New Orleans, La. – New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr is ready to reinvent himself.
The Saints introduced Carr at 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 talks about his nine-year stint with the Las Vegas Raiders, how the Saints convinced him to join their team and what’s next.
What happens next could involve throwing a pass to wide receiver Michael Thomas.
Thomas and the Saints seemed headed for a breakup after they restructured their deal in January. But Carr, who talked extensively with Thomas during the free agency process, spoke as if he expected to be teammates with the 2019 offensive player.
Carr said that she and Thomas grew close because of phone conversations. He also told Saints general manager Mickey Loomis after one of those conversations that he thought the pair could “go out there and face the world.”
He said: “When he started recruiting and started talking to me, he wasn’t even trying to recruit me, he was just like, ‘When are we going to get to work? We’re wasting time. Time is passing.’ I was like, ‘Man, I’m like that too. We’ll get there.’ But I think our relationship has grown through this process, and I hope it grows even stronger.”
Carr will also play alongside Saints tight end Juwan Johnson, a restricted free agent who scored seven touchdowns for the Saints in 2022. The team announced on Saturday that it has signed him to a new two-year deal.
But breaking up with the Raiders hasn’t been an easy process for Carr.
“It’s tough because I love so many people out there. Plus it’s a breath of fresh air,” he said.
Carr admitted that he has a chip on his shoulder after the way things ended, with him being away from the Raiders for the final two games of the season due to the inevitable parting ways.
He said the ending woke up his competitive edge. That promise won’t be 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 did not promise victory, but promised that he would give it everything he had.
He said, “I just come in and show my work ethic, and really prove it again. … I didn’t plan or dream it to end like this. It definitely form.” “I understood the business side of it and why things were happening, all of that. I mean, I understood. But it hurt. For me as a competitor, I wanted to finish with my teammates. .. Me, which I always had, but it made it hot. It gave me this excitement.
He also thanked the Raiders for selecting him in the second round of the 2014 draft.
“I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t say thank you to them,” Carr said. “I had nine great years there, lots of good memories, lots of tough times, lots of fun times, lots of kids since those days. And Mr. Davis and the Raiders organization, thank you. If they see this, let me say something to them.” Because I wouldn’t be there without them.”
Carr made it clear that he was ready to move on after a free agency process that lasted nearly a month following his release from the Raiders on February 14.
Allen smiled, “He took a very long time in the process. But we’re obviously glad we have him.”
The New York Jets were one of the other teams involved in the process, and the Carolina Panthers, who made the trade on Friday to acquire the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft, were the other.
But the Saints already had a leg up on the competition due to Carr’s longtime relationship with Allen, who was coaching the Raiders when Carr was drafted. Allen started Carr as a rookie.
Although Allen was ejected four games into that season, the two have maintained a relationship since those days.
“DA, how I feel about this guy, hopefully I can sit here and tell you what I think about him and the opportunity,” Carr said Saturday. “You gave me my first chance, every time we played with you all since we were not on the same team, I will always say thank you. Even in the press conference till that game [last fall], I would say that I was always grateful to DA because they gave me the opportunity. He trusted me with the keys to an organization, to be the quarterback there for nine years. … We’re just getting started and all of that is a thing of the past.”
Allen and the Saints won’t take no for an answer. Saint was the first team to contact Carr as soon as the Raiders allowed him to explore a potential trade, and he was by far the most persistent, he said.
Carr said that his phone was “blowing up” daily with constant texts and calls from the Saints, who were determined to make him their quarterback.
“I don’t think it’s just a veteran quarterback. I think it’s the veteran quarterback we wanted,” Allen said. “I don’t know if it was, well, we had to go out and find some experienced quarterback. We wanted to find the quarterback we wanted. As I said before, we clearly identified that Derek was our No. 1. goal. and we [went] reached out and caught him.”
added Carr: “There was never any doubt [their side], … He made it very clear how he felt. He was honest. He told us the truth about the organization and he didn’t try and do anything he didn’t do, and I think that’s what most interest means. It was 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 came out first, they tried a trade, all that kind of stuff and you, to start weighing that, to feel that kind of need, again, that’s cool, somebody You can probably bring them into their organization, into their city, into their locker room to see the value of that.”
The Saints were the only team to meet Carr while he was still a member of the Raiders, hosting him and his wife for two days in New Orleans in early February. A trade ultimately did not happen after Carr, who had a no-trade clause in his deal with the Raiders, vetoed it.
But a trade was really close, Carr said.
“I was very willing to accept a trade,” he said. “But I was only able to talk to one team. I was only allowed to talk to one team. As much as I love and respect those guys at the Raiders, Dave and Josh, how could I make that decision?” That’s the only time in my career I’ve been, or could possibly be free? I couldn’t possibly make that decision without talking to other people. But I still almost made the decision. I felt so loved here Like, I’m still almost done.
“But at the end of the day, I felt like I knew that when I sat here, I wanted to look into my children’s eyes, look into my wife’s eyes, and know that I had used my power.” I did everything, I asked every question, I went through every process to make sure I tried to make the best decision for both of us, for our family. So, I wasn’t closed for what it might have been Was shocking to some people. But I wasn’t shut down, I was willing to work, but I was only able to talk to the Saints. But it worked.”
Ultimately, Carr signed his four-year deal on Saturday. Sources told ESPN that the contract could potentially be worth up to $150 million and include up to $100 million in guarantees. The deal won’t become official until the start of free agency next week, as the Saints still have several steps to take to become salary cap compliant for 2023. They also have a decision to make on former starting quarterback Jameis Winston, a free agent with Carr’s signing.
The deal brings Carr full circle in a reunion with Allen.
“I think when Derek called me on Sunday evening and said he wanted to come here and be quarterback, that’s how we got off the phone,” Allen said. “When we got off the phone it was like, ‘Hey, it’s time to finish what we started.’ So I think it’s a good deal.”