Derek Carr signs with Saints: Veteran QB’s impact on New Orleans, division and NFC hierarchy

Derek Carr is the newest quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, announcing on Twitter that he is entering the franchise on reported four-year market value of $150 million, including $100 million in full guarantees. While not the most exciting quarterback on the market, Carr is the first signal caller to sign with a new team, thanks to his release by the Las Vegas Raiders last month.

Carr was the franchise quarterback with the Raiders, ranking second in franchise history in wins (63, behind Kenny Stabler’s 69), first in passing yards (35,222) and passing touchdowns (217). He was 63-79 in his nine seasons with the Raiders, with no playoff wins on his resume.

Although Carr has the second most losses of any quarterback after nine seasons (79), he will be going to the team where Archie Manning managed 83 losses in his first nine seasons in New Orleans (the most by any starting quarterback after the franchise’s first nine seasons in NFL history). The Saints hope to resurrect Carr’s career and make another run in the postseason as a result.

Looking to 2023, the Saints benefit greatly from having Carr on their roster. We look at all the fallout after the Saints’ big signing.

The Saints are the best team in the NFC South

Carr is the top quarterback in a division currently slated to start Sam Darnold (Carolina Panthers), Kyle Trask (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Desmond Ridder (Atlanta Falcons). That gives an edge to a team that finished 7-10 in a division that produced an 8-9 champion that lost Tom Brady to retirement.

The Saints were the only team in the NFC South with a top-10 defense in points allowed per game and yards allowed per game last season, a unit with four starters hitting free agency free but has the same philosophy that allowed it to be classified. Top 10 in points and yards allowed in each of the past three seasons.

New Orleans also has good young pass rushers in Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed and Juwan Johnson. Of course, Carr’s presence will only benefit Alvin Kamara out of the backfield as well.

Given the state of the division with Carr on board, New Orleans should aim to return to the postseason for the first time in the post-Drew Brees era.

New Orleans has the best defense Carr has played with

Carr never played with a defense ranked better than 20th in points allowed per game in his nine seasons with the Raiders. Instead, he played with defenses that ranked 20th or worse in yards per game allowed in seven of his nine seasons. Carr made the playoffs in one season that the Raiders’ defense finished in the top 15 in yards allowed (14th in 2021).

The Raiders defense did Carr no favors, who is doing a complete 180 on the Saints unit. The Saints are fourth in the NFL in points allowed per game (20.9) over the past five seasons and have not had a defense that ranked 14th in points or yards allowed over that span. New Orleans has a top-three defense in yards allowed (314.2) over the past three seasons, despite missing the playoffs twice during that stretch.

The Saints defense should set Carr up to succeed New Orleans. The pressure won’t be all on Carr to put up points every week.

Carr becomes the best quarterback in the NFC

Look at the quarterbacks in the NFC at this stage. How much would be ranked ahead of Car? Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers), Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia Eagles), Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys) and Matthew Stafford (Los Angeles Rams) are the first people who come to mind. Daniel Jones (New York Giants) and Kirk Cousins ​​(Minnesota Vikings) are also in the conversation.

Carr has owned the Raiders franchise despite their poor defense over the past nine years. The Raiders have accumulated the most points per game (26.2) since Derek Carr entered the NFL in 2014, the most of any starting quarterback after nine seasons in NFL history (minimum 100 starts).

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Based on everything Carr has had to deal with, his resume demands more respect. With the Saints’ roster built, Carr is set to be one of the best quarterbacks in the conference. It’s not with Rodgers, Hurts, Prescott, and a healthy Stafford – but certainly in the discussion with Jones and Cousins.

Carr reunites with Dennis Allen

The head coach who drafted Carr? None other than Allen, who coached Carr for just four games before being fired in his third season. Allen was the head coach who decided to start Carr in Week 1 of the 2014 season despite being a second round pick.

Although both have a small sample size combined, it’s clear that Allen’s influence convinced Carr to come to New Orleans. After two seasons, Allen finally has a quarterback he can trust to make a run at the division title and get the offense going again under offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael.

New Orleans can make a deep playoff run

With Carr as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFC and the Saints a top-10 defense, the franchise has a roster capable of making a postseason run. New Orleans can develop its young skill players and build a top-10 score with Carr at the helm, and he has that side of the ball to match the defense.

Given the state of the NFC South, the Saints should win a lot of games in the division and have the benefit of having a third-place schedule. The Saints also play in the NFC North and AFC South in 2023, setting them up for a good out-of-division schedule to pick up more wins.

Based on Carr’s performance and the way the 2023 schedule is set up, the Saints could compete for a top three seed in the conference. That would set them up for a deep playoff run in Carr’s first season at quarterback.

The Saints always seemed to be a quarterback away from winning the division, having started five quarterbacks over the past two seasons. Carr is the signal caller they believe can provide that answer.

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