Derek Carr has signed a four-year deal worth a reported $150 million, including $100 guaranteed with the Saints. So the question is, will he find more success in the second stop of his career after an up-and-down nine seasons with the Raiders?
To answer that question, I look to Matthew Stafford, whose Lions career mirrored Carr's Raiders career.
Here's my case for and against Carr following in Stafford's footsteps, who won a Super Bowl in his first season with the Rams after leaving Detroit.
The case for this comparison is built on the striking similarities between Stafford's time with the Lions and Carr's with the Raiders.
Both are franchise leaders
Both are those respective franchise's all-time passing leaders. Stafford is the Lions' all-time touchdown passes leader, among nearly every other category, and the same can be said for Carr with the Raiders.
0 playoff wins/division titles
Despite racking up numbers for their teams for roughly a decade, neither won a playoff game or won a division title with their original teams. Stafford was 0-3 in the postseason with Detroit, which constantly took a back seat to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the division.
Carr was 0-1 in the playoffs with Las Vegas, which had to compete with the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes in the AFC West.
Worst defense in NFL
The Lions and Raiders had two of the worst defenses in the league with those quarterbacks. Detroit had the second-worst scoring defense with Stafford from 2009-2020. The Raiders had the worst scoring defense in the NFL from 2014-22 with Carr. In fact, Carr is the least supported QB in NFL history in terms of scoring defense. The Raiders allowed 26.2 PPG in his starts, the worst for any starting QB all time (min. 100 starts).
2022 was the Raiders' 20th straight season ranking in the bottom half of the league in scoring defense, the longest streak of its kind since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.
Most losses in NFL
Bad defense will do this to you. Carr has the most losses of any QB since entering the league. Stafford had the second-most losses of any QB during his Lions career (2009-20).
Both led NFL in fourth-quarter comebacks
Stafford and Carr have always been good for a thrilling comeback thanks to productive careers coupled with defenses that rarely let them run away with a lead. Stafford led the NFL in fourth-quarter comebacks during his Lions career and Carr topped the league in that category with the Raiders.
The cast against Carr? He isn't as good of a QB as Stafford, who also landed in a better situation.
Stafford is a better overall QB than Carr
Stafford was the No. 1 overall pick in 2009 and Carr was a second-round selection in 2014. Stafford has more arm talent, enough so that the Rams were willing to give two first-round picks to acquire him (and offload Jared Goff's contract) in 2021.
Coaches and executives around the league would agree Stafford is better than Carr, but not by much.
Stafford ranked slightly ahead of Carr in both the 2021 and 2022 annual QB Tiers piece by Mike Sando of The Athletic. The tiers are results from a poll of GMs, coaches and executives throughout the league.
Stafford also ranked sixth in both of ESPN Jeremy Fowler's top-10 QB rankings in 2021 and 2022, which are derived from a survey of 50-plus league executives, coaches and scouts. Carr was an honorable mention in both years, but didn't crack the top 10.
The numbers would agree, too. Carr has never ranked higher than 10th in ESPN's Total QBR in nine seasons with the Raiders. His average rank was 19th. Stafford's average QBR rank with the Lions was 15th and he was top eight in three of his last five seasons in Detroit.
Last offseason proved the Stafford blueprint isn't easy to follow
Acquiring a veteran quarterback was the hot new blueprint last offseason after Tom Brady won a Super Bowl in 2020, and Matthew Stafford won in 2021. The performance of Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz and Baker Mayfield have proved that it's not such an easy act to repeat.
Carr may not find his Saints landing spot to be like the Rams
When Stafford signed with the Rams he was viewed as the missing piece that would be an upgrade over Goff, two years after they lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. Los Angeles had a No. 1 defense and Cooper Kupp, among other attractive pieces. The Jets are the closest QB needy team to that Rams team, but Carr instead signed with the Saints. They have attractive weapons in Chris Olave and Alvin Kamara, plus an above average defense, but this is not like Stafford going to the Rams. The Rams had 12-1 Super Bowl odds before the 2021 season. The Saints currently have 30-1 title odds after signing Carr at Caesars Sportsbook.
Add it all up, and as similar as their careers with the Lions and Raiders were, respectively, it would take a lot for the stars to align for Carr like they did for Stafford. The more likely scenario is Carr wins his first career playoff game with the Saints, a team that plays in the weakest division in the NFL.