Sean Pendergast

How Derek Carr Signing With New Orleans Impacts the Houston Texans

Derek Carr has found a new home in New Orleans.
Derek Carr has found a new home in New Orleans. Creen grab from YouTube
The National Football League's offseason is ready to kick into high gear next week, with free agency set to go full tilt on Monday with the legal tampering period, and the start of the league year on March 15 signaling the start of players able to put pen to paper on deals with new employers. It's always a fun and frenzied few days.

This offseason, we get the additional drama of a few franchise quarterbacks potentially changing area codes, and while the world waits for Aaron Rodgers' decision on whether ot not he will be playing next season — if he comes back, he could get traded to the Jets — former Raiders QB Derek Carr decided to go ahead and take his name off the market, signing a four year, $150 million deal with the New Orleans Saints.
For what it's worth, Carr's tweet shortly after the news broke would seem to indicate he is very happy with this turn of events:
So now where do we go from here as the free agency market (and Aaron Rodgers trade market) is set to open up next week? Here are a few thoughts on the news involving Carr on Monday:

As far as the Texans go, the ripple effect from Carr's decision is minimal.
Probably the most significant effect this move has on the Texans, who all know are in the market to find a quarterback fo the future, is that they will now see Carr on their schedule again in 2023, as the Saints are one of theTexans' home games slated for the 2023 season. Additionally, Carr signing in New Orleans means he does NOT end up with either of the other QB-needy teams in the division, Indianapolis or Tennessee. It looks like Indy is going to draft a quarterback high in the draft, and Tennessee seems content, for now, to stick with Ryan Tannehill.

Carr makes the Saints the immediate favorite in the NFC South
I've been saying this since the day Carr became a free agent back in February, after being released by the Raiders — signing Carr would make any of the four NFC South teams the immediate favorite in that division. That is undoubtedly the case now, as currently the other starting quarterbacks in the division are slated to be Kyle Trask (Tampa Bay), Matt Corral (Carolina), and Desmond Ridder (Atlanta). I would expect at least one, if not all three, to change by the time the draft is over, but that these are the names in the mix right now illustrates just how quickly Carr helped the Saints seize the role of division favorite. I suspect they will remain the favorite as the only free agent quarterback who is a noteworthy upgrade over these youngsters is Jimmy Garoppolo, and there is no indication he is leaning to signing with Carolina, Atlanta, or Tampa.

How are the Saints doing these salary cap gymnastics?
Before the Carr signing, the Saints were $23 million over the salary cap for 2023. They have until next week to clean that up, but yikes, it just became much harder. Much of the cap overflow comes from the end of the Sean Payton/Drew Brees Era, where the team was just pushing cap dollars into future years to keep their head above water and hang onto gaining contributors. At some point, it comes back to roost. The Saints are the person with maxed out credit cards, and they somehow just bought a boat yesterday.

What now with the other QB dominos?
The significant ones, in no particular order of significance, are Garoppolo, Rodgers, and Lamar Jackson. Reportedly, the Jets, who had met with Carr twice, are waiting to see what Rodgers decides to do before pulling the trigger on anything else. In order to land him, the Jets would likely have to give up at least a first round pick and then be ready to absorb a massive contract onto their books. Where Garoppolo lands is anybody's guess, and I expect Lamar Jackson to not only receive the franchise tag, but play the 2023 season under it for Baltimore.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast