When potential trading partners came up, Raiders were rarely, if ever, mentioned, and when they were, it was in passing and not in a concrete way. Until yesterday, when Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Jon Gruden and Co. were interested in acquiring the disgruntled quarterback from Texas via a three-team swap. The biggest obstacle? What it would mean for the Raiders’ current starter, Derek Carr, who just finished the best season of his relatively short career, throwing for 4,103 yards with 27 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a QB rating of 101.4.
Over the past two years, Carr has totaled 8,157 yards, 48 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and a passing score of 101.1. He has officially established himself as an NFL star. And it is this success that has made Carr a coveted commodity in a league where most teams are constantly searching for the answer to the most important question in any sport. It’s also why such a complicated deal was possible.
To get Watson to Las Vegas, the Raiders would have to collect four first-round picks to send to Texas. That’s where the third team comes in. Reportedly, the Colts, Bears, Patriots, Saints and Washington football team have all called to check on Carr’s availability. Theoretically, to take over Carr, Chicago would have to give the Raiders two first-round picks, which Las Vegas would then send to Texas with its own first-round picks in 2021 and 2022.
Of course, in a perfect world, the Bears would have gone straight to Houston to negotiate with Watson. But with the Rams taking two picks in the first round, one pick in the third round and sending Jared Goff to Detroit in exchange for Matthew Stafford, the price of Watson may be too bitter a pill for the Bears to swallow. Therefore, a trade for Carr, while expensive, makes more sense and gives Chicago more options to fill some holes in the team roster. This becomes even more important when one considers that age becomes a factor on defense.
Matthew Stafford (left), Jared Goff (right) Photos
: Getty Images
The Bears have been lacking in starting capital in recent years due to the trade of Khalil Mack. They lost their first-round picks for 2019 and 2020, as well as their third-round picks for 2020. If that were not the case, I would be the first to insist that the Bears correct their terribly bad decision to pick Trubisky over Watson/Mahomes. And since the Bears have decided to fall back on the playoffs instead of the tank, they currently have the 20th pick in the draft, at which point the best quarterback hopefuls will probably already be out of the game.
This brings us back to Carr, who despite the large number of employees has come up with red flags in the past two years, particularly, as my colleague Lucas Perfetti noted, Carr’s tendency to underperform in cold weather. He continued this trend last season when the Raiders traveled to Cleveland in Week 8. He threw for only 111 yards with a touchdown and a score of 87.3 in that Las Vegas game, which he more or less won 16-6.
However, he showed signs of a cold weather funk against the Jets in Week 13 when he rushed for 381 yards, three touchdowns and an interception with a score of 97.9 (the temperature during the game was 39 degrees). Then he had another solid performance (371/2/91.0) at Denver in Week 17. Of course, if he were to join the Bears, he would need to keep the momentum going into next season as temperatures in Chicago begin to drop toward the end of October.
However, aside from the first two series it would cost to acquire Carr, the risk is minimal due to age (30) and a contract that expires in 2022. If he doesn’t live up to expectations, they will let him go. If he continues to hit the numbers of the past two years, either extend him or apply a deductible tag that allows the team to either enter into a long-term deal or trade him in to get back the pick they gave up to get him in the first place.
It is likely that the Raiders have decided to keep their offense in the top 10 and use their picks to improve their defense. After all, many members of the Raiders organization believe they are just a few players away from taking the AFC crown from the Chiefs on defense. But if the opportunity arises to contract a player of Watson’s caliber, it’s exciting, and the Raiders are used to taking risks. I wouldn’t be surprised if they moved all their chips to the middle of the table.
If so, will the Bears turn their attention to Carr? Only the wheel of time says
I said I’m quitting. I lied.