Tom Brady to Raiders? Derek Carr’s benching revs up rumors of reunion with Josh McDaniels

The Raiders have benched starting quarterback Derek Carr for the final two weeks of the 2022 NFL season, the end of his first year under coach Josh McDaniels. McDaniels will turn to Jarrett Stidham against the 49ers and Chiefs.

With Carr suddenly sitting in favor of a QB who played for McDaniels in New England, that should only heat up the speculation that McDaniels is eyeing a reunion with another former Patriot — Tom Brady.

Brady will be a free agent after the 2022 season and is expected to explore playing for a new team in 2023 instead of retiring as a Buccaneer. Returning to New England or going to hometown San Francisco has been the popular speculation, but Las Vegas is a hotter spot now.

MORE: Why did the Raiders bench Derek Carr? Offseason trade rumors might explain surprise pivot

The 49ers are getting fine play from rookie seventh-rounder Brock Purdy filling in for injured pending free agent Jimmy Garoppolo, and they still have high hopes for injured Trey Lance, the third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Patriots may not be ready to break from Mac Jones, and they also could consider what rookie fourth-rounder Bailey Zappe can do.

Why are the Raiders benching Derek Carr in Week 17?

Carr’s benching is a firm indication that the Raiders are looking to replace him with a real upgrade. The reasoning for sitting him now, per multiple reports, is to preserve him for a potential offseason trade.

Trading Carr is in the Raiders’ best financial interest. They would get draft-pick compensation in return and get out of his contract with just $5.625 million in dead money. They’d save $29.25 million toward the salary cap.

MORE: Jets, Colts among best landing spots for Derek Carr if Raiders trade him in 2023

The Raiders would then have plenty of money under the cap to give Brady his desired one-year deal. Las Vegas should be aggressive in pursuing him, given that he can quickly flip it into a playoff team with a supporting cast of Davante Adams, Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow and Josh Jacobs.

Much like Tampa Bay in 2020, a Brady arrival in Vegas would force general manager Dave Ziegler, the former Patriots director of player personnel, to cater to him. Zielger will have ample financial resources and draft capital (11 picks) under Mark Davis to upgrade the offensive line and defense.

There’s a great parallel to Buccaneers GM Jason Licht — another former Patriots director of player personnel — building a Super Bowl champion-caliber team around Brady.

MORE: Tom Brady’s best fits for 2023: Raiders, Patriots, 49ers among top landing spots

Brady made a fine adjustment to the offense of Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich. There will be no such transition period with McDaniels.

Brady also embraced the challenge of battling future Hall of Fame contemporaries Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees in the NFC. In the AFC, he’ll get a chance to prove he’s still got it against young guns Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Josh Allen and Joe Burrow.

Brady’s presence would make the Raiders a very attractive destination for top free agents. No would be surprised if tight end Rob Gronkowski comes back to ride with Brady again for a real last time.

MORE: ‘Bored’ Gronk had teams abuzz when he contacted Bucs about possible return in ’22

The Raiders have hit their hard ceiling with Carr. It makes sense for them to make sure the GOAT is aware that they’re in the market for a new starter in 2023. It will be hard for other teams to offer the same appeal as McDaniels and a team that’s on the brink of a breakthrough like the Bucs were three years ago.

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