The Truth About Derek Carr’s Contract

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OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 7: Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders passes during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at O.co Coliseum on December 7, 2014 in Oakland, California. The Raiders defeated the 49ers 24-13. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

As expected, everyone lost their mind when Derek Carr signed what people were calling the NFL’s biggest contract ever. While Carr has made great strides in recent memory, he’s not the NFL’s best quarterback yet, and paying him more than everyone else seems ridiculous.

The Truth About Derek Carr’s Contract

What They’re Saying

It’s true, Derek Carr’s contract is worth more than any other contract in NFL history. At $125,000,000, his contract edges out Andrew Luck‘s by over $2,000,000. Without getting into the market value of a quarterback, it does seem absurd that Carr is making this much money for several reasons.

Firstly, he still has a losing record in the NFL, and he has yet to pass for over 4,000 yards in a season. Secondly, it could be argued that Carr’s contract will hurt the team. After all, how are the Raiders supposed to maintain a competitive roster when Carr is making more than any player in NFL history and they still have to sign the likes of Gabe Jackson, Khalil Mack, and Amari Cooper. Has Carr’s contract doomed the Raiders forever? Hardly, and here’s why.

The Truth

The truth of the matter is this, Derek Carr’s contract is just the newest feather in Reggie McKenzie‘s cap. On the surface, it’s easy to be intimidated by the big numbers. But dig just a little deeper, and the truth becomes clear.

Carr’s contract is worth $125,000,000, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to make $125,000,000. First of all, he’s only guaranteed $40,000,000. While $40,000,000 is a chunk of cheddar we’d all like in our bank accounts, it’s hardly the most a quarterback has been guaranteed.

Five quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, and Cam Newton, received more guaranteed cash than Carr. Of those five, everyone but Luck has won a Super Bowl, been named MVP, or both. At the end of the day, only 32% of Carr’s contract is actually guaranteed.

There are actually plenty of quarterbacks that make more money annually than Carr does. 15 quarterbacks are guaranteed more money annually than Carr is. Of course, averages are inconsistent. If someone has a one year deal, then that’s all the average is. However, Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins, Flacco, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Matt Stafford, Sam Bradford, Rodgers, Luck, Philip Rivers, Brock Osweiler, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan, and Newton are all guaranteed more money annually.

The Team

So since the other 31 fanbases can be satisfied, knowing Carr’s deal isn’t actually the biggest ever, it’s time to address the 32nd. After all, while many Raider fans appreciate how important Derek Carr is to the franchise, others fear he might be making too much. Well, fear not Raider Nation, because it simply isn’t true.

When you actually look at how Derek Carr will impact the salary cap over the next six years, it’s not so bad, especially when you compared to other quarterbacks around the NFL.

2017

Carr- $15,731,691
Rank- 18th, behind Flacco, Palmer, Cousins, Ryan, Stafford, Rodgers, Tannehill, Newton, Rivers, Manning, Luck, Brees, Wilson, Roethlisberger, Sam Bradford, Alex Smith, and Brock Osweiler, with Flacco making $24,550,000.

2018

Carr- $25,000,000
Rank- 2nd, behind Brees, who makes $28,000,000.

2019

Carr- $21,600,000
Rank- 10th, behind Luck, Brees, Flacco, Wilson, Manning, Newton, Roethlisberger, Brady, and Rivers, with Luck making $27,525,000.

2020

Carr- $22,225,000
Rank- 4th, behind Luck, Flacco, and Brees, with Luck making $28,400,000.

2021

Carr- $22,225,000
Rank- 2nd, behind Flacco, who makes $24,250,000.

2022

Carr- $19,725,000
Rank- 1st… Though as of writing this, he’s the only quarterback in football signed through 2022. And that’s the secret. Because that’s of writing this. Before this season starts, Kirk Cousins, Matt Stafford, and Matt Ryan will all likely get contracts, and they’ll all be bigger than Carr’s.

The Consequences

Many uninformed hacks have compared Carr’s contract to the ones given to Flacco and Colin Kaepernick, saying that if Carr doesn’t pan out, the Raiders have doomed themselves for nothing. If Carr never develops, the Raiders will have committed their entire cap to a lame duck quarterback.

Except that’s not true either. After the 2018 season, the Raiders could release Carr and save a boatload of money. Without adding more than $10,000,000 in dead money, the Raiders could save anywhere from $15,100,000 to $20,000,000 in cash. The Raiders are really only tied to Carr for the next two seasons.

Khalil Mack will want to get paid, but he won’t make quarterback money. He’ll likely make around what Von Miller made, which is around $17 or $18 million a year. Considering that the Raiders are a couple of years away from a move to Las Vegas, don’t be surprised if his contract is also back-loaded.

At the end of the day, this much is clear. Somehow, someway, the Oakland Raiders found a way to keep their quarterback, pay him well, and keep the future of the Raiders intact. Despite the fact that they just made a record-setting deal, the Raiders brass has somehow constructed a contract that keeps everyone happy. The Oakland Raiders are lucky to have Derek Carr. They are lucky to have Khalil Mack. But Reggie McKenzie? The best executive in football is a gift that just keeps on giving.

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