The Tennessee Titans may pursue soon-to-be-free-agent quarterback Derek Carr, according to a report from Ian Rapoport. The Raiders are expected to release Carr on Tuesday or Wednesday. Rapoport listed the Titans, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets and Carolina Panthers as the four teams expected to pursue Carr.
The Raiders will release Carr prior to Feb. 15. That date guarantees Carr $40.4 million in salary across the next two campaigns. Carr refused to waive his no-trade clause despite being granted permission to visit the Saints. The Saints are still expected to enter the Carr sweepstakes.
Carr no longer possesses ties to Tennessee’s coaching staff. Ex-offensive coordinator Todd Downing spent one season (2017) calling plays for Carr in Vegas, but is now the passing game coordinator for the New York Jets. The Jets are mentioned as a potential Carr suitor. Saints head coach Dennis Allen also previously coached Carr.
Carr doesn’t feel like an ideal fit for Tennessee’s current offensive system. Of course we don’t know how much the existing system will remain in place under new offensive coordinator Tim Kelly. Kelly doesn’t arrive from the Kyle Shanahan or Sean McVay coaching trees. It indicates Tennessee’s 2023 offense may not be as zone-based as it was under Downing, Arthur Smith and Matt LaFleur. A shifting offensive system could include a new starting quarterback.
It’s worth acknowledging Rapoport has tied the Titans to several quarterbacks as of late. Rapoport mentioned Tennessee as a potential free-agent landing spot for Tom Brady before he retired. Rapoport has also linked the Titans to Jimmy Garoppolo, who is set to reach free agency in March. Perhaps Rapoport has heard something regarding Tennessee’s willingness to move on from Tannehill this offseason.
The Raiders are ‘breaking up’ with Carr following a disappointing 2022 campaign. Carr failed to acclimate to Josh McDaniels’ complicated offensive system. Carr completed just 60.8% of his passing attempts, which represented his lowest output since his 2014 rookie campaign (58.1%). Carr also matched a previous career-high with 14 interceptions. The Raiders are expected to pursue a quarterback that better aligns with McDaniels’ tendencies.
Tannehill appeared in 12 regular-season contests for the Titans in 2022 while battling a recurring ankle injury that eventually ended his season prematurely. Tannehill threw just 13 touchdowns. The Titans failed to qualify for the postseason for the first time in the Tannehill era. New general manager Ran Carthon can create $17.8 million in cap space by trading or releasing Tannehill pre-June-1st while carrying a dead cap charge of $18.8 million, per Spotrac. A post June-1st move increases the potential cap savings to $27 million while spreading out the dead cap hits across 2023 and 2024.
If the Titans are going to move on from Tannehill, they should aim higher than Carr or Garoppolo. Pursuing Carr would feel like a sideways move with a high-chance of actually downgrading given Carr has never played under this coaching staff or system. Carr’s sweepstakes aren’t expected to last particularly long, although the soon-to-be-former-Raider could take more visits before making a final decision.
If the Titans are truly interested in Carr, we should receive more information shortly.