What would a trade sending Derek Carr from the Las Vegas Raiders to the New Orleans Saints look like? ESPN's Jeremy Fowler cites one league source who says Carr could be moved for a third-round pick, but things are a little more complicated with the Saints involved. For what it's worth, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that a framework is already in place with both sides having agreed on potential trade compensation.
No team is in the red by a wider margin than New Orleans when it comes to the salary cap, and while they could fit Carr's hefty salary cap hit on the books by restructuring multiple contracts and letting go of some players, it would be easier if they can talk the Raiders into paying some of his salary to facilitate a trade. That's a move they pulled a few years ago in trading for cornerback Bradley Roby, with the Houston Texans converting most of his salary into a signing bonus so they would take on a dead money cap hit while getting better draft pick compensation from New Orleans.
That could be the move here. Carr's base salary is set at $32.9 million for 2023, and the Saints would be on the hook for all of it in a straight-up trade. But if they sweeten the deal and offer Las Vegas a better pick, they could reduce that number by as much as $21.2 million. That makes it significantly easier for the Saints to fit him on their books.
There's the catch, though. Carr would have to agree to a reworked deal and he doesn't have much incentive to do that when he'll likely see more guaranteed money as a free agent than in this scenario (Fowler adds that it's believed Carr wouldn't sign off on such a reworked deal, too). The Saints could sign him to a multiyear extension upon trading for him, and that topic's probably what his Wednesday visit in New Orleans is going to focus on. Either way, he's going to make some more money in the very near future.
So let's circle back to the trade compensation. Las Vegas has little to no leverage here, with a week to go until their trade deadline and Carr wielding a no-trade clause. On paper, the Saints are approaching this from a position of strength. They could choose to only offer, say, a fifth rounder and tell the Raiders to take it or leave it, and they'll sign Carr outright as a free agent. Hypothetically.
But that's missing something crucial: the Saints very likely do not want Carr to reach the open market because they'll be outbid by teams with more resources. They have an incentive in getting a deal done before that Feb. 15 deadline just like the Raiders do. And if Carr is willing to waive his no-trade clause for multiple teams (though, so far, the Saints are the only franchise scheduling a visit with him) they'll face immediate compensation. If they're convinced Carr is their guy, they'll feel a need to act decisively to lock him down.
Okay, now for why you're here. The trade proposal. And we've got two of them, based on ESPN's reporting and the established price for trading a mid-level quarterback. Here are two potential trade packages:
Saints trade their 2023 third rounder for Carr, no changes to his contract, leaving his salary cap hit at $32.9 million
Saints trade their 2023 third rounder and a 2024 fourth rounder for Carr and his reworked contract, reducing his cap hit to $11.7 million
Some fans are going to start hollering about that being an overpay. They might be right. But the Saints have a history of unconventional draft pick valuation and it wouldn't be a surprise for them to overdo it again here. In a perfect world, the Saints wouldn't have to trade anything for Carr. They could just wait this out and sign him once he's a free agent. If they feel a strong sense of urgency, though, they may feel that it's a better course of action to overspend and cross this off their to-do list early. It isn't what I would do, but it may be what they choose to do.
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Story originally appeared on Saints Wire