Baby, You Can Drive My Carr

The story behind the new quarterback for the Saints

Chris Price is an award-winning journalist and public relations principal. When he’s not writing, he’s avid about music, the outdoors, and Saints, Ole Miss and Chelsea football.

After a dismal 7-10 campaign, the New Orleans Saints need to make the right moves this offseason to return to their winning ways and keep fans happy.
Among a handful of changes, in March the team singled in on and signed free agent quarterback Derek Carr to a four-year contract reportedly worth up to $150 million.

Allen and the Saints are banking on the 31-year-old QB breathing life into a previously elite offense that has slumped to mediocrity after the retirement of sure bet first ballot NFL Hall of Famer Drew Brees after the 2020 season.

Carr, 6-3, 210, has started every game he has played in nine years in the NFL and made the playoffs in 2016 and 2021 and the Pro Bowl four times (2015-17, 2022). He was the 36th overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders, but fell out of favor with the now Las Vegas-based team last season. In 142 career regular season games, he has completed 3,201 of 4,958 passes (64.6 percent) for 35,222 yards, 217 touchdown passes, 99 interceptions and a 91.8 passer rating. He’s also added 845 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Last year, he started 15 games for the Raiders and threw for 3,522 yards, completed 305 of 502 pass attempts (60.8 percent) for 24 touchdowns and an 86.3 passer rating. The team informed Carr they were going to move in a different direction and split with the player before the final two games of the season.

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The New York Jets and division rival Carolina Panthers pursued Carr, but the Black and Gold won out. The team had to restructure several players’ contracts to create enough room under the salary cap to sign the QB. His deal is worth a reported $150 million, with a $28.5 million signing bonus, $1.5 million fully guaranteed salary in 2023, $30 million fully guaranteed in 2024; $40 million in 2025, and $50 million in 2026. Now, the 31-year-old will take the helm in the Big Easy, looking to return the Saints offense to the potency it had under Brees.

The move reunites Allen and Carr, who worked together previously as head coach and QB of the Raiders. Allen was the team’s coach from 2012-2014 and was at the helm when the team drafted Carr in 2014 from Fresno State and chose the rookie as the team’s starting quarterback. The duo only appeared in four games together; however, after the Raiders fired Allen weeks into the 2014 season.

“I had the opportunity to work with Derek at the start of his professional football career,” Allen said when the team signed Carr… “I saw Derek’s development into one of the most productive quarterbacks in the National Football League.”

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Carr’s addition is expected to add some stability to the Saints offense, which has several question marks in regard to leadership and continuity.

His signing seemingly brings an end to the tenure of quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston. Dalton started 14 games for the Saints in 2022 and is a free agent. Winston is under contract for another year and set to earn a $12.8 million in base salary in 2023, but his release seems imminent. The former top overall pick started just 10 games over the past two seasons after winning the starting job in 2021. He tore knee ligaments seven games into the 2021 season and spent the rest of the year on injured reserve. He signed a new deal in 2022 but fractured his back and injured a foot in the first month of the season and never regained his starting job. It is expected the team will release Winston at the NFL June 1 deadline, which will save the team $12.8 million in money charged to their salary cap figure.

Additionally, the team will have to secure a leaky offensive line that was prone to injury and couldn’t provide as much pass protection as they would have liked.
For now, the Saints have their guy at the most important position on the field. Hopefully, the team can continue to bolster its roster through free agency and this month’s draft and reach playoff contention again.

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Allen’s defense alone somehow kept New Orleans in the wild-card mix late in 2022. While Carr isn’t necessarily a massive upgrade on Andy Dalton, he’s got a superior ceiling. The fact he got a four-year contract from team brass suggests New Orleans, again, isn’t all that interested in a rebuild, meaning Allen won’t be immediately saddled with shepherding a totally overhauled roster.

Even with all the movement and some remaining question marks, the Saints may have the best roster in the NFC South, which mean winning the division and making noise in the playoffs again could be in the team’s future as soon as this year.


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