Derek Carr Tour Continues In Indianapolis And Early Pecking Order Seems To Be Taking Shape

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INDIANAPOLIS — Tuesday was kind of busy for Derek Carr because first he met with the New Orleans Saints (again) and then met with the Carolina Panthers after talking with team officials on the phone earlier. And, yes, there is a second meeting with the Jets planned as well for this week.

So the Carr free agency tour is as promised: A fact-gathering exercise that seems thorough in every way.

Carr, approached by multiple reporters this week has declined to discuss his feelings or the meetings. But the teams he’s talking to are not being coy about the process and what they want to gain from it.

Derek Carr
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – DECEMBER 24: Derek Carr #4 of the Las Vegas Raiders throws a pass in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images)

Here’s the breakdown for Carr

It seems as if the Jets are ready to move forward with Carr if he says he’d like to move forward with them, assuming Aaron Rodgers isn’t in play.

If Rodgers retires or plays for the Green Bay Packers, the Jets will be desperate for Carr. If Rodgers is available he is likely the first choice ahead of Carr.

The Saints, who for years boasted Drew Brees stability at quarterback, have had five quarterbacks start the past 34 games.

But they want to do their homework on the draft class before committing to Carr as do the Panthers, who seem to have the most latitude of the three because they can either draft a quarterback with the No. 9 overall pick, trade up to get one higher pick for a quarterback, or sign Carr if he chooses them.

The meeting with the Panthers was as others have been, which is to say predictably successful because Carr is a veteran. He knows how to carry himself and exude great leadership skills with teams.

“It’s really kind of get to know you session, what are you looking for? Here’s what we offer, this is what we’re looking for,” said Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer. “So it’s kind of a feeling out, process. You know, we’re talking, we’re not making any commitments, we’re just going down that road.

“We’re also going down the road of the draft quarterbacks as well. Because of when free agency is, right after the Columbine here, you have to go down multiple roads at the same time. And that’s really our philosophy is to explore every option out there and get all information.

“Then once we have all those answers, it’s what’s the best for the Carolina Panthers moving forward.”

That is a universal agenda.

Carr has played his nine NFL seasons for the Raiders. So he’s familiar with their way of doing things. He’s now trying to understand how things would be with his new team.

Who would be calling plays?

What would be the dynamic between the offensive coordinator, quarterback coach and quarterback?

Is the play-caller one of those coaches or the head coach?

None of it, at least with the Panthers, has risen to a discussion about money.

“Yeah, I don’t even know what that number is yet,” Fitterer said. “We haven’t gotten into that with his agent. Obviously, we have to do some things this year to get under of the cap and do some things, you know, there’s a lot of different ways we can create money. Like smart ways.

“We’re not just kicking the can down the road. We might have to do that on a couple of things, a couple of restructures. But there’s ways to create money. If you want to do something bad enough, you’ll figure out a way to do it.”

The Jets and Panthers are modestly over the cap now. New York is about $4 million over and Carolina is about $8 million over. The Saints are significantly over the cap at about $34 million over, although they believe it could work if they and Carr mutually decide they’re a fit.

It seems as if the Jets and Panthers are also good fits from an offensive staff standpoint.

Familiar face if Carr lands in N.Y.

The Jets hired former Titans offensive coordinator Todd Downing as their new passing game coordinator and he was Carr’s offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for three years with the Raiders.

The offensive coordinator in New York is Nathaniel Hackett who has no history with Carr.

The Panthers obviously have Frank Reich running the offense and he’s a former NFL quarterback, offensive coordinator and will be the play-caller. The club also hired senior assistant Jim Caldwell, who has been a head coach, an offensive coordinator and quarterback coach in his career — all successfully.

Reich and Caldwell are Christians. Carr is a Christian. There’s a comfort level there.

Reich has been on the veteran quarterback hamster wheel for years as the Colts head coach. He doesn’t want to do a one-year-and-done situation again. But Carr wouldn’t be that.

“Whatever decision we make is not what is best not just for this year but you’re looking at the horizon,” Reich said. “If you draft a guy, you’re looking at a very long term horizon. If you go free agent, if you go Derek Carr, you know, the nice thing about Derek is he’s going to be 32 years old. So, you know, that’s kind of prime quarterback years.

“So they’re still a good five-year window there.”

It’s obvious Fitterer prefers to go through the draft, if he had a perfect situation and knew he was going to get a player he covets.

“There are so many benefits to drafting and developing,” he said. “That is the right route to go. We’ll see if we can get in a position where we can get one of the guys we like. Is there a guy in the second round? Can you get up in the first round?

“Those are all the things we’re exploring right now, but yes, you’re right. I don’t think it’s wrong to necessarily look at the veteran route if we can’t do that, but, um, an ideal world, you do want to draft.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

One Comment

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  1. “Carr is a veteran. He knows how to carry himself and exude great leadership skills with teams.”

    Indeed, a nine year veteran with zero division titles and zero playoff wins who has lost over 55% of his starts.

    But, hey, he ‘exudes great leadership skills’

    Like saying your blind date has ‘a nice personality.’

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