Derek Carr started 15 of 16 games last season for the Oakland Raiders, as we look back at the quarterback position group for the 2017 campaign.
During the 2016 NFL season, the Oakland Raiders got a breakout campaign from young quarterback Derek Carr. The team drafted Carr in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and immediately inserted him as their starting quarterback. From then, he has steadily grown into one of the better signal-callers in the game, and with new head coach Jon Gruden in place, the sky is really the limit.
The issue with that 2016 campaign was that Carr broke his leg on Christmas Eve, with the team in first place in the AFC West, and staring down a first-round bye in the AFC Playoffs. Last season, Carr broke his back against the Denver Broncos in Week 4, and had to deal with the injury the rest of the way. Oakland finished the season with a 6-10 record, a far cry from the 12-4 mark they achieved the year before, but they plan to turn the page in 2018.
Carr started 15 games for the Raiders last season, with his only missed start coming in Week 5 against the Baltimore Ravens. As stated above, Carr broke his back during the team’s Week 4 loss to the Denver Broncos, though he returned in Week 6. He might not have had the season many were thinking he would, as the entire team struggled, but he should be at 100 percent by the time the Raiders open up the 2018 season.
In total, Carr threw for nearly 3,500 yards, while connecting on 22 touchdown passes. He would go on to be named a Pro Bowler for the third consecutive season, and he passed the great Jim Plunkett for fourth place on the Raiders all-time passing yards list. Carr also passed Tom Flores for fifth place all-time on the Raiders passing touchdown list, as he continues to cement his legacy in franchise history.
Manuel was brought in to backup Carr during the offseason, and he actually appeared in three games last season. The 27-year old veteran had to come in during the team’s Week 4 loss to the Denver Broncos after Carr broke his back, and threw for 106 yards on 11-of-17 passing. He would go on to start in Week 5 against the Baltimore Ravens, throwing for 159 yards and a touchdown in a 30-17 loss.
Manuel is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, so he may not be back with the team in 2018. He has bounced around the league after being supplanted as the starter in Buffalo, and is a solid backup at this point in his career. Oakland may decide to go another route, but he should be able to get another gig if it is not with the Raiders next season.
Cook did not play a single snap in the regular season last season, after starting the team’s playoff game the year before. With Carr and Matt McGloin both injured, Cook had to start the team’s Wild Card Round game against the Houston Texans after the 2016 season. He threw for 161 yards and three interceptions in the game, and was relegated back to No. 3 duties this past offseason.
Gruden liked Cook when he was coming out of Michigan State, and he is locked up for another two years. He may actually get a chance to be the team’s No. 2 option in 2018, if the team decides that he has taken enough steps in his development to back up Carr. The 2017 season was one of learning for Cook, who definitely has the physical attributes to be a starter in this league before his career is done.
There is no doubt Carr will be under center when the Raiders kick off their season in September, but questions are still out there as to who will back him up. Sure, the team could bring back Manuel, or even promote Cook to the No. 2 spot, but it is a position group that needs solidifying this offseason. Carr should take a step forward under Gruden, as he looks to lead the Raiders back to the playoffs.