Assessing Whether Derek Carr Will Make The Saints Super Bowl Contenders

New Orleans Gamble took the signature of the former Raiders quarterback, but only time will tell if the debt is delayed for his four-year deal to pay off.

Derek Carr gave a reminder of why St fans deserve the best when it tweeted a video Monday morning Tyrann Mathieu standing in center field at the Superdome.

After Mathieu released his right fist, the Superdome crowd broke into chants… Who dat? Who dat? Who would say he will beat the saints?

It’s the kind of video that gives fans chills and makes them lose football. It was also a unique way for Carr to announce that he is ending his free agency tour and joining the Saints.

Carr will reportedly receive $100 million fully guaranteed on the four-year, $150 million deal he agreed to with the Saints, which was structured to help with their cap issues — the Saints were $18.1 million over the cap as of Monday morning, according to OvertheCap. .com.

Carr has 100 million reasons why this deal makes sense. (Among them: He got a no-trade clause, and he’ll be able to treat wide receiver Chris Olave.) But it’s hard to find reasons that make sense for New Orleans, other than two obvious ones.

Reason No. 1: Saints fans who have the best include a competitive team every year.

Reason No. 2: The Saints are now the best team in the lackluster NFC South, at least on paper.

There isn’t much behind those two reasons, although fielding a competitive team should always be enough to show interest in the quality players available. But there are different ways to stay competitive and also address a messy salary cap.

The Saints are once again slowing down the hunt by adding Carr, hoping to win the NFC South and ultimately the Super Bowl. But even with Carr, this Saints roster doesn’t look like a Super Bowl contender, and good luck making upgrades in free agency when the franchise already had to create cap space to add Carr’s new deal.


Carr was released by Las Vegas on February 14 after refusing to waive the no-trade clause in his contract.

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Sure, the NFL is unpredictable and you never know who’s going to step up — take the 2022 Eagles or the ’21 Bengals, for example. You remain competitive to be one of the five or six teams to make the playoffs after not making it the year before. But, again, there are better ways to do that.

The Saints are better with Carr, but it may not be much more than if the team had gone another way, such as signing quarterback Jacoby Brissett in a trade deal to pair with a rookie quarterback. (Tennessee’s Hooker Hendon could be available to the Saints at pick No. 29.)

But the Saints have made their decision, and GM Mickey Loomis will now have to stick with it, or create cap space by cutting some veterans and restructuring contracts to put Carr on their payroll.

The Rams are in the same position as the Saints with their cap space issues—and they, too, have said they want to stay competitive—but they’re not slowing down the hunt any longer. Los Angeles will soon release Bobby Wagner and Jalen Ramsey, Allen Robinson and Leonard Floyd will be on the trade block. The Rams are said to be willing to cut Floyd to eat $19 million in dead money this year and could take another $11 million in dead money if they manage to trade Robinson before June 1st.

The Rams are paying quality players to leave so they can have a healthy salary cap in 2024, but it’s easier to admit the debt after winning a recent Super Bowl and having Stan-Kroenke-level money.

The Saints haven’t won a Super Bowl since the 2009 season and refused to change their all-around philosophy after Drew Brees quit and Sean Payton left. The debt iceberg was coming, and yet New Orleans hasn’t turned in a different direction.

Carr will have Olave, the dynamic wide receiver coming off a breakout season in memory, but it is uncertain whether he will be running back Alvin Kamara, who is in legal trouble after a fight in Las Vegas, or wide receiver Michael Thomas, who could be on the move after another injury-riddled season.


Olave played in 15 games for the Saints in 2022, totaling 1,042 yards, 72 receptions and four touchdowns.

Stephen Lew/USA TODAY Sports

Also, Saints coach Dennis Allen could be on the hot seat after a rocky first season with the franchise. He hasn’t had much success overall in his head coaching career either, including a three-year stint in Oakland where he coached Carr as a rookie in 2014.

The Steelers and Ravens, on the other hand, can stay competitive annually because they have proven coaches in Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh, respectively.

It’s commendable that the Saints have a winning mindset and refuse to go the full tear-down route (like the Bears and Texans have in recent years). However, the approach is difficult to understand.

If the Carr signing goes wrong, the Saints could find themselves in a futile cycle of the Colts trying to start fresh with veteran quarterbacks. (Indianapolis will likely change its approach by drafting a quarterback in the first round next month.)

On one hand, the Seahawks got results from Geno Smith, and so did the Lions with Jared Goff. But both of those teams have a healthy salary cap. It’s a gamble for the Saints to add Carr and pay him $100 million over the next three years with a messy salary cap, but at least they’re aiming for a Super Bowl. It’s nice to make the playoffs and be competitive, but it’s not the final game.

Only time will tell if Saints fans are getting the best out of this full-throttle, no-holds-barred approach from the organization.

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