Derek Carr won’t be joining the AFC East.
NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo on Monday reported the veteran quarterback was “closing in” on a contract with the Saints. Once that deal is finalized, he’ll replace Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston as the starter in New Orleans.
Carr’s decision to sign with the NFC club will have ramifications for the New England Patriots — and not just because they’re scheduled to host the Saints during the 2023 season.
Since he was released by his former team, the Las Vegas Raiders, Carr was allowed to visit and negotiate with prospective suitors before the official start of NFL free agency. The Saints were the first team to bring him in for a meeting. The second: one of New England’s division rivals, the New York Jets.
Carr met with the QB-needy Jets ahead of last week’s NFL Scouting Combine and subsequently received a rave review from general manager Joe Douglas, who called it a “fantastic visit.”
“I can say that he left a strong impression with everybody,” Douglas said last Tuesday in his combine news conference.
Ditto for Jets head coach Robert Saleh, who told reporters Carr has “an elite, elite mental makeup with regards to football IQ” and “tremendous accuracy and arm strength.”
Carr is not an elite-level NFL quarterback — if he were, Josh McDaniels’ Raiders wouldn’t have released him — but he’s a solid, experienced veteran who would have been an upgrade over what New York received from the position this season.
The 2022 Jets employed one of the NFL’s worst starting signal-callers in Zach Wilson and still finished just two games out of a playoff spot. With the talent they have on defense and elsewhere on offense, even passable QB play likely would have gotten them into the postseason.
Carr was rumored to be New York’s second choice this offseason behind Aaron Rodgers, and a report Sunday suggested he had a “slight lean” toward the Jets and away from teams like the Saints and Carolina Panthers. That evidently changed over the ensuing 24 hours.
New Orleans landing Carr removes one starting-caliber option from the Jets’ QB search.
Rodgers still is on the board, but he has yet to announce whether he plans to retire, stay in Green Bay or accept the trade that would be necessary to send him to New York. Jimmy Garoppolo is another possibility, and he has a prior connection to Saleh from their time together in San Francisco, but he also could receive interest from McDaniels and Las Vegas. A blockbuster trade for Lamar Jackson remains possible, as well.
The Jets held the Patriots to one total offensive touchdown across their two meetings this season but lost both, thanks in large part to dreadful QB play by Wilson. The 2021 second overall pick threw three interceptions in a 22-17 loss at MetLife Stadium, then went 9-for-22 for 77 yards in a 10-3 defeat at Gillette Stadium.
Wilson’s refusal to accept responsibility after the latter sparked a firestorm in the Jets’ locker room and got him benched. He started just two of New York’s final seven games, seeing action only when an injury sidelined popular backup Mike White.