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Oakland Raiders, stick with Derek Carr over drafting a QB

Hey, Raiders! Stop flirting with quarterbacks.

You don't need one. Don't spring for trips to meet up with them. Don't take them out to dinner. And for real, you might want to stop posting photos of Kyler Murrayon your social media platforms. Because it looks like somebody has noticed.

Yep, you've been caught stealing a glimpse of one of those passing quarterbacks like that poor kid in that internet meme. You can try to say it never hurts to look, but it obviously does. And now you really need to get your (stuff) together, because your quarterback of the future is your quarterback of the present: Derek Carr.

You remember him? The guy you signed to a big-money deal after he threw for nearly 4,000 yards with 28 touchdowns and just six interceptions in the 2016 season? That guy is still pretty good -- he's not the kind of player you just cut or give away. The salary cap implications alone (there is $34.9 million in dead money left on his deal, per Over The Cap) are daunting.

OK, so in 2018, Carr was at the helm for the fourth losing season of his five-year career. And I don't want to gloss over that. But let's review the circumstances he was facing. He got a new head coach in Jon Gruden (the third of his career), which meant he had to learn another system. The Raiders' offensive line ranked in the bottom five of the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. He was also sacked 51 times (third in the NFL). Receiver Michael Crabtree was released last offseason, while Amari Cooper was traded away in October. Oakland's leading rusher was Doug Martin, who posted 723 yards on 172 carries.

And despite all of that, Carr threw for a career-high 4,049 yards and completed 68.9 percent of his passes (fifth in the NFL) last season. He had just 19 touchdown passes, but he didn't turn the ball over much, logging just 10 interceptions on 553 attempts. His 1.8 percent interception rate was his lowest since (you guessed it) 2016.

So, no, 2018 was not a great year for Carr. But given the duress he was under, it might as well have been vintage Dan Marino.

But Rank, you say, Kyler Murray is Kyler Murray. Yes, he would be an exciting option! Especially in light of the Raiders' upcoming move to Las Vegas. I'll even concede that I had a fever dream where you, the Raiders, traded for Antonio Brown (this happened), signed Le'Veon Bell (this did not) and then drafted Murray. But that just can't come to fruition.

Murray is going first overall. I'm not saying he's definitely going to the Cardinals, who currently hold the No. 1 pick, but if he's not picked by Arizona, some team is going to move up to the top spot to grab him. For you to get into that position, you'd have to give up (at least) two of your first-round draft picks. Why would you do that? You parted ways with Cooper and Khalil Mack (thank you, by the way, as a Bears fan) to bolster your team. Don't ruin it now for a position that's not a need. You need a pass rusher, cornerback, receiver, linebacker, tight end and safety, among other things.

Don't. Draft. A. Quarterback.

But, you might say, how much harm is there in burning a pick or two on one? A lot, actually. What good would it do to draft Drew Lock, to name a guy I've seen mocked to the Raiders in recent weeks? You want to add the Blaine Gabbert of 2019 just for the sake of getting a quarterback? That might seem harsh, but it's meant to. Because this draft is starting to look an awful lot like the one in 2011, when Cam Newton was the first overall selection. The quarterbacks who were drafted after him? Jake Locker (79.0 passer rating in four seasons), Gabbert (71.7 passer rating in eight seasons) and Christian Ponder (75.9 passer rating in four seasons).

Think of what drafting someone would do to your quarterback room. Carr would play half the season looking over his shoulder. The fans would cry for the new quarterback at the first sign of trouble. Then you do the game where you give the rookie a chance, he flops, and you have to go back to Carr. Only his confidence is now shot. And you've done nothing but waste a huge opportunity.

Because if I'm being honest (not like I wasn't before), I'm kind of into what the Raiders have done thus far. Antonio Brown is one of the best football players on the planet, still. Even at age 30. He showed up to Derek's kid's birthday party and brought a cake. Sure, it was a vegan cake. For himself. But dude brought a cake. Carr and Brown have developed a huge bromance since then, apparently spending nearly every day throwing the football together and getting on the same page.

Oakland also signed receiver Tyrell Williams, which was a low-key great move. Isaiah Crowell was brought into the mix as well. And let me tell you, the Crow plays. Crowell trailed just Nick Chubb and Derrick Henry in yards gained after close last year, according to Next Gen Stats.

So, again: Don't. Draft. A. Quarterback.

And with Murray going first overall, you will at least be guaranteed a chance to land a defensive stud like Josh Allen, Ed Oliver, Quinnen Williams or Nick Bosa at the No. 4 spot. (If we want to go full conspiracy, perhaps the Raiders could get a QB-needy team to move up to the four-spot and grab even more picks. Who knows?)

Oakland needs to go for this. Because even if the worst happens, and Carr struggles again for the Raiders this season despite the infusion of talent, the team that will soon hail from Las Vegas will still have two first-round picks with which to get a quarterback next year, thanks to the Mack trade.

But it's not going to come to that. Carr is going to be your guy.

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @AdamRank.

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