Is the Oakland Raiders‘ drama still not done?
On the same day that the Raiders traded receiver Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys for a first-round draft pick, a Bay Area columnist reported that quarterback Derek Carr’s relationship with his teammates is fractured.
‘The belief in him is deteriorated’
There have been rumblings in recent weeks that Carr, the 36th overall pick in the 2014 draft who has started all but two games for the Raiders over the past four-plus seasons, might soon enough follow his friend, Khalil Mack, as someone Jon Gruden ships off.
That’s in part because Gruden has tended to favor older quarterbacks (Rich Gannon was his QB in his first go-round with Oakland, and Brad Johnson was his choice with the Buccaneers; they were both in their mid-30s), and in part because of how Carr’s contract is structured.
Marcus Thompson II, columnist for The Athletic Bay Area, wrote on Monday night that “the third core piece” of the Raiders might be on his way out, following Mack and Cooper.
“Raiders headquarters is not the best space for Carr. The belief in him has deteriorated, perhaps to irreparable levels,” Thompson wrote. “Team sources describe a fractured relationship between Carr and his teammates, mostly because confidence in him has waned. It certainly didn’t help when film showed what looked like him crying after being sacked and injuring his arm. They saw his face. They heard his whimper. They witnessed him explain on the sidelines. They assuredly watched it again in film session. It’s hard to see how Carr can lead this team again.
“There are already rumblings about Carr being a sitting duck. If the whispers are accurate, the Raiders have already concluded that Carr is not the quarterback of the future and the question is how do they go about moving on. His game is marked by a mental fragility that doesn’t inspire confidence.”
This is apparently the source of frustration with Carr, a moment from the game against Seattle in London earlier this month:
— Damon Bruce (@DamonBruce) October 14, 2018
In that Week 6 loss to the Seahawks, which was a 27-3 loss, Carr completed nearly three-quarters of his passes despite being sacked six times and hit 10 times, according to the official NFL statistics of the game.
To present it like Carr is the first player to moan or whimper or even to cry (which he denies, see below) after suffering a particularly hard hit or injury on the field is ridiculous.
Carr responds, brother protests
On Tuesday morning, Carr, who is an infrequent tweeter, posted this in response to the growing theater around the organization and him:
I’m a Raider. It’s not a “popular” thing to be a Raider right now, but I am and I love it. I love the struggle of trying to fight back for our city when not a lot of people believe in us. People can try all they want to tear us apart, but it’s not happening to the real ones. 💀
— Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) October 23, 2018
And one of his older brothers, Darren, who is the head football coach at Bakersfield (Calif.) Christian High, took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to defend his brother, particularly his toughness, which suddenly seems to be in question.
Darren tweeted that Derek was hit 16 times against the Seahawks and has also dealt with “broken pinky finger (throwing hand), sprained thumb (throwing hand), knee sprain MCL Grade 2, high ankle sprain Grade 3, concussion Grade 1, chest/ribs bruised, 3 broken bones in his back, broken fibula bone in leg
“2 missed games (because they made him).”
In a subsequent tweet, Darren asked, “Whose [sic] the teammate…I personally don’t think there is one and it’s all bullcrap to push an agenda.”
Darren was tweeting at ProFootballTalk, which amplified Thompson’s reporting, so his anger and questions were a bit misdirected.
Derek also tweeted to his brother, telling him, “Don’t even waste your time with this big bro. On the ground I yelled [sic] get me up get me. Then I got to the sideline and yelled again. Not one tear. Not one time. There is the Truth. People will click on it because it sounds crazy. But stop playing with me.”
Carr’s toughness has not previously been questioned, at least not publicly. Last year, he suffered a transverse process fracture in his back, an injury that typically requires 2-6 weeks to recover from, and missed just one game.
This season, via NFL statistics, Carr has been sacked 17 times and hit 40 in six games.
Thompson wrote, “Carr has few supporters at this point. In the locker room, the front office or the fan base.” But he added, “There is not much he can do behind an offensive line that won’t block, anyway. But maybe he has the grit and toughness to bounce back from this.”
Cooper wanted out
One other point from Thompson’s story: while Cooper didn’t explicitly ask to be traded, he “set the wheels in motion for it.” And the Raiders got a first-round pick out of the deal.
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