Derek Carr and the New Orleans Saints: Potential for New-Look NOLA
After much speculation on his landing spot, Derek Carr inks a four-year, $150 million contract to go play for the New Orleans Saints. The former Las Vegas Raider stars in one of the first major moves in the offseason to kick off an ever-complex quarterback market.
Carr moving to NOLA has come with many mixed reviews after leading Las Vegas to a 6-9 record as a starter in 2022. Some see it as an excellent move for the Saints, who now look like the clear-cut favorites in the NFC South – especially after Tom Brady's retirement – but others question Carr's ability to lead the Saints to anything further than mediocrity.
With New Orleans having a great deal of controversy in players like running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Michael Thomas, the starting weapons on their offense going into 2023 are unclear. Still, the Saints have a strong core of talent and a winning culture that provide great potential for the Fresno State alum.
The main criticism of Carr has revolved around the weapons he had with the Raiders and the lack of production – and wins – for a team that seemed ready to compete after a playoff berth the year prior. While it is a reasonable criticism, there is more to the story for his struggles.
The three-time Pro Bowler was the leader for Las Vegas through their hectic last two seasons, losing head coach Jon Gruden in 2021, drama with the Henry Ruggs incident that same year, and struggles under new head coach Josh McDaniels. Although he was surrounded by talents like Davante Adams, Darren Waller, and Josh Jacobs, the instability of the franchise, and the lack of head coaching success of McDaniels needs to be accounted for when judging his performance.
Carr also has yet to have much support from his defense basically since he's been in the league. He sports a 63-79 career record but has flashed his ability to win, peaking at 12-3 before an unfortunate season-ending injury in 2016. The Raiders, since that season, have not averaged less than 23.3 points allowed per game, those numbers shooting up to 29.2 and 29.9 in 2018 and 2020, respectively. Yet Carr is still solely blamed for Las Vegas' lack of success.
New Orleans offers a more stable look for #4 and his talents. For one, the Saints have not allowed more than 22.1 PPG since 2016, offering Carr some much-needed support from his defense that he has never had in his career. A change of scenery and reunion with Dennis Allen also offers the nine-year veteran a better system to function in. The Saints ended their season with a 7-10 record despite Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston behind center throughout much of the year, and Carr is hands-down a more talented player than either.
Carr also gets to play in a dismantled NFC South after being stuck in the AFC West with the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Russell Wilson. His new division will be a potential cakewalk to becoming the division champ and hosting a playoff game.
For his career, Carr has thrown for 35,222 yards on 64.6% completion, passing for 217 touchdowns to 99 interceptions. The 31-year-old has also showcased his ability to improvise with his legs, rushing for 845 yards and six touchdowns in his nine seasons in the league.
In his first year in a new system on a new team, it is impossible to tell how the project will work.
The world saw Wilson's fall from grace last season despite sky-high expectations, and it would not be unheard of for Carr to suffer the same, but there is potential for greatness with New Orleans. He is only 31 years old and has a lot in the tank. Don't be surprised to see Carr and the Saints make noise in the 2023-2024 season.