How Derek Carr Signs With Saints In NFL Free Agency Impact QB Carousel | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 24: Derek Carr #4 of the Las Vegas Raiders throws a pass in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images)

Gaelen Morse/Getty Images

Free agency in the NFL doesn’t officially start for another week. But already this year’s game of musical chairs has begun at the most important position in football – and one chair has been filled.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the Saints inked Derek Carr to a four-year, $150 million contract, including $100 million in full guarantees. The Saints have been courting Carr since before the Raiders released him in February, and with the 31-year-old now, they might be the preseason favorite in the NFC South with a lot of uncertainty under center. There will be some tough financial decisions to make—the Saints are $24.6 million over the 2023 cap, per Over the Cap. It looks like they’ve already made one, as the team is expected to release Jameis Winston.

For Carr, it’s a reunion with head coach Dennis Allen, who was with the Raiders when Carr was drafted in 2014. In October, Carr told reporters before the Raiders’ game with the Saints that he and still at Allen.

“[Allen] and I have a great relationship to this day,” Carr said. “And I’ve still talked to him and stuff like that — obviously not this week and all that stuff — but we’re always in touch. We were always close.”

This is a sign that shapes the balance of power in the NFC South. But his influence goes far beyond that divide. The Saints were hardly the only team looking to upgrade under centre, and with Carr off the table there is one less option available.

That increases the pressure to take a seat before the music stops.

Panic Time in New York?

Carr has been linked to the Jets quite a bit since his release. In fact, as of Sunday there were reports that he was leaning toward signing with New York. That’s no surprise — the Jets have been linked at one time or another to nearly every free agent quarterback with a pulse.

Now that Carr is in New Orleans, the focus in New York has turned to landing one player—one pick.

At this point, it could be Aaron Rodgers or bust in the Big Apple.

Rodgers is still under contract in Green Bay, and has yet to say if he plans to play again. Or if he wants to play in Titletown or elsewhere. But while appearing on ESPN’s Sports centre On Friday, Adam Schefter said the tea leaves are pointing to Rodgers’ days in Green Bay being over.

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 08: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers arrives before a game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on January 08, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

“My sense is that there are more and more signs of him leaving Green Bay,” Schefter said, via WFAN. “And I think in the end, my sense is that ultimately it will come down to whether he wants to play elsewhere, which would be in fact the New York Jets, or whether he wants to retire. To me, those are the two most logical options. and the two most likely scenarios here. But again, we haven’t heard from Aaron Rodgers himself.”

Now, Rodgers’ desire to play in New York isn’t the only obstacle here. A pick-up package that Green Bay is willing to accept for Rodgers will have to be worked out. There’s also the issue of the nearly $60 million in guaranteed money Rodgers is owed in 2023 alone — an amount Jets owner Woody Johnson is unwilling to pay, according to The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt.

But with no Carr to fall back on, the pressure to trade Rodgers has intensified — in part because the other backup option has its own suitors among veteran free agents.

Did Jimmy G go to Sin City?

The Jets have also been linked to Jimmy Garoppolo, but again that’s not surprising – given the desperation for an upgrade under a center in New York, the Jets have been linked to everyone, as it were.

However, New York won’t be the only team interested in Garoppolo. Per ESPN’s Dan Graziano, if the Raiders can’t find their way into the Aaron Rodgers sweepstakes, Garoppolo could be the team’s Plan B.

“The Las Vegas Raiders remain a team to watch in Aaron Rodgers’ sweepstakes, whenever they start,” Graziano said, via Niner Nation’s Kyle Posey. “Coach Josh McDaniels has been a longtime fan of his, and Rodgers would be the best possible addition at quarterback if the Raiders and McDaniels want to win in the 2023 season.

“If they can’t get him, many people in Indianapolis this week expect McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler to pursue free agent quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who they know from his time in New England early in his career. There’s also some talk McDaniels might try to get Mac Jones from the Patriots, although it’s unlikely New England would consider moving the 2021 first-round pick.”

Of course, just like with Rodgers, the problem with teams like the Raiders and Jets is that they are hardly the only teams that could play for Garoppolo. The Houston Texans are expected to draft a second overall quarterback in 2023, but could be looking for a “bridge” starter. The Washington Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have undeclared youngsters atop the depth chart. The Carolina Panthers have been looking to upgrade at quarterback for years.

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 04: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers attempts a pass in the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Levi's Stadium on December 04, 2022 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

There are just too many staff and too many chairs. Someone will be left sifting through the likes of Carson Wentz, Jacoby Brissett and Baker Mayfield trying to convince themselves that those draft picks can still be viable NFL starters.

However, there is one other potential option – one that could be even more of a game-changer than Rodgers.

Could Lamar Jackson leave Baltimore?

The deadline to apply the franchise tag to free agents is Tuesday. And if a long-term, last-minute deal isn’t reached, it looks like three quarterbacks will be tagged—Daniel Jones of the Giants, Geno Smith of the Seahawks and Lamar Jackson of the Ravens.

That part is not surprising. But the latest news from Baltimore is exciting — and a development that could completely reshape the free agent dynamic at quarterback. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Ravens are considering applying the non-exclusive franchise tag to Jackson.

“Baltimore had a challenging time negotiating with Jackson, so this allows him to shop his own services and make an offer to the Ravens, eliminating the guesswork and haggling for guaranteed money,” wrote he. “The tag should also fall somewhere around $32 million, well below the projected $45 million for the exclusive franchise tag. And shifting the work to Jackson and other teams to Baltimore helps maintain neutrality in any breakup possible.”

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 04: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens takes the line before the game against the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium on December 04, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

G Fiume/Getty Images

To say this is a big gamble for the Ravens is an understatement. The big sticking point between player and team is guaranteed money – Jackson is reportedly seeking a contract similar to what the Cleveland Browns gave Deshaun Watson. Given their recent injury history, it’s understandable that the Ravens might be reluctant to do so.

But just because the Ravens are reluctant to comply with Jackson’s demands doesn’t mean other teams will. All it takes is one team desperate for a franchise quarterback (like the Panthers) to give Jackson what he wants. At that point, the Ravens would have two options.

The first is to match the offer for a quarterback they understand that offer was not worth to let him test the market first.

The second is to let him walk, getting two first-round picks in return. That may sound like a lot, but considering what the Texans got for Watson, two hundred is an impressive feat for a 26-year-old former MVP.

If Jackson tests the market, there will be suitors — possibly every team listed in this column and some teams that aren’t. And while Carr could join the Saints starting the spinning quarterback carousel, it’s Rodgers and Jackson who could kick it into high gear.

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