Catherine TerrellESPN staff writer7 minutes to read
New Orleans, Los Angeles – New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr is ready to reinvent himself.
The Saints introduced Carr in a 45-minute press conference on Saturday. Carr sat next to Saints coach Dennis Allen, with his family and the Saints front office in attendance. He talked about his nine-year tenure with the Las Vegas Raiders, how the Saints convinced him to join their team and what’s next.
What’s next could include throwing a pass to wide receiver Michael Thomas.
Thomas and the Saints looked like they might be heading for a breakup after they restructured his deal in January. But Carr, who spoke to Thomas extensively throughout the free agency process, spoke as if he expected to be a teammate with the 2019 Offensive Player of the Year.
Carr said he and Thomas grew closer because of their conversations on the phone. He even told Saints general manager Mickey Loomis after one of those conversations that he felt they could “get out there and face the world.”
He added, “When he started recruiting and talking to me, he wasn’t even trying to recruit me, he was like, ‘When are we going to start working?'” We’re wasting time, and time is running out.” I was like, “Dude, I’m the same way. We’ll get there.” But I think our relationship has grown in the process, and I’m looking forward to making that relationship even stronger.”
Carr will also play Saints tight end Juwan Johnson, the restricted free agent who scored seven touchdowns for the Saints in 2022. The team announced Saturday that they have signed him to a new two-year contract.
Separating from the raiders, however, was not an easy process for Karr.
“It’s hard because I love a lot of the people there. At the same time, it’s a breath of fresh air,” he said.
Carr admitted he’d be lying if he tried to say he didn’t have a chip on his shoulder after things ended, as he walked away from the team for the last two games of the season due to an inevitable parting in the future.
He said that this ending triggered the competitive edge in him. He couldn’t promise that it was former Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who was one of the former players, along with Peyton and Archie Manning, who reached out to guide him through the decision-making process.
Carr also could not promise to win, but he said he could promise that he would give it his all.
And he said “I just go in and show my work ethic, prove it again…” I understood the business side of it and why things were happening, all of that. I mean, I get it. But it hurts. For me as a competitor, I wanted to finish with my teammates. … kindled the fire in me, that you always had, but made it hot. It gave me such excitement.”
He also thanked the raiders for choosing him in the second round of the 2014 draft.
“It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t say thank you,” Carr said. “I had nine wonderful years there, lots of great memories, lots of hard times, lots of fun times, lots of kids since those days. And Mr. Davis and the Raiders, thank you. If they see this, I have to tell them something because I won’t be there.” without him “.
Carr has made it clear he’s ready to move on following a nearly month-long free agency process following his release from the Raiders on February 14. Allen joked on Saturday that Carr makes faster decisions on the field than he does off the field.
“He took a long time in the process,” Allen said, smiling. “But we’re obviously glad he’s there.”
The New York Jets was one of the other teams involved in the process, and the Carolina Panthers, who recently made a deal to secure the first pick in the 2023 draft, were another.
But the Saints already had a leg up on the competition because of Carr’s longtime relationship with Allen, who was coaching the Raiders when they took Carr in the second round of the 2014 draft. Allen also made the decision to start Carr as a starter.
Although Allen was fired four games that season, the two have maintained a relationship since those days.
“DA, how I feel about this guy, I hope I’m sitting here telling you what you think of him and the opportunity,” Carr said Saturday. “You gave me my first chance, every time we’ve all played since we haven’t been on the same team, I’ll always tell you thank you. Even in the pre-match press conference.” [last fall], I would like to say that I have always been grateful to the DA for giving me the opportunity. He trusted me with the keys to the organization, to be that quarterback there for nine years. … We’re just getting started and it’s all in the past.”
Allen and the Saints would not accept any answer. He said the Saints were the first team to approach Carr once the Raiders gave him permission to seek a potential trade, and they were by far the most persistent.
Carr said his phone was “exploding” daily with constant texts and calls from the Saints, who were determined to make him the quarterback of the future.
“I don’t think he’s just a veteran quarterback. I think he’s the veteran player we wanted,” Allen said. “I don’t know there was that thing that, well, we have to go out and find any veteran quarterback. We wanted to find the quarterback we wanted. Like I said before, we clearly identified that Derrick was our number one goal and we [went] And they took him out.”
Carr added: “There was no doubt before [their side]. …they explained how they felt. They were honest. They told us the reality of the organization and didn’t try to make anything seem like it wasn’t, which I think is what cares most about. He was just honest from the start. And there were other teams that said certain things and said similar things and all that. But at the end of the day, they go out first, try the trade, all those kinds of things and you, to start valuing that, to feel desirable, again, it’s nice for someone to see the value you can bring to their organization, to their city, to their locker room their clothes.”
The Saints were the only team Carr met while still a member of the Raiders, and hosted him and his wife for two days in New Orleans in early February. The trade ultimately did not happen after Carr, who had a no-trade clause in his deal with the Raiders, vetoed it.
On Saturday, he said the trade was actually closer than people think.
“I was very willing to accept the trade,” he said. “But I was only able to talk to one team. I was only allowed to talk to one team. And as much as I love and respect these guys, Dave and Josh in the Raiders, how can I make that decision when it’s only the time I’ve been in my career, or Can I be free? I can’t make this decision without being able to talk to other people. But I’m still on the verge of making the decision. I felt so much love here. Like, I’m still on the verge of doing this.
“But at the end of the day, I just felt like I knew when I sat here, I wanted to be able to look my kids in the eye, look my wife in the eye, and know that I did everything I could, I asked every question, I went through every process to make sure I tried to make the decision.” Best for our family, for us together. So, I wasn’t closed off about everything, which might have been shocking to some people. But I wasn’t closed off, I was willing to work, but I was only able to talk to the saints. But it worked.”
In the end, Carr ended up signing his four-year contract on Saturday. Sources tell ESPN the contract could be worth up to $150 million and include guarantees of up to $100 million. The deal likely won’t become official in a wire transfer until free agency begins next week, as the Saints still have several steps to go in order to become salary cap compliant for 2023. , who could become a free agent with Carr’s signature.
The deal also brings him full circle in reuniting with the man he helped recruit.
“I think that’s kind of how we hung up the phone when Derek called me Sunday night and said he wanted to come here and be the quarterback,” Allen said. “When we got off the phone it was like, ‘Hey, time to finish what we started.’ So I think it’s a great deal.”
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