveland Browns, no other NFL team has struggled more than the Raiders to find a franchise QB. Since Rich Gannon’s Pro Bowl season in 2002, 17 quarterbacks started at least one game for Oakland prior to the team selecting Carr in the 2014 draft, per Pro-Football-Reference.com.
In Carr, the Raiders have seemingly found the answer to their prayers. The third-year passer wasn’t an overnight success, but he has improved with each season in the NFL. He finished with 3,937 yards, 28 touchdowns and six interceptions in 2016.
Carr had been building an MVP campaign before suffering a broken fibula in Oakland’s Week 16 win over the Indianapolis Colts. Without Carr, the Raiders also stood little chance against the Houston Texans in the AFC Wild Card Round. Connor Cook went 18-of-45 for 161 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in the 27-14 defeat.
Still, Carr’s injury and the team’s underwhelming finish to the season didn’t put much of a damper on the year as a whole and the progress Carr made.
In October, ESPN’s Mike Greenberg tweeted he’s the most promising young QB in the league:
Mike Greenberg @Espngreeny
Honestly: Name the young quarterback you would rather have than Derek Carr. There isn’t one. #Raiders
Still, there’s always the chance Carr’s career doesn’t pan out as expected. Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco all received hefty extensions in recent years, and none of the three has arguably lived up to his contract in terms of on-field returns.
Tying up a young quarterback on a long-term contract can also carry significant salary cap implications.
Khalil Mack, Reggie Nelson and Donald Penn are among the notable Raiders players set to hit free agency in 2018, while the contracts of Amari Cooper, Jamize Olawale and Mario Edwards expire the following year.
General manager Reggie McKenzie will almost certainly re-sign Mack and Cooper sooner or later. Carr’s extension will inevitably hurt the team’s financial flexibility, though, so McKenzie will have to make difficult decisions about which key players are more expendable for Oakland.
Despite all of the potential issues it will cause down the road, re-signing Carr was a no-brainer for the Raiders. It’s increasingly hard to find a starting-caliber quarterback outside of the NFL draft, so Oakland had little choice but to commit long term to Carr.
Carr has certainly earned himself a hefty raise as well. It’s not too early to begin talking about the 25-year-old as one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. Pro Football Focus grades him No. 6 (87.0) at the position, while he’s seventh-highest in DYAR (defense-adjusted yards above replacement) among qualified QBs on Football Outsiders.
For the first time in a long time, the Raiders have a bright future ahead, and Carr is a big reason why. Keeping him on board for the next five years continues the momentum the franchise started building in 2016.