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Dolphins should pursue Derek Carr? No they should not

The Las Vegas Raiders released quarterback Derek Carr. The Miami Dolphins should not try to bring him to South Florida.

2023 NFL Pro Bowl Games Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders released Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Carr on Tuesday, just ahead of a contractual deadline that would have guaranteed him $40.4 million this season. The move means Carr is immediately a free agent, able to sign with any team now, ahead of next month’s free agency period featuring players with expiring contracts.

Rumors have the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, and New York Jets all interested in the 2014 second-round pick out of Fresno State. It was another team that interested Peter Schrager of NFL Network’s Good Morning Football on Tuesday, however.

“The Miami Dolphins are interesting to me,” Schrager answered when prompted if the Jets potentially are the favorite to land Carr. “That’s a way outside the box thing, To me, if I am the Miami Dolphins and I don’t know what the situation is with (Dolphins starting quarterback) Tua (Tagovailoa) and I look at Derek Carr. I have a team ready...I think everyone’s intention is Tua is returning as the quarterback, but Tua is in the final year of a contract. He hasn’t had that big year yet, hasn’t gotten that big deal. I don’t know anything from the Dolphins’ side of it, but for me, if I am the Dolphins, I am so close. My roster is so loaded, you bring in Derek Carr to Miami, are they not one of the favorites in the AFC?”

Co-host Kyle Brandt responded after a moment of hesitation from the rest of the cast, stating, “Here’s what I will say. Peter never just talks out of his butt, and I know you are not reporting anything, Peter, but you don’t sit here and go from the hip.”

Schrager continued, saying, “We already know they are going to bring a veteran quarterback in. So if Miami, we know they are bringing a veteran quarterback in, we know they are bringing someone in to supplement Tua, or at least compliment Tua. That’s a huge swing, but what are we doing in the NFL these days? Do you go half measure?”

He added, “It wouldn’t be moving on from Tua. You bring them both in.” He went on to admit it is a crazy idea, but he said he is seeing other teams go all-in for a year to make sure they win, and that this could be Miami’s move to make sure they win in their current window.

Carr is coming off of one of his worst seasons in the NFL, seeing his passer rating drop from a 101.4 three years ago, to a 94.0 in 2021, and continue down to a 86.3 this year. He threw for 3,522 yards with a 60.8 percent completion rate, 24 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and a 7.0 yards per attempt average. He only played 15 games this year as he and the team agreed he should prepare for his release and avoid being a distraction to the team. He was selected to the Pro Bowl as an alternate, marking the fourth time in his career he made it to the all-star event, joining his 2015, 2016, and 2017 selections.

In comparison, Tagovailoa threw for 3,548 yards with a 64.8 percent completion rate, 25 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, and a league-high 8.9 yards per attempt average. He finished the year with a league-best 105.5 passer rating. Tagovailoa missed four regular season games and the Dolphins’ playoff game after sustaining multiple concussions during the season. He was the first alternate for the Pro Bowl this year, though his injuries prevented him from being at the game.

The Dolphins likely will be looking for a veteran quarterback who can serve as the backup behind Tagovailoa in 2023. They have to be smart about their choice because there is concern about his ability to stay healthy, having not played more than 13 games in any of his three seasons in the league. They need someone they can trust to take over and lead the offense should something happen to Tagovailoa.

Carr is not that guy, however.

He is likely going to be looking for a big contract, and the Dolphins are not in a position to give it to him. He is going to raise the point that he was a Pro Bowl quarterback this year, no matter how many alternates it took to get him there, he was there. Even with the possibility of working the contract to take advantage of any offset language in the Raiders contract that he just left, Carr is likely not going to be cheap in free agency.

Carr is going to want to be a starter, not a backup behind a younger player like Tagovailoa. It does not make sense for him to want to come to the Dolphins, only to not play. Even on a “prove-it” deal, Carr would want the playing time to prove he still has it. Sitting behind Tagovailoa would not get him the playing time needed to prove anything.

And Carr does need to prove something. He was teamed up with his college teammate DeVante Adams this year, but adding a top-tier wide receiver did not improve Carr’s stats. Is he on the downhill side of his career? Is getting out of Las Vegas going to revitalize his career? There are questions surrounding Carr that have to be answered.

Finally, do the Dolphins want to put themselves in a position where every incomplete pass and interception leads to calls for a quarterback change? If Tagaovailoa is starting over Carr, how long until fans want Carr taking the first snaps? If Carr starts over Tagovailoa, how long until fans, who are already invested in Tagovailoa, are ready for him to move back into the starting lineup? It is not a situation that works well either way, so why would the Dolphins want to do that to themselves?

Carr deserves a chance to go to a new team and make an impact. That team is not the Miami Dolphins, however.