The New Orleans Saints still have arguably their biggest offseason question lying ahead at quarterback, but the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert is ready to scratch at least one name off his shortlist.
That name is Derek Carr, the longtime Las Vegas Raiders quarterback who is currently circling the trade market but will most likely hit free agency.
"I think if we bring in Derek Carr we still ain’t winning nothing," Hebert told Mike Detillier on SportsTalk this week. "We might be competitive, where all of a sudden you’re winning 9 or 10 games. I still think we’re going to be somewhat middle of the pack."
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The reasons are pretty simple, but revolve around the same core concept: Are the expectations for Carr, outside of his salary, really that much higher than Andy Dalton?
The numbers make a pretty compelling case that it might not. Carr is 3 years younger than Dalton, but didn't move the needle for the Raiders last season. The Saints got a close look at Carr in Week 8 at the Caesars Superdome. And yes, as Hebert puts it, "they didn't score a freakin' point" in a 24-0 Saints shutout.
It's a fair point, considering the Saints 2022 season was marred by inconsistent play and required a three-game winning streak late in the season to get out at 7-10.
The other big question: How much will it cost? The Saints could dive into the trade market for Carr, but that's a murky scenario at best. Carr holds a no-trade clause and could veto any deal he doesn't like. And the team that brings him in, regardless, will have to commit significant resources. If the Saints are looking for a veteran to serve as a bridge to a young QB, it wouldn't seem to make a lot of sense, as Hebert explains.
"The thing is going to be, when you’re looking at the salary cap. Doesn’t Derek Carr and Daniel Jones with the Giants, don’t they want over $30 million? OK, probably you could pay Andy Dalton a third of that, for sure half of that, and have Andy Dalton be the bridge for the future guy instead," Hebert said. "Because you bring in Derek Carr and you’re paying him over $30 million, he’s like your short-term answer right now and he thinks he’s the man, not the bridge guy.”
That said, the Saints aren't exactly falling over themselves with options. Jameis Winston is still under contract in New Orleans, but feels like a highly unlikely option considering his job was handed to Dalton midway through the season as he recovered from injury. Dalton is a free agent, and his market will be interesting to watch develop. Could New Orleans trade for an established guy such as Lamar Jackson or Aaron Rodgers? Could they target a young project like Tennessee's Hendon Hooker in the draft?
One obvious argument to justify bringing in Carr is the familiarity with head coach Dennis Allen, who was the head coach for the Raiders when Carr was drafted out of Fresno State in 2014. That relationship didn't last long, with Allen fired four games into that season.
However things develop, the answer to the QB question is likely to be the biggest storyline heading into the 2023 season.