Raiders establish renaissance era with Carr extension

Posted: 27/06/2017 in NFL, Sports
Tags: , , , , , ,

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Three years ago, it was difficult to envision the Oakland Raiders as anything but the laughingstocks of the NFL. Mired in a decade-plus playoff drought, the Raiders lost the cache that once made them one of the marquee franchises.

The trajectory of a franchise can change drastically in three years, however, and the Raiders climbed out of the rubble when they selected Khalil Mack and Derek Carr with their first- and second-round picks in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Carr was rewarded with a five-year, $125-million contract Thursday, making him the highest-paid player in the NFL. By extending him to a deal that makes him the envy of the league, the Raiders have officially established their renaissance era, and are bound to compete for Super Bowls through the end of the decade – a notion that seemed impossible not long ago.

Carr was in the thick of the MVP race before suffering a season-ending broken fibula on Christmas Eve. The Raiders’ season effectively ended when he went down, as they bowed out to the Houston Texans in the wild-card round with Connor Cook under center. Nonetheless, it became evident to any neutral observer that this wasn’t just a one-off campaign from Carr, who is atop the vanguard of young quarterbacks, which includes Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, and Carson Wentz.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie deserves a ton of credit for inking Carr to a lucrative extension before it became a distraction for a young team that has arguably the best shot at unseating New England in the AFC. It was under McKenzie’s leadership that the Raiders drafted Mack and Carr in the first place, adding standout wide receiver Amari Cooper in 2015 and safety Karl Joseph in 2016. Carr, McKenzie, and head coach Jack Del Rio have cultivated the type of relationship that often leads to titles, and one would be remiss if the latter duo’s contributions went unnoticed on a triumphant day for the organization.

It was imperative the Raiders lock Carr in before the franchise relocates to Las Vegas, a city that lacks a true professional team sporting culture. With the QB secured long term, the team can waltz into Vegas’ glitz and glamour with the quarterback’s visage plastered all over billboards in The Entertainment Capital of the World. For the venture to be successful, the Raiders will need to be a Super Bowl contender, and establishing Carr as the team’s franchise player goes a long way toward these mutual goals.

Carr has been named to consecutive Pro Bowls, but he’s never been content with individual honors. Armed with a wide receiver duo in Cooper and Michael Crabtree that rivals any in the league, a veteran running back in Marshawn Lynch, and an excellent offensive line, he’s expected to lead the Raiders deep into the playoffs. Demanding a Lombardi Trophy within the decade is now a reasonable goal. In signing the most expensive contract in NFL history, the signal-caller represents everything the team aspires to be: a young, talented offense paired with a bruising defense that ought to contend with no end in sight. If there’s any team suited to dethrone the Patriots as the AFC’s dominant force, it’s the Raiders, with Carr and Mack being the faces of the franchise.

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