For a fairly brief moment in 2017, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr held the title of highest-paid player in the NFL. Carr now has two years left on his $25 million per year deal — and he’s a full $20 million per year behind the top of the market.
In a recent interview with Vic Tafur of TheAthletic.com, Carr was asked whether he’s concerned about his contract status.
“Not at all,” Carr said. “I know that coach [Jon] Gruden, [General Manager Mike] Mayock and my agent have talked about those things and they have a plan. Obviously, I don’t share anything like that. And I have told my agent, ‘Honestly, whether it’s now or next year, or whenever they want to do it, I really don’t care.’ I want to win the Super Bowl. That’s why I signed to stay here. That’s why, if I sign again, it’s to stay here. Because I want to win here.
“They have talked about those things and they will continue to talk about those things, and that relationship has been great and healthy. But I am in a place now where I am 30 years old, Year Eight, where I . . . in the nicest way I can say this, I just don’t care about that stuff. I have been the highest-paid player. What did that get me? Nothing. . . . I don’t have a Super Bowl ring. You want to be paid what you’re worth and you want to be paid in a respected way, but I don’t need to be the highest-paid player again. I don’t need all that. I don’t care to do that again, man. I just want a good team around me. They all know that and that’s what they’re working on, that’s what they have been talking about — how to do that in the best way. I know where I am with the organization. I know where I am at with Gru. That stuff will take care of itself. I am not worried about it.”
It’s good that Carr doesn’t want to be the highest-paid player in the NFL again, because that’s never happening again. His temporary moment came during a cycle when the next competent quarterback up for a new contract became the marker leader, starting with Andrew Luck and continuing with Carr before quickly moving to Matthew Stafford then Jimmy Garoppolo then Kirk Cousins then Matt Ryan. In less than a year from the moment Carr signed, the top of the market moved from $25 million to $30 million.
Carr won’t be catching Patrick Mahomes or Dak Prescott or any of the young guys who may soon reset the market, or come close to it. For Carr (like for many other quarterbacks), the real question is whether the Raiders remain comfortable with “good enough” or whether they will decide to try to get a top-five or top-10 player.
Carr isn’t a top-10 quarterback. (He’s close, but he’s not there.) He’s definitely not a top-five guy and never will be. Unless the Raiders can put the team around him that allows it to thrive despite the fact that he’s not one of the best in the game, at some point they’ll have to decide whether to upgrade at the most important position in the game.