With Derek Carr out as starting quarterback, the Las Vegas Raiders are moving on without him in the locker room.
Meanwhile, his Raiders teammates including close friend Davante Adams have responded to the news.
Head coach Josh McDaniels announced on Wednesday that backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham was taking over for Carr for the last two weeks of the season. Not long after, multiple reports broke that Carr and the Raiders mutually agreed that he would step away from the team for the rest of the season to avoid being a distraction.
The news arrives with the 6-9 Raiders all but eliminated from the playoffs and Carr guaranteed $33 million next season in the event that he gets injured. After nine seasons as the Raiders starting quarterback, his tenure with the team is on the brink.
The news made an obvious impact in the Raiders locker room, most notably with Adams. The All-Pro receiver played with Carr at Fresno State and left the Green Bay Packers via trade last season to join his friend and college teammate in Las Vegas. Adams spoke about Carr’s demotion on Wednesday while wearing a Fresno State hoodie.
“Obviously, I don’t think anybody was excited about it in here,” Adams said of Carr’s demotion. “Him being one of my really good friends and the reason why I came here in the first place.
“I wouldn’t be here right now if he wasn’t here. … Obviously I support my guy. We’ve got to finish the season up the best way we can possibly with all things considered at this point.”
The Raiders traded first- and second-round picks in the 2022 draft to acquire Adams from Green Bay. They then signed him to a five-year, $141.25 million deal. When prompted on Wednesday, Adams declined to address his future with the team. He also said that he’s spoken with Carr since the news broke and planned to do so again later Wednesday.
Tight end Darren Waller, who’s made a Pro Bowl catching passes from Carr and played seven season with his quarterback, also addressed the news.
“You’ve got to kind of take the emotions out of it and just realize that the only thing that’s productive is to support Jarrett moving forward,” Waller said. “Guys are excited about him being able to get an opportunity. So we’re letting him know that we believe in him. …
“Naturally it’s tough. I believe two things can co-exist like believing in Derek. … But also supporting Jarrett and moving forward with this week and preparing. I think the two things can co-exist.”
Waller’s words epitomize what promises to be a conflicted locker room for the last two weeks of the season. Carr’s a well-liked player and longtime Raiders leader. He’s also struggled this season while leading the NFL with 14 interceptions.
He’s regressed while playing for McDaniels, who arrived in Las Vegas as an offensive guru. The first-year Raiders coach will face intense pressure to produce next season after falling short of expectations in 2022. He and general manager Dave Ziegler can’t afford to get this decision wrong.
A disappointing regular season has suddenly morphed into what promises to be a dramatic and potentially chaotic offseason in Las Vegas.