A free agent for the first time in his career, Derek Carr explored every possible option with an open mind and asked lots of questions. He didn’t want to have any doubts whatsoever when he made his decision.
Carr eventually reached the point where the pull he was feeling toward New Orleans was too strong. The four-time Pro Bowler told his agent it was time: He wanted to be a Saint.
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“They made it very clear how they felt,” Carr said in his introductory press conference Saturday. “They were honest. They told us the truth about the organization. They didn’t try to make anything seem like it wasn’t. I think that’s what meant the most to me was it was just honesty from the beginning.”
Carr announced his decision on social media last week, signing a four-year deal reportedly worth up to $150 million.
Who dat ⚜️ pic.twitter.com/DIY8gBGuGu
— Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) March 6, 2023
The Saints had discussions with the Las Vegas Raiders about trading for Carr before the Raiders released him, but he had a no-trade clause and didn’t want to accept a trade without being able to speak to every team that might be interested in his services.
Carr on what it meant to him that the #Saints were willing to trade for him pic.twitter.com/VufAR2Y7w0
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) March 11, 2023
Though the trade never materialized, the Saints’ aggressiveness made a strong impression on Carr.
“To feel wanted like that is nice,” he said. “For someone to see the value that you can possibly bring to their organization and to their city and to their locker room, that means something.”
Another advantage New Orleans had in its pursuit of Carr was head coach Dennis Allen, who was the Raiders’ head coach when they drafted Carr in 2014. The 31-year-old started 142 of a possible 146 games in nine seasons with the Raiders, leading them to the playoffs twice. He threw for 3,522 yards and 24 touchdowns in 15 games in 2022.
One on One with Derek Carr on his welcome to New Orleans ⚜️
By @ErinESummers | #Saints pic.twitter.com/ZhgIhtlIZ9
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) March 13, 2023
His exit from Las Vegas was a messy one as he stepped away from the team after being benched for the final two games of last season. Speaking at ChurchLV in January, Carr said plenty of people around him wanted to point fingers and assign blame for the way things ended. He had a different idea.
“Instead, I said, ‘Lord, what is it that You’re trying to reveal to me in this season? Lord, what is it that You’re trying to do in my heart in this season?’” he said. “Patience? Forgiveness? Do they deserve it? Doesn’t matter. He didn’t ask me if they deserve it. That wasn’t on the agenda for me. The agenda for me was just ‘forgive.’ The agenda for me was just ‘have peace.’”
“I’ve walked through these times with an absolute peace and a grace that’s covered me.”
QB Derek Carr sharing on Saturday night 1/14 at a church in Las Vegas pic.twitter.com/1pF5OQIVBa
— Sports Spectrum (@Sports_Spectrum) January 15, 2023
Carr, who nearly gave up his NFL career to become a pastor, explained in his Saints press conference how faith is the foundation of everything his family does.
“I’m not gonna sit up here and throw Bibles at everybody, but I do have faith and I do believe,” he said Saturday. “That’s how we raise our children, and that’s what the basis of our marriage is on. I love my wife because of the way that I am loved and how I learned that love.”
As Carr tries to get the Saints back into the playoffs after posting a 16-18 record over the past two seasons, he also intends to serve the community he now represents. He had conversations with former Saints legend Drew Brees and the Manning family to get a better feel for the organization and the city of New Orleans.
When asked about community involvement, Carr talked about his desire to simply love people well.
“We just try and always be open to that and what the Lord is saying to us on how to help that community and just love the people of New Orleans,” he said. “My faith is No. 1. That’ll never change no matter what, good or bad. And then my family and then football. And I love all three a lot.”
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