Win-win: Saints, Carr both got what they needed
Dennis Allen needed Derek Carr as much as Derek Carr needed Dennis Allen.
So they both got what they needed Monday.
The New Orleans Saints head coach got the quarterback he coveted after his first season ended with a job-threatening 7-10 record and the unemployed former Raiders quarterback landed in the place he had targeted nearly a month ago.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis agreed to the most lucrative contract ever paid to a New Orleans player and Carr pocketed a more than satisfactory package to replace the $41.9 million in 2024 salary that Las Vegas passed on by releasing Carr on February 14.
Reportedly Carr will cost the Saints potentially as much as $150 million for four years with approximately $100 million of that guaranteed.
Paying that much will limit how much the Saints can spend on free agents this offseason and for a few years to come, but not signing Carr would have significantly limited how many games the Saints could win in the near future.
These types of acquisitions always require an evaluation of whether the football asset warrants the financial liability.
And that equation can never be completed until the player’s tenure is completed. But here we are trying to evaluate the wisdom of the equation before the new player has even arrived.
Let’s start with the Saints’ options.
First of all, their starting quarterback for the 2023 season was not on their roster before Monday.
Andy Dalton is about to become a free agent and his re-signing would not have provided a starter that could elevate the ceiling for a below-average offense that was the biggest limitation of last season’s losing team.
Jameis Winston was not going to be the starting quarterback in 2023 even though he earned the position before being injured in 2021 and 2022. Allen’s refusal to return Winston to the starting position after he was cleared to play in the middle of last season settled that.
So the Saints were going to have to look outside the 2022 team to find the 2023 starting quarterback.
Carr was their best option.
Who else were they going to get?
Or maybe they could draft a quarterback. They did strengthen that possibility when they acquired a No. 1 pick (albeit No. 29) when they traded the rights to dormant coach Sean Payton to Denver last month.
But they weren’t going to hire a quarterback with the 29th pick in the draft that was capable of starting and being more effective than Carr – or any other competent veteran – in 2023.
They got the best guy they could get – and they got him without subtracting from their roster, just as they acquired the No. 1 from Denver without subtracting from their roster.
Carr was the best option the Saints had for 2023.
And the Saints were the best option that Carr had for 2023.
The Raiders gave up on him. The Jets and the Panthers were the only teams to talk to him, though the Saints were the only team to talk with him before he became a free agent.
The Saints’ aggressiveness toward Carr paid off. He refused to waive his no-trade clause presumably because he didn’t want his new team to have to relinquish assets to acquire him when he would inevitably become a free agent.
Once the Raiders terminated his contract, Carr met with the Jets and the Panthers and continued the multiple courtships at the NFL Combine last week.
He understandably and wisely kept playing multiple teams against one another to try and maximize the value of his impending contract.
Eventually he got as much money as he could.
Eventually the Saints got the best quarterback they could, and Carr joined the best team that he could.
The deal that got finalized Monday was a win-win for the Saints and Carr.
The expectation is that next season will produce more wins for the Saints and Carr than either would have experienced without this partnership.
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Les East is a nationally renowned freelance journalist. The New Orleans area native’s blog on SportsNOLA.com was named “Best Sports Blog” in 2016 by the Press Club of New Orleans. For 2013 he was named top sports columnist in the United States by the Society of Professional Journalists. He has since become a valued contributor for CCS. The Jesuit High…