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Analyzing the Saints Roster: Will It Entice Derek Carr to Join?

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Outside of the Sean Payton trade rumors, the next pressing issue for the New Orleans Saints to address is their ongoing quarterback dilemma. With the possible release of Jameis Winston, the Saints are left with quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Taysom Hill on the roster. Now, we all know what the Saints have in both quarterbacks. Out of the two that are remaining, Hill has more upside.

But unfortunately, we may never see Hill play an entire season as the starting QB, along with a healthy cast of weapons. That ship sailed in 2021 when Winston beat Hill for the starting job. And everyone knows Dalton is not the long-term answer; he’s only a placeholder until the organization finds the right fit for the position.

With Dennis Allen’s future in doubt heading into the 2023 season, the Saints are now back at the drawing board to find another viable starter at quarterback. One name that comes to mind is Raiders signal-caller, Derek Carr. I say that because all signs point toward Carr leaving the Raiders soon. Las Vegas must decide before February 15, when Carr’s salary ($32.9 million) and $7.5 million of his 2024 salary are fully guaranteed to either trade or release him.

If a transaction occurs, Carr must be the final approving authority. A no-trade clause was added to the deal he signed in April, which means he can deny any move the Raiders make without his approval. The best way for the Saints to get Carr on the roster is to have Las Vegas release him.

If the Raiders release him, they will only be on the hook for five million dollars in dead money. But what makes the Saints roster attractive enough to lure him? Here we take a side-by-side comparison of their current roster and look at how they compare to other teams in terms of making the Saints an enticing destination for the former Raiders QB.

Washington Commanders

Current QBs: Taylor Heincke, Carson Wentz, Sam Howell  

Offense Rankings: Passing Yards (21st, 204.2), Rushing Yards (12th,120.2)

Key Offensive Personnel: Brian Robinson (RB), Antonio Gibson (RB), Terry McClaurin (WR), Jahan Doctson (WR), Curtis Samuel (WR).

Defense Rankings: (20.2 points against, 7th) (304.6 Total Defense, 3rd)

Breakdown: Commanders head coach Ron Rivera is in the same boat as Dennis Allen. It’s either playoffs or unemployment. The Commanders have qualified for the playoffs only once under Rivera. They have not lived up to those expectations during the past two seasons. From a roster perspective, the Commanders are a complete team compared to the Saints.

The only issue that is holding them back is the quarterback position. Recent reports stated that the new offensive coordinator must be prepared to work with second-year QB Sam Howell. But will the Commanders pass up on signing Carr if he becomes an available free agent? While the team may find significant value in going with Howell, Carr makes them a potential threat to win the NFC East.

New York Jets 

Current QBs: Zach Wilson, Mike White, Joe Flacco

Offense Rankings: Passing Yards (219.0, 15th) Rushing Yards (99.2, Tied-25th)

Key Offensive Personnel: Garrett Wilson (WR), Breece Hall (RB), Braxton Barrios (WR), Elijah Moore (WR)

Defense Rankings: (18.4 points against, 4th) (311.1, Total Defense, 3rd)

After two years, the Zach Wilson experience is over for the New York Jets. All signs point toward the team moving on from the former second-overall pick. New York made significant improvements in the second year under head coach Robert Salah. Their defense resembles a presence we have seen, such as the San Francisco 49ers unit. But like the Commanders, the Jets do not have the right guy at QB to take them over the top. Recently, rumors have surfaced that the Jets may be moving to acquire a Packers QB, Aaron Rodgers.

The talks got juicer after the Jets hired former Packers assistant and Broncos HC Nathaniel Hackett to become their next offensive coordinator. Some league insiders suggest that Hackett was hired to influence Rodgers to get traded to the Jets. If the move to acquire the former MVP does not happen, expect the Jets to shift their attention towards Carr or possibly Jimmy Garropolo. With the former Raider under center, the Jets would level the playing field in the AFC East. The three other teams in the division have better quarterback situations than New York right now.

Carolina Panthers

Current QBs: Sam Darnold, PJ Walker, Matt Corrall 

Offensive Rankings Passing Yards (176.2, 29th) Rushing Yards (130.0, 10th)

Key Offensive Personnel: DJ Moore (WR), D’Onta Foreman (RB), Chubba Hubbard (RB), Ian Thomas (TE), Tommy Tremble (TE)

Defense Rankings: (22.9, Points Against, 19th) (350.2 Total Defense, 23rd)

The Carolina Panthers recently hired Frank Reich to become their new head coach. Reich has a track record of elevating quarterbacks such as Andrew Luck, Carson Wentz, and Philip Rivers. Reich also brings a 40-33-1 record to Carolina. Out of all the three teams on the list, the Panthers could be the biggest threat to the Saints signing Carr.

The Panthers have an owner that wants to win badly and will try his best to surround his new head coach with the best assets available. Reich inherits a roster with cornerstone pieces such as Brian Burns, Jaycee Horn, Dontae Jackson, and DJ Moore. If Tom Brady leaves Tampa Bay and the Saints remain where they are, the Panthers could run away with the South if Carr becomes their starting QB.

Do the Saints Have the Edge Over the Other Teams?

I give the Saints a slight edge over the teams listed in the side-by-side comparison. The Saints’ offense took a drastic back on overall production. The main culprit that everyone seems to blame in Pete Carmichael will be returning to his role as the offensive coordinator. But the front office is confident that Carmichael and Allen will fix the plethora of mistakes that sunk the unit to new lows in 2022. While the Panthers, Jets, and Commanders may have a well-rounded roster than the Saints, they do not have a track record of long-term stability.

The Saints would be able to provide Carr the stability and support that is needed to build a contending roster. Team vice president Mickey Loomis knows how to manage a dire salary cap situation and build a competitive team. Carr would be joining a Saints squad with a strong locker room culture, a top-five defense, and a few building blocks on offense in Chris Olave, Juwan Johnson, and Rashid Shaheed. The next few days will be interesting as we go into February. The Raiders must decide what they will do with Carr before February 15, three days after the Super Bowl.

Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

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