Raiders Bench Derek Carr For Season; Carr Says Goodbye (UPDATED)

By Terrance Turner

Dec. 28, 2022 (updated Jan. 12, 2023)

The Las Vegas Raiders are benching quarterback Derek Carr. QB Jarrett Stidham will start the last two games of the season.

“We’re gonna go ahead and start Jarrett the last couple games of the season,” McDaniel said. “None of us is happy with where we’re at, but we think it’s an opportunity to evaluate a younger player who hasn’t had much time to play,” McDaniels added. “Derek was great. He understands the scenario that we’re in and the situation and is very supportive of the two young guys. He’ll do anything he can to help them.”

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Stidham will start in Carr’s place on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers and presumably in next week’s regular season finale against the Kansas City Chiefs. Carr will be inactive. The move comes after Carr’s disastrous performance on Christmas Eve against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Steelers vs Raiders

Carr started strong Saturday, leading Las Vegas on a 14-play drive after opening kickoff. He capped the drive with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Hunter Renfrow. The Raiders added a field goal late in the second quarter to take a 10-3 lead over Pittsburgh.

But things fell apart in the third quarter. Carr’s pass to tight end Foster Moreau was picked off by cornerback Austin Maulet. Later in the quarter, Carr threw his second pick. Carr’s pass intended for Renfrow was intercepted by Minkah Fitzpatrick.

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The Raiders maintained the lead through the fourth quarter. But the Steelers jumped ahead late. Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver George Pickens with 46 seconds left on a frigid, snowy night at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh.

Las Vegas had to score fast to respond. But Carr threw incomplete to wide receiver Davante Adams. And his pass intended for Renfrow was intercepted by safety Cameron Sutton. Carr threw his third interception with just 29 seconds left.

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Because of Carr’s blunder, Pittsburgh took possession. The Steelers easily ran the time off the clock and won, 13-10. Once again, the Raiders lost a game after leading virtually all the way. Now, they stand at 6-9, with their playoff hopes virtually vanished.

And most of the blame fell on Carr. “In 2022, Carr’s completed 60.8% of his passes for 3,522 yards with 24 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. His completion rate is his worse since his rookie season and a steep drop from his 68.4% rate in 2021. His 14 interceptions are the most in the league,” per Yahoo! Sports

Long-Term Future

This decision obviously raises questions about Carr’s long-term future in Las Vegas. Sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that the Raiders made this move in part to maintain Carr’s health and keep their options open this offseason, including for a potential trade. The sources did note that the option for Carr to return in 2023 is still on the table.

McDaniels says there’s no final decision yet on Carr’s future. “There’s no finality to today,” McDaniels said. “This is just a decision that we thought, after talking about it and contemplating it, that we thought would be an opportunity for us to see what we have in [Stidham.]”

But analysts and commentators say Carr’s days in Vegas are numbered. ESPN host Jason Fitz said “the Carr news basically cements the end of his time with the Raiders”. NBC Sports opined that “it seems obvious that Carr’s time with the Raiders has come to an end,” and The Athletic’s beat writer Jarran Reed tweeted today that “The Raiders wouldn’t do this if they were going to bring Carr back next year. His time in the Silver and Black is almost certainly over.”

Furthermore, AP Sports writer Josh Dubow says Carr’s game-sealing interception might be his last pass as a Raider:

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Player Reactions

Tonight, Raiders players met the media to express their reactions to Carr’s benching. Because of their history, Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams is especially notable. Adams and Carr played two seasons together at Fresno State. And when the Packers traded Adams to Vegas in March, it reunited him with his college quarterback.

Adams wasn’t thrilled. “Obviously, I don’t think anybody was excited about it in here,” he said. Adams called Carr “one of my really good friends, and the reason I came here in the first place. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.”

Adams added: “Obviously, I support my guy, [but] we gotta finish the season the best we can, all things considered, at this point.”

Raiders tight end Darren Waller accepted the news impassively. A reporter asked him about his reaction. “It’s a reaction where you just kinda gotta take emotions out of it and realize that the only productive thing to do would be to support Jarrett, going forward,” Waller said. “Guys are excited about him being able to get an opportunity. So we’re going to rally around him, let him know that we believe in him.”

JUST IN: NFL reporter Ian Rapoport says that Carr and the Raiders agreed that he would step away from the team to “avoid the obvious distractions.” As a result, Carr won’t practice and will be listed as not-injury related.

Saying Goodbye

Today, Derek Carr is saying goodbye.

“Raider Nation: It breaks my heart I didn’t get an opportunity to say goodbye in person,” Carr wrote today in a lengthy social media post.

“We certainly have been on a roller coaster in our 9 years together. From the bottom of my heart, I am so grateful and appreciative of the years of support you gave to my family and me. We had our share of both heart breaking moments and thrilling game winning drives, and it always felt like you were there next to me.

“It’s especially hard to say goodbye because I can honestly say that I gave you everything I had, every single day, in season, and in the off season. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but I hope that I was able to leave you with more than a few great memories as Raider fans.”

“Thank you to the city of Oakland for taking us in. Thank you to the city of Las Vegas for to allowing us to proudly call you home,” Carr wrote. He also thanked the organization, his teammates, coaches, staff and the fans — Raider Nation.

Switching Teams

Carr said in 2021 that he would “probably quit football if I had to play for somebody else. I am a Raider for my entire life. I’m going to root for one team for the rest of my life — it’s the Raiders.”

“I once said that if I’m not a Raider I would rather be at home and I meant that,” Carr wrote today, “but I never envisioned it ending this way. The fire burning inside me to win a championship still rages. A fire no man can extinguish, only God. So I look forward to a new city and a new team,” he said.

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