What Derek Carr’s Free Agency Means for the Bears

Following a disappointing season, longtime Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was released Tuesday afternoon. What will Carr’s market look like in a QB-needy offseason, and how will his availability impact the Chicago Bears?

The Raiders’ relationship with Derek Carr soured quickly this season. Just a year ago, Carr was seen as the face of the franchise after his leadership helped the team navigate the sudden and tumultuous departure of then-head coach Jon Gruden. However, despite trading for star receiver Davante Adams, the Raiders struggled on offense this season. While Carr’s numbers weren’t particularly terrible, head coach Josh McDaniels saw it fit to bench the nine-year starter for Jarrett Stidham in late December. Carr stepped away from the team following his benching, and once the offseason started, the Raiders began sending out feelers for potential trades. But on Sunday, Carr informed the team that he would be exercising the no-trade clause in his contract, barring any deal from coming to fruition. The saga finally ended in Carr’s release, which will allow him to sign with whatever team he desires as soon as possible.

In an offseason where teams across the league are desperate for quality quarterback play, Carr should have no shortage of suitors. The New Orleans Saints reportedly had a deal in place to acquire Carr before he shot down the idea of a trade. Plenty of other teams that desire a solid veteran starter should also be in contention for his services.

With one more quarterback attainable in free agency, could Carr’s availability negatively impact the Bears’ ability to trade down from the top pick in the draft? Long story short, not really. Generally, teams that are looking into drafting a quarterback with the top pick aren’t also examining free agent options. That seems especially true this offseason, as several teams — such as the Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers — have been mired in mediocrity because they chose to shuffle through veteran quarterback options instead of building through the draft. The teams that seem likely to sign Carr, such as the New York Jets and aforementioned Saints, were never seen as anything more than dark horse candidates for a trade-up anyway.

Barring Carr surprisingly signing with a bottom feeder team, the Bears should still have a multitude of trade candidates going into the draft, thus driving up the price of the top pick. Plenty of teams will want to secure their quarterback of the future via the draft. In addition, the Raiders, who have the seventh pick in the draft, will need to upgrade at quarterback somehow this offseason; even Jarrett Stidham is a free agent! This move puts them squarely in the mix for moving up to the top pick, giving the Bears even more options when draft day arrives.

Overall, Derek Carr’s availability may seem harmful to the Bears’ manipulation of the quarterback market, but it could actually prove beneficial as the Raiders look for a new franchise quarterback.
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