Raiders quarterback Derek Carr might currently hold the mantle of the best young quarterback in the NFL. In 2016, he threw for nearly 4,000 yards and guided Oakland back to the playoffs after a long layoff with a 12-3 record in the 15 games he started.
Carr is, without any argument, a franchise quarterback. And franchise quarterbacks get paid.
In the last year of his rookie deal, and coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons, a new contract for Carr could eclipse the windfall of Andrew Luck's $125 million signed in 2016.
The only weird thing, it hasn't happened yet.
A report emerged earlier this week that Carr was growing frustrated with the pace of contract talks with the Raiders. In 2017, he stands to make just below $1 million. It's great money in the regular world, but for an NFL MVP candidate, it's peanuts.
Carr has stated he would like to stay with the Raiders his entire career, but if the team and player don't get a deal done, the quarterback would be looking at free agency in 2018. Or a franchise tag.
That's where there are some similarities with Redskins QB Kirk Cousins.
Named the full-time starter in 2015, Cousins played at a very high level the second half of the season as he guided the Redskins to an NFC East title. That was also the final year of Cousins rookie deal, and he could not reach a long-term deal with Washington the following offseason.
In 2016, Cousins played on the franchise tag for nearly $20 million. So far in 2017, looks like Cousins will again play on a franchise tag, this time for $24 million, and the specter of unrestricted free agency grows by the day in 2018.
It's hard to bring the parallels for Carr and Cousins much further before entering into the wild speculation category. It is worth nothing, however, while Carr is younger and regarded as the better long-term player, Cousins actually posted better stats the last two seasons.
In 2015, Carr completed 61 percent of his passes for just under 4,000 yards and 32 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. That same season, Cousins completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 4,166 yards and 29 touchdowns against 11 interceptions.
In 2016, Carr completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for 3,937 yards to go with 28 TDs against only six INTs in 15 games. For Cousins, he completed 67 percent of his passes for 4,917 yards and 25 TDs against 12 INTs. Carr is 26, Cousins will be 29 when the season starts.
It still seems likely the Raiders get a deal done with Carr. The franchise had a wild offseason, starting with the vote to move to Las Vegas, and had to deal with free agency and the NFL Draft. Now it's time for the organization to focus on a Carr contract.
Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie said in a radio interview, "The bottom line is that we love Derek and we want to keep him. We’re going to [do] everything to make sure this contract gets done."
Sounds good if you're a Raiders fan.
Remember though, Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden have been clear that the Redskins are working on a long-term deal with Cousins too.
"Our goal from the beginning has been long-term," Allen told CSN in March of a Cousins contract. "I'm still hopeful and confident we'll do it."
No long-term deal has emerged for the Redskins and Cousins. That doesn't mean the same for Oakland and Carr. In fact, one has little to no impact on the other.
There are some parallels though, and interested Raiders and Redskins fans would be smart to keep an eye on both situations.
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