Derek Carr isn’t stupid. He understood right away what was going on as the course of 2018 began to unfold regarding the direction of the Oakland Raiders.
In his mind, as in many others, the team was a potential playoff contender. If they could get some help on defense there was every reason to think they could compete in the AFC. After all, they went 12-4 two years ago and were 7-9 last year. Yet all of that optimism went out the window when head coach Jon Gruden decided to give away their superstar pass rusher Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears in a blockbuster trade.
That was a loud and clear message that Gruden not only was asserting his authority but also had long-term plans to blow the team up and start over. His 10-year contract was another such sign. Soon enough Amari Cooper was next, traded away to the Dallas Cowboys. Speculation has been rampant for weeks that Carr himself might be next. This was reinforced when cameras caught him in a sideline spat with Gruden during the game against Arizona.
His response regarding his expectations for the offense moving forward threw even more gasoline on that fire too.
"“I just want to win. I want to mess up the draft. I don’t want the first pick. I want to win all these games. I want everybody to be mad at me for that. That’s what I want to accomplish.”"
Derek Carr sounds like a man who knows he’s being squeezed out
It’s important to remember a few things here. Gruden did not draft Carr, which is important to consider. The first time around in Oakland back in 1998, he replaced the quarterbacks on the roster by his second season. Granted they weren’t of the caliber that Carr is but Gruden has always been finicky about that position. He tends to prefer older veterans who have extensive knowledge of complex offenses. It’s possible he doesn’t think Carr is there.
Based on that comment by Carr, his intention to ruin a lot of people’s days regarding their obsession with the draft picks. That includes the head coach who worked hard to get them in the first place. What better way to head out of town than by winning just enough games to take away the precious draft position? Regardless it’s clear the young quarterback is playing hard for one of two reasons.
Either to prove to Gruden he can be the guy or to prove to the other teams around the league that Gruden will be making a mistake by trading him away too.