The New Orleans Saints have a new quarterback. Derek Carr is headed to the Big Easy, according to multiple reports.
Carr was available to sign ahead of the official start to the new league year (March 15) since he was released by the Las Vegas Raiders.
Why does this news pertain to the Philadelphia Eagles, you ask? Well, in case you forgot, here’s a reminder that the Birds own the Saints’ second-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft by way of last year’s trade.
And so just like we monitored the status of the 2023 first-round pick that ultimately landed at No. 10 overall, we’ll be closely keeping an eye on how New Orleans fares this season.
The Saints’ 2023 outlook improved by signing Carr. He instantly becomes the best quarterback in the NFC South ... not that that’s saying much. These are the other passers under contract in the division:
Atlanta Falcons — Desmond Ridder, Logan Woodside
Carolina Panthers — Matt Corral
Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Kyle Trask
These teams will undoubtedly add more QB talent. The Falcons own the No. 8 overall pick while the Panthers are right behind at No. 9. One of them could potentially trade up as high as No. 1 overall to select a new signal caller, assuming the Chicago Bears are truly willing to move down.
The Falcons are also set to enter the new league year with the second-most cap space. They have the resources to pay a veteran quarterback if they so desire. Perhaps they could pry Lamar Jackson away from the Baltimore Ravens?
For now, though, Carr is the top option and it’s not close.
The Saints are hoping the soon-to-be 32-year-old will be able to rebound from the second-worst season of his career (passer rating wise, at least). If Canal Street Chronicles is any indication, their fans seem optimistic about this move:
The Saints have landed their guy and now add him to a talented roster. He joins an offense that has rising stars in WR’s Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed and a current superstar in running back Alvin Kamara. The future of Michael Thomas is unknown, but he has hinted at wanting to stay, if possible.
The Saints were an attractive landing spot for Carr because of the familiar faces in the coaching staff. HC Dennis Allen, DC Joe Woods, and DB coach Marcus Johnson all were on the 2014 Raider staff. The Saints also have one of the top defenses in the NFL which will be attractive for any free agent. Carr witnessed firsthand how good the Saints’ defense was this past season after the Raiders came into the dome and left without scoring a point.
The Saints offense will have a lot of work to do but adding Carr to the team instantly solves a lot of problems. Getting their QB this early in the offseason is a huge win for the Saints, who can attack different needs through free agency and the draft. The aggressiveness from the Saints front office relied on if they found their QB this offseason, Carr may not be the best QB “available” but he is the one that made the most sense for New Orleans.
The Saints are not true championship contenders with Carr under center. But they are certainly playoff contenders.
In addition to being the best QB in his division, Carr is arguably one of the better players at his position in a relatively weak NFC. How many guys are you definitely taking over him? Jalen Hurts and Dak Prescott, for sure. Aaron Rodgers, if he returns ... which seems increasingly unlikely. Geno Smith, if he returns to the NFC and plays like he did last year, which isn’t a given. Matthew Stafford, if he’s healthy, which also isn’t necessarily a given. You can make the case for Kirk Cousins and/or Jared Goff over Carr but he’s more of that ilk. Justin Fields has the potential to be better but doesn’t have the track record to suggest he truly is yet. It’s hard to know what to make of the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback situation.
The early guess here is that the Saints finish something like 10-7 in 2023. They were 8-9 last year by using the trio of Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, and Taysom Hill at quarterback and dealing with a number of key injuries.
The Eagles will hope that my prediction ends up looking foolish as the Saints crater under Carr and send a high second-round selection to Philly.