Derek Carr sees opportunity, excitement as Saints’ starting quarterback
On Saturday, the New Orleans Saints introduced their new starting quarterback: nine-year veteran passer Derek Carr. Head coach Dennis Allen joined Carr at the Saints practice facility in Metairie, La. with Saints brass inlcuding owner Gayle Benson, general manager Mickey Loomis and Carr’s family in attendance. Allen quickly shared his excitement for the coming season with Carr at the helm.
“Honestly it’s an exciting time for us as an organization,” Allen said. “ I was fortunate enough to be with the Raiders when we drafted him in the second round and have always admired the type of person that he is as well as the type of player that he is. And so, it’s been outstanding just to watch him grow both as an individual and as a player. We’re excited about having him as our quarterback.”
Carr also shared his appreciation to he Saints for giving him a chance to join a new franchise for the first time since he was drafted by the then-Oakland Raiders in 2014. He reflected on his time with the Raiders, including his rookie season in 2014, where he first crossed paths with Allen. But what excites Carr the most is the opportunity ahead.
“This really is a dream come true moment for me,” Carr said. “The warmth and love that I felt from the city of New Orleans, Mrs. Benson, Mickey, DA, the whole organization, the whole city has been unbelievable.” He then went on after speaking highly of his time with the Raiders organization to sharing his high expectations for what can be achieved in New Orleans. “When you watch (the Saints’ skill players) on film though,” Carr remarked. “It’s hard not to get excited. For Saints fans, it’s hard not to be excited about the roster and what Mickey and DA have put together here. It’s exciting.”
For Carr, a big part of what sold New Orleans to him was the fact that they wanted him. His other suitors, the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers had other quarterbacks in eyeshot. The Jets have beeb locked in on trying to land Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers while the Panthers just made a desperate leap to the top of the 2023 NFL draft to select their passer of choice at the end of April. The Saints had only Carr in their sights.
“They showed me how they felt about me from the beginning,” Carr said of the Saints’ pursuit. “They were very honest and clearly you heard DA, what he said. And that’s exactly what he told me on the phone. So, the fact that they were even willing to trade for me. That that meant something. That shows… You’re showing me value without even showing me value, right? You’re valuing me as a quarterback, me as a human without even having to say anything. And that meant something. Not just something, it meant lot.”
The Fresno, Calif. native also highlighted what excites him about joining the team, first and foremost its roster. While New Orleans continues ongoing conversations with All-Pro wideout Michael Thomas, other talented pass-catchers like Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed await. The Saints should also have very little trouble keeping developing tight end Juwan Johnson who is a restricted free agent. But it doesn’t stop there. Thanks to Carr’s team-friendly contract structure, which only counts $7.2 million against the cap, New Orleans will have more than enough capital to add more weapons both in free agency and in the NFL draft.
But for Carr, it goes beyond the roster as well. Going from one very passionate fanbase in Las Vegas to another here in the Big Easy was an appeal to him as well. “It almost feels like that college feeling, like the whole city here, they’re in it with you, you know?” Carr said of the fanbase. “The city has been unbelievable to my family so far. We’ve literally been just blown away. And hopefully we can win for them and make more fun times. I can’t promise wins, but I can promise you a great effort. … So I’m excited to go out there and compete as hard as I can with my teammates and hopefully give them what they want.”
Allen highlighted some next steps for the organization now that they’ve landed their starting quarterback. “I don’t see us going out in the first day or two of free agency and having some big splash acquisition,” he said. “I think we’ll do what we’ve always done here. We’ll kind of monitor the market and see what players fit what we want to do and how we want to do things and if there’s a good fit there, we’ll pull the trigger on it. And if not, we’ll go through the draft process and let that play out.”
So New Orleans will focus in-house first as usual, trying to retain in homegrown talent, much like they did following Carr’s presser sealing a two=year deal with tight end Juwan Jackson. But a big fish in the first day seems unlikely. But suffice to say, landing Carr was about as big a fish as the team could have hoped for to kick off their offseason.
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Ross Jackson has been the host of the daily Locked On Saints podcast, covering the New Orleans Saints since 2018. Since then, his host role has expanded to include co-hosting Locked On NFL on Tuesdays with a focus on in-depth analysis on the biggest stories across the NFL and fantasy football. Ross is also a contributor for Saints Wire, part…