Friday, Feb. 3, 2023 | 2 a.m.
Derek Carr spent time before the start of the Pro Bowl Games Thursday night at the Raiders’ Henderson headquarters chatting with AFC coach Peyton Manning, and then proceeded to look like him in the opening event.
The nine-year Raiders quarterback dominated the “precision passing” portion of the skills competition, hitting a variety of targets to put up 31 points — 10 more than second-place finishers Tyler Huntley (Ravens) and Jared Goff (Lions). Asked afterwards on live television if he’d “ever been that hot in Las Vegas,” the 31-year-old had a self-deprecating response.
“Not that hot,” Carr said. “That’s probably why I’m going somewhere else.”
As a replacement inclusion in the Pro Bowl, Carr was far from the biggest name or most accomplished player partaking in the annual all-star game. But he was undoubtedly the center of attention at the kickoff of the reimagined event given his uncertain future and the awkwardness of seeing him back in the building he once called home.
Carr left the Raiders the morning coach Josh McDaniels decided to bench him, with two games remaining, and did not return for the rest of the regular season. His locker remained untouched on the day of the Raiders’ exit interviews the Monday after their final game.
But he was all smiles roaming the halls and practice field at the Pro Bowl Games, enjoying one of his last chances to bid farewell to the Raiders’ fan base. The final opportunity comes at noon Sunday at Allegiant Stadium where he’ll play for the AFC alongside Raider teammates Josh Jacobs, Maxx Crosby, Davante Adams and A.J. Cole in three flag football games to cap Pro Bowl week.
“It brings tears to your eyes because you love them so much,” Carr told ESPN of the Raiders’ fan base. “You poured your heart out to try and give them some memories.”
Memories might be all that’s left for Carr to give to the Raiders after he confirmed reports from earlier this week that the team had not cleared him to discuss the possibility of a trade with other franchises. The remainder of Carr’s $121.5 million contract becomes guaranteed on Feb. 15, meaning the Raiders will need to release him before then unless they can agree in principle with a trade partner.
The transaction wouldn’t go through until the start of the new league year March 15, but a deal is unlikely to be consummated if Carr isn’t allowed to talk to other teams in advance. Potential suitors would likely want to discuss Carr’s contract situation and confirm he wanted to join their team.
Carr holds a no-trade clause, so he could veto any deal the Raiders could conceivably make without consulting him. He said he would not extend the Feb. 15 deadline to help the Raiders.
“I’m just obeying the rules. If it gets to the date (and I get released), then I’ll be able to talk to all my friends,” Carr said.
Carr was quite talkative Thursday, particularly chatting it up with fellow AFC quarterbacks Huntley and the Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence. He seems to have a sense of humor about being elevated to the Pro Bowl off of one his worst seasons, joking earlier in the week that maybe “this invitation got lost in the mail from previous seasons.”
But given the chance, he saw no reason not to make the most of his fourth career Pro Bowl berth and what will go down as his final official appearance as a member of the Raiders.