McDaniels doesn’t call losing Carr, Waller a rebuild; is excited about Raiders direction

Mar 27, 2023, 2:00 PM

Darren Waller #83 of the Las Vegas Raiders kneels on the field after their loss to the Pittsburgh S...

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 24: Darren Waller #83 of the Las Vegas Raiders kneels on the field after their loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images)

(Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images)

When a team loses it’s longtime quarterback and trades away its star tight end, fans might see those moves as a rebuild. But that’s not how Josh McDaniels would call the Raiders’ offseason moves.

With two weeks remaining in the 2022 season, the Las Vegas Raiders made the surprising decision to bench long-time starter Derek Carr. The Raiders drafted Carr in 2014 and he then went on to start 142 games for the Silver and Black. Over his nine years as the team’s starter, he threw for a franchise-leading 35,222 passing yards and finished with 62-78 record. He technically made the playoffs twice, but the first appearance he did not play because he was injured by the time the postseason rolled around.

The benching eventually led to Carr being released by the Raiders. Not long after, he signed with the New Orleans Saints.

Before the start of last season, Darren Waller and the Raiders agreed to a three-year contract extension. The extension included $51 million in new money. However, the tight end only played in nine games for the Raiders in 2022, limited by injuries throughout the season. Days into the free agency period, the Raiders traded Waller to the New York Giants, a move that surprised the tight end.

McDaniels, who spoke to the NFL Network during the Annual League Meeting in Phoenix on Monday, said trading Darren was tough, but it gave the team an opportunity to get younger.

“Honestly, it was looking at the whole complexion of the roster of where we’re at, felt like we had an opportunity after discussing it with [general manager] Dave [Ziegler] to get younger and add another draft pick in the draft in the top 100 and use some of that money that we would have paid Darren to pay Jakobi [Meyers] and start working towards some other things,” McDaniels said.

With those moves, the coach says he’s excited about the direction the team is headed.

“We know a lot more now than we did 12 months ago,” McDaniels said. “So, I think for us, we were excited about where we’re at currently. But we also know that there’s work to be done here going forward, particularly in the draft, and to do a good job of putting people that fit the type of football we want to play; tough, smart, win up front as best we can on both sides of the ball. We need to get more explosive as a football team. We were in a lot of close games. And so, when you look at those close games, there’s a chance to win them. And so, what are the things we need to do to try to get over the hump? Well, that’s why we’re trying to make some of the decisions we’re making and why we have such an eye towards the future of the draft to see if we can make our team younger, tougher, more explosive as a group with some players that are under contract for a while.”

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