Will the Derek Carr signing make the New Orleans Saints a contender?

NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Saints kicked off 2023 free agency by addressing their biggest need to sign former Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.

The highly anticipated signing is one of the biggest moves for Saints coach Dennis Allen entering Year 2 and reunites him with the quarterback he drafted while in the Raiders organization in 2014. Here what the move means for the Saints and their offense, and how it could. be the first domino of many to come, including what they do with quarterback Jameis Winston and wide receiver Michael Thomas.

Why did the Saints make this move?

The Saints’ offense has struggled to find its footing since quarterback Drew Brees retired after the 2020 season. The Saints dropped from the fifth-best scoring offense in 2020 to 19th over the past two years. The Saints couldn’t find the long-term answer in Winston, Taysom Hill or Andy Dalton, and they probably weren’t going to with the 29th pick of the draft in April. The Saints clearly saw an opportunity to acquire one of the best quarterbacks on the market and Carr’s familiarity with Allen helps. Now that the Saints have a quarterback, they can focus on adding offensive pieces in the draft.

Carr, who drafted and coached him before being fired as the Raiders’ four-game head coach in the 2014 season, has always had positive things to say about Allen.

“[Allen] and I still have a great relationship to this day,” Carr said before the Saints’ game against the Raiders last season. I’ve always kept in touch, we’ve always been close. I love him, I loved him to have.” — Katherine Terrell

What does this move mean for Jameis Winston?

Winston’s time with the Saints will likely come to an end. The organization has said it has played second fiddle more than once — playing Hill over Winston in 2020 when Brees was injured, going after Deshaun Watson before re-signing Winston last offseason and ultimately sticking around by Dalton during the season. Winston is owed $12.8 million in base salary in 2023, with $5.8 million guaranteed on March 19. Winston would more likely want to pursue a starting job with another organization than take a pay cut to be Carr’s backup. If Winston leaves, the Saints may try to re-sign Dalton as a backup. — Terrell

Does this move make the Saints the favorites in the NFC South?

The NFC South was a battle of mediocrity last season, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers eventually winning the division at 8-9. With quarterback Tom Brady retiring in Tampa, it feels like the division is there to build the Saints. The Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers are trying to resolve their quarterback situations and the Panthers also have a new head coach. It feels like if the defense can play like it did for most of the second half of last season, the Saints can be the team that fans were used to from 2017 to 2020. — Terrell

Why did the Raiders decide to move on from Carr?

Carr said he would “probably” retire rather than play for a team other than the Raiders, but the writing was on the wall when general manager Dave Ziegler and coach Josh McDaniels benched Carr for the final two games of the season. to make sure you don’t get hurt.

Had Carr been injured on the Raiders’ watch, Las Vegas would have been out $40 million or more for 2023, and after such an uneven season, it was only a matter of time. And Carr wanted to go out on his own terms. Carr has traditionally struggled in his first year in a new offensive system, and 2022 was no exception. His 60.8 completion percentage was his lowest since his rookie season.

His 14 interceptions last season were tied for a career high, while his 3,522 passing yards were the third lowest of his nine-year career. Remember, the Saints got their first look at Carr’s struggles last season, when he failed to cross the 50-yard line at the Superdome and ran for 101 yards completing 15 of 26 passes with an interception.

Sure, Carr holds nearly every career passing record in franchise history — 35,222 passing yards, 217 TD passes, 33 game-winning drives — but he also frustrated the team with so many checkdowns, the times that he threw the ball forward. fourth down, along with his career 36 fumbles lost. Additionally, he was just 63-79 as a starter with just two winning seasons and no playoff wins. – Paul Gutierrez

How does signing Carr early help in free agency?

The Saints are likely to re-upload Carr’s reported four-year deal. New Orleans has gone into every offseason in the past decade up against the salary cap and they have made it work by giving players deals with low first year salary cap goals that often jump significantly in the second and in the third year. They work around this by restructuring the contract at that point, often by converting the player’s base salary or a built-in roster bonus into a signing bonus to spread out the cap hits to coincide with the league’s annual salary draw . This is the strategy they will adopt with Carr to be able to remain competitive in 2023.

But considering the Saints had to shed a lot of cap space to sign free agents, Carr will be the biggest of another value signing class similar to 2022, when they signed safeties Marcus Maye and Tyrann Mathieu and wide receiver Jarvis Landry. . Landry was injured much of the season, but the addition of Carr may prompt a similar signing, as the Saints need to add receivers. The big question, of course, remains with Thomas and whether he stays or goes after the Saints rework his contract in January as to how a parting of ways might play out. — Terrell

Where do the Saints stand cap wise?

The Saints still need to shed about $18 million to get more than $50 million under the salary cap after starting the offseason over the projected 2023 salary cap. The Saints have already restructured multiple player contracts itself, with more to come, and they could make even bigger moves, like releasing Winston. The Saints have yet to deal with the contracts of Cameron Jordan, Marshon Lattimore, Andrus Peat and Alvin Kamara. — Terrell

How does this move affect the rest of the QB market?

Carr’s reported $150 million contract with the Saints posts big numbers for the rest of the quarterback market (although details of the contract structure will reveal the full picture). This is a good sign for Geno Smith, who is in negotiations with the Seattle Seahawks. There were still questions about the strength of Carr’s deal, but it looks pretty strong. That also helps Jimmy Garoppolo, who was considered the backup plan for the Saints and could be for the Jets, too, should New York fail to land Aaron Rodgers. The Jets are still focused on Rodgers, but his $58.3 million guarantee in 2023 remains a question for interested teams. — Jeremy Fowler

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