As the 2019 season drew to a close, many saw the steps Raiders tight end Derek Carrier made to potentially find a longer-lasting home with the Silver and Black. By no means, Carrier intended to take anyone’s job. However, he certainly showed his ability to contribute.
Carrier’s season failed to excite, as he would record 13 catches for 108 yards. As a result, many people still recognized him as the hero from the 2018 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Although Carrier’s 2019 season totals compared to a decent game for starting tight end Darren Waller, the 2020 Raiders showed how significant having (or not having) a capable, second-string tight end can be.
In a mind-twisting, wall-punch-inducing strategy, the Raiders determined Jason Witten needed to play. This significantly reducing the growth and progression of Carrier and second-year tight end Foster Moreau. Carrier’s 13-for-108 statline in the 2019 season was reduced to 1-for-14. Meanwhile Moreau’s 21-for-174 in 2019 fell to 7-for-140 in favor of Witten’s 13-for-69.
With the complication of a third tight end competing for a backup spot, comparisons can emerge. Both 2019 Carrier and 2020 Witten recorded 13 receptions. With equal catches, Carrier led Witten by 39 yards. The most crushing part of giving Witten a chunk of both Carrier and Moreau’s snaps was that the trend carried into the red zone. Ironically, the play Carrier is most well known for was the Raiders’ biggest offensive struggles: redzone scores.
Moreau is an incredible athlete who has yet to tap into his full potential while Carrier is reliable and difficult to cover. With the opening of the backup red zone tight end position, both should see decent looks in the red zone.
As long as Darren Waller is in Las Vegas, there will not be a change at tight end on the Raiders depth chart. But, the second spot will be highly contested. At the moment, Moreau is slated to fill Witten’s role, hopefully with a bit of Carrier sprinkled in.
As a player entering his third year, Moreau will most likely draw a good amount of focus from the coaching staff, as he can still be molded into what is best. Carrier, on the other hand, has been in the league for eight years and will be 31 at the start of the 2021 season, meaning the team most likely has a very good idea on who he is and will be as a player. Going forward in 2021, it will be a nice change to be relieved in the times the team takes the field with two tight ends at Derek Carr’s disposal. Quality backups can win games.