Posted on June 22, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine

Oakland Raiders Derek Carr

Image via mercurynews.com

The NFL has a new highest paid player. It’s Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. The Raiders and Carr have finalized a contract extension for five years and $125 million. The deal will make him the highest-paid player in NFL history, surpassing Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

Reports that a deal between Carr and the Raiders first surfaced on Wednesday. By Thursday morning, the deal was complete. Carr himself announced that the contract had been finalized on Twitter.

The extension will keep Carr with the Raiders through at least the 2022 season. However, Carr has said in the past, and reiterated in his tweet on Thursday, that he’d like to stay with the Raiders for his entire career. This contract is a big step toward making that happen.

The record-setting $125 million deal comes with $70 million in total guarantees. The $25 million annual salary is the highest in the NFL. However, according to reports, the deal includes a “delayed cash flow” that could end up benefiting Carr in the long run.

The Raiders are planning to move to Las Vegas in 2020. Nevada has no income tax, whereas California does. Carr figures to receive less money over the next few seasons and more money toward the end of his contract. That will allow Carr to take full advantage of the Raiders moving to Las Vegas. That cash structure may also help the Raiders to re-sign some of their other budding, young stars, including wide receiver Amari Cooper and pass rusher Khalil Mack.

Carr is just three years into his career but has already amassed over 11,000 yards passing and 81 touchdowns. He firmly established himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL during the 2016 campaign. Carr was the catalyst in the Raiders going 12-4 and breaking a 14-year playoff drought. He was also entrenched in the conversation for league MVP before breaking his leg in Week 16.

That injury did not make the Raiders hesitant to sign Carr to a long-term deal. He’s been a full participant in all of the team’s offseason activities. Carr also confirmed during mini-camp last week that he’s healthy and eager to get back on the field in 2017.

“The hardest part was taking the first rep, because the last rep you remember was like, ‘Oh snap, I broke this thing,'” Carr said. “But as soon as the ball was snapped, it was a blessing. It kind of all went away.”

The mega-deal for Carr confirms that the Raiders believe they have found the right quarterback and are moving in the right direction. Based on last year’s 12-4 record under head coach Jack Del Rio in his second season in Oakland, it’s hard to argue against that.

The NFL is all about finding the right quarterback, committing to that quarterback, and building around that quarterback. Oakland appears to have accomplished the first two. Now the Raiders can focus on building a team around Carr. They already have receivers like Cooper and Michael Crabtree signed for the foreseeable future, providing Carr with playmakers at his disposal. The Oakland defense also features rising stars like Mack and safety Karl Joseph.

Exactly how long Carr remains the NFL’s highest paid player remains to be seen. His contract could have an impact on the types of deals Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins end up signing. However, the contract is a big deal for the Raiders, who have their quarterback of the future locked into a long-term deal. After years of futility, making a committment to Carr gives them a chance to keep moving in the right direction.

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