How Derek Carr became the Raiders' first franchise QB since Rich Gannon

Does Carr deserve massive payday? (1:20)

Jemele Hill is happy Derek Carr is getting an extension, but isn't sure he deserves to be one of the game's highest-paid players. (1:20)

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Questions? Yeah, there were a few.

Sure, Derek Carr lit up the Mountain West Conference, but in his two biggest college games at Fresno State as a senior -- against San Jose State in the regular-season finale and against USC in the Las Vegas Bowl -- Carr faltered.


In the 62-52 loss to San Jose State, Carr was outplayed by David Fales, and the defeat cost Fresno State a spot in a BCS bowl game. In the 45-20 beating he endured against unranked USC, he had 24 incompletions, and they seemingly sent his draft stock plummeting.

And then, there was the name.

Rightly or wrongly. Fairly or unfairly. Carr had to deal with comparisons to older brother David, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2002 draft by the Houston Texans, also out of Fresno State, who had washed out to become more journeyman quarterback than franchise bedrock. Even if he played behind one of the worst offensive lines in NFL history, if not the worst.

So after Blake Bortles was selected third overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2014 NFL draft, and Johnny Manziel went to the Cleveland Browns at No. 22, and Teddy Bridgewater landed with the Minnesota Vikings at No. 32, the Texans seemed ready to strike with the first pick of the second round, 33rd overall.

The younger Carr would atone for the elder's sins, real and perceived, right?

Meh ... the Texans went with a guard, UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo.

Recounting the memory three-plus years later, Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie grinned a Cheshire cat grin.

Because, yeah, you could say Carr merely fell into the Raiders' lap when he slipped to them three picks later in that 2014 draft. Then again, some of the best draft moves are the ones that are not made.

A year earlier, the Raiders were zeroing in on USC quarterback Matt Barkley early in the fourth round, where they held the No. 100 overall selection. Finally, as the script played over and over, again and again, the Raiders would find their franchise quarterback in the draft.

This odyssey would have made Homer blush.

Consider: Since Rich Gannon suffered a broken neck on Sept. 26, 2004 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 15 men had started under center for the Raiders, with none tasting the success that Gannon, the 2002 NFL MVP, enjoyed in Oakland.

Kerry Collins went 7-21 from 2004 to '05, while Marques Tuiasosopo was 0-1 in 2005. Aaron Brooks was 0-8 in 2006, and Andrew Walter (2006 and 2008) and Josh McCown (2007) were each 2-7.

Daunte Culpepper, who was supposed to tutor JaMarcus Russell, went 2-4 in 2007. Russell, the biggest bust in NFL history as the No. 1 pick of the 2007 draft, went 7-18 from 2007 to '09.

Bruce Gradkowski was 3-5 in 2009 and 2010, and Charlie Frye was 1-2 in 2009.

At least Jason Campbell had a winning record, going 11-7 in 2010 and 2011 before a headfirst slide broke his collarbone and ended his run. Kyle Boller lost his lone start, in 2011. That ushered in the star-crossed eras of Carson Palmer (8-16 in 2011 and '12) and Terrelle Pryor (3-7 in 2012 and '13).

Then came Matt Flynn, who was supposed to be the savior but went 0-1 in 2013, and Matt McGloin, who was 1-5 that same season.

Barkley? The Philadelphia Eagles traded two picks in front of the Raiders to draft him in the 2013 draft, and Oakland responded by trading down and taking Arkansas' Tyler Wilson at 112, but he never took a regular-season snap. Barkley never started a game in Philadelphia, spent time on the Arizona Cardinals' roster, and started six games for the Chicago Bears last season, going 1-5. He signed with the San Francisco 49ers this offseason.

So as free agency dawned in 2014, the Raiders' wish list of veterans looked like this: (1) Matt Schaub, (2) Mark Sanchez and (3) Michael Vick. The Raiders picked up Schaub from the Texans in a trade and then-Oakland coach Dennis Allen immediately anointed Schaub the starter.

Except ...

A month later, Carr fell into their laps, and the future was realized as Oakland finally got its franchise quarterback.

"I'll tell you what, from the outset when we drafted him, before he got here, we were extremely excited that he was still sitting there at 36," McKenzie said. "Let's put that out there right now. The rookie minicamp, I think my son could have figured that one out: 'Man, he can throw, daddy.'

"It was easy to see early. We knew the type of person we were getting in the draft process. Put it together and it was pretty [clear] early. Very early."

Carr essentially won the job with a standout preseason performance against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, and Schaub never started a game for Oakland. Rather, he has played for four teams in the past four seasons.

And despite starting his career 0-10, Carr has owned the Raiders' locker room from the day he walked in and settled the constant upheaval that had wreaked havoc through the organization since Gannon called his last play. Carr's value to the team was painfully obvious in December when he was lost with a broken right fibula in Week 16 and -- with McGloin and Connor Cook starting in Carr's place -- the Raiders fell in Denver and then in Houston in their first playoff appearance since Gannon helped lead Oakland to the Super Bowl after the 2002 season.

Despite missing the regular-season finale, Carr tied for third in NFL MVP voting. He passed for 3,937 yards with 28 TD passes and six interceptions, and he set an NFL record with five game-winning touchdown passes in the fourth quarter or overtime last season.

Oh, and Carr broke the pinkie finger on his passing hand in Week 12. The Raiders were outscored by a combined 62-20 after Carr went down with the broken leg.

Carr, who is 22-15 since that 0-10 start, on Friday signed the richest contract in league history: $125 million over five years. This is the natural progression of things for a franchise quarterback.

"My No. 1 goal is to make sure that I give everything that I have to this organization," Carr said. "There's no, 'We'll be on the 1-yard line and I won't give it to Marshawn [Lynch]; I'll throw it."

Carr laughed.

"I don’t care about the stats," he added. "That's not my No. 1 objective. I don’t care if I throw [only] 10 touchdowns next year. If we win every game, that's all I care about.

"It's more than just a team to me; it's family."

Any more questions?