Derek Carr to meet with Carolina Panthers, source confirms

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers will meet with free agent quarterback Derek Carr this week at the NFL scouting combine, a league source confirmed to ESPN.

Carr, who is expected to arrive Tuesday in Indianapolis, already has visited the New Orleans Saints and New York Jets this offseason. The four-time Pro Bowler will meet again in Indianapolis with representatives from both the Saints and Jets.

The Panthers have been linked to Carr since the nine-year veteran was released earlier this month by the Las Vegas Raiders, but a league source told ESPN last week that Carolina did not plan to strongly pursue Carr immediately. The source added that Carolina could potentially show interest if Carr didn't sign quickly with one of his primary suitors and he lowered his asking price for a new contract.

Panthers coach Frank Reich, when asked last week about Carolina potentially meeting with Carr, said he was "not ready to discuss the specifics" of the organization's plan at quarterback because he was still holding internal staff meetings.

Jets general manager Joe Douglas confirmed he will attend New York's next meeting with Carr and said the Jets would "be ready to make a decision when the time comes."

"I don't want to speak for Derek, but obviously this is the first time that he's been a free agent in his pro career," Douglas said Tuesday. "And being around him and seeing how smart a person he is, I know he's gonna be thorough with his process to make sure that him and his family end up in the right destination for them.

"So we're gonna respect his process and then we'll be ready to make a decision when the time comes."

The Panthers have only two quarterbacks -- 2022 third-round draft pick Matt Corral and journeyman Jacob Eason -- currently under contract, and neither of them have started a game in the NFL. Corral missed his rookie season after suffering a preseason foot injury, and Eason has appeared in only just NFL games.

Carolina would like to add a veteran quarterback to the mix in addition to possibly using the ninth pick of the draft -- or trading up in the draft for a quarterback -- as a long-term solution at the position.

ESPN's Dianna Russini recently reported that Carr is seeking at least $35 million annually. That may be too high of a number, however, for the Panthers, who would be more interested in Carr if his asking price dropped, according to a league source.

Carolina ranks in the bottom half of the NFL in salary cap space but can create room by releasing or renegotiating the contracts of several veterans. Most notably, linebacker Shaq Thompson has a $24,463,333 million cap hit in 2023 that can be reduced to $13.1 million if released.

Carr's strong religious faith could play a factor in the Panthers' interest. Reich has a master's in divinity and served a Charlotte church prior to getting into coaching in 2006 as an intern with the Indianapolis Colts.

Carr was released by the Raiders on Feb. 14 after declining to waive his no trade clause and just before more than $40 million of his contract would have become guaranteed. Set to turn 32 on March 28, he holds most of the Raiders' franchise passing records, throwing for more than 4,000 yards in four of the past five seasons.

ESPN's Rich Cimini contributed to this report.