ALAMEDA, California – Derek Carr and general manager Reggie McKenzie never doubted the two sides could reach a long-term contract agreement to keep the quarterback with the Raiders before Carr’s self-imposed training camp deadline.
Carr was open about how much he wanted to spend his entire career with the organization and after a decade searching for a franchise quarterback the Raiders weren’t about to let a player they drafted and developed leave just as he was becoming a star.
So the two sides were able to agree on a five-year, $125 million extension that makes Carr the NFL’s richest player, at least temporarily, and won’t hinder the team’s ability to give its other young stars like AP Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack, receiver Amari Cooper and guard Gabe Jackson new contracts before they hit free agency.
“I think that both sides wanted it to get done,” Carr said Friday. “It was two family members just figuring out how to get along, and we did. We figured out a way to do it so that we have the opportunity to sign the other guys that I think are important to this organization. That was really important to me, not just to take every single dime that we could.”
Carr will still get plenty. The $25 million per year in new money is the richest contract ever in the NFL, beating out the $24.8 million a year Andrew Luck got from Indianapolis. That could be surpassed with Detroit’s Matthew Stafford and Washington’s Kirk Cousins in line for new deals soon.
But Carr is not worried about that and the Raiders are pleased to have the face of their franchise under contract through 2022 as they prepare to move to Las Vegas in 2020.
“From the outset, both sides wanted the deal done, and I felt our guys did a great job getting together and hammering it out,” McKenzie said. “We both wanted the same thing. That part was easy. We could tell that Derek wanted to be here. And we let him know, without a doubt, that we wanted him here.”
Carr has transformed the Raiders from a perennial loser into a contender after being drafted in the second round in 2014. He was part of a stellar draft class with Mack and Jackson that has been key to Oakland’s turnaround.
Carr has helped the Raiders go from an 0-10 start his rookie season to 12 wins and the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2002 last year to possible Super Bowl contenders this season.
Last year’s run was derailed when Carr broke his leg in the second-to-last game of the regular season and the Raiders then lost their first playoff game in Houston.
But with Carr healthy, most of the other key players back and Marshawn Lynch providing a boost at running back, the Raiders are hoping for even bigger things this season.
Carr has thrown for 11,194 yards in his first three seasons and ranks fourth all-time with 81 touchdown passes through three years, trailing only Dan Marino, Luck and Peyton Manning. He has shown dramatic improvement each season in his career and was at his best last year when he led seven fourth-quarter comebacks while completing a career-high 63.8 percent of his passes. He threw for 3,937 yards with 28 touchdowns and only six interceptions.
“I think I’ve set a standard for myself, the organization and for this team, personally, that no amount of money is going to matter. It doesn’t matter,” he said. “You can give me a dollar, you can give me $25 million, it doesn’t matter to me. My goal is that I make sure I give everything I have to this organization. There’s no pressure, there’s no, ‘We’ll be on the 1-yard line and I won’t give it to Marshawn, I’ll throw it.’ None of that stuff. I don’t care about the stats, that’s not my No. 1 objective.”
Carr has no extravagant plans for his new-found riches. He wants to eat some Chick-fil-A, buy something nice for his wife, Heather, and donate money to his church and charity groups in places like Haiti that are important to him.
His teammates had other ideas. Cornerback Sean Smith suggested he buy a fancy European sports car, tackle Donald Penn had a list of gifts he wanted, but mostly his teammates congratulated him on the deal.
“All of my teammates to a man said, ‘Man you work your tail off, you deserve it,'” Carr said. “I don’t feel like I deserve it. But just them saying that grabbed my heart because they’re the ones I go to battle with, they’re the ones I work with every single day. What they have to say really matters to me. I do know I will have to owe them all a big dinner. That will be fun.”