Raiders bench Derek Carr with playoffs all but lost, $33M injury guarantee looming

The Las Vegas Raiders have benched quarterback Derek Carr with two games remaining in the regular season.

Head coach Josh McDaniels announced the news on Wednesday.

Jarrett Stidham will start in his place on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers and presumably in next week's regular season finale against the Kansas City Chiefs. Carr will be inactive. The Raiders are still mathematically alive for the postseason at 6-9, but last week's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers all but eliminated them from reasonable contention.

Meanwhile, Carr is due $33 million next season that's fully guaranteed in case of injury. He'd also be guaranteed $7.5 million in 2024 in case of injury, The Athletic's Vic Tarfur reports. According to the report, the Raiders front office met on consecutive nights this week to discuss the course of action regarding Carr.

"There’s a lot to be sorted through once the season is over,” McDaniels said Wednesday.

Carr and the Raiders mutually agreed after the decision that he would step away from the team for the last two weeks of the season to avoid being a distraction, according to multiple reports. Carr did not publicly respond to his demotion on Wednesday.

INGLEWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 8: Derek Carr #4 of the Las Vegas Raiders stands on the sidelines during the national anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium on December 8, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
Derek Carr's season is over. Is his Raiders career done too? (Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

Carr has been the Raiders starter for nine seasons since they selected him in the second round of the 2014 draft. He's missed just two regular season games in his career. He missed both of those games because of injury.

The decision raises obvious doubts about his future with the franchise. Carr has made three Pro Bowls in his nine seasons, with has last arriving after the 2017 campaign. The Raiders have made the playoffs twice with Carr at quarterback, including a wild-card berth last season. They've not won a playoff game since 2002.

In 2022, Carr's completed 60.8% of his passes for 3,522 yards with 24 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. His completion rate is his worse since his rookie season and a steep drop from his 68.4% rate in 2021. His 14 interceptions are the most in the league through Week 16. He threw three interceptions in Saturday's 13-10 loss to the Steelers that all but eliminated them from the postseason.

The Raiders hired McDaniels last offseason in part because of his prowess as the longtime offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots. Carr and the Raiders offense regressed in his first season as head coach. McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler will be under pressure in their second season together to show improvement on offense and in the standings regardless of who's playing quarterback.

Davante Adams responds

The Raiders also traded last offseason for All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, a close friend of Carr's who played with him at Fresno State. Adams spoke with reporters Wednesday afternoon while wearing a Fresno State hoodie.

"Obviously, I don't think anybody was excited about it in here," Adams said. "Him being one of my really good friends and the reason why I came here in the first place.

"I wouldn't be here right now if he wasn't here. ... Obviously I support my guy. We've got to finish the season up the best way we can possibly with all things considered at this point."

He confirmed that he's spoken with Carr since the decision and declined to address how Carr's demotion impacts how he views is place with the Raiders.

Adams isn't the only Raider who's close with Carr, who's a respected leader in the locker room. Moving on from him in Las Vegas is not a decision that would be taken lightly.