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Are the Saints favorites in the NFC South after signing Derek Carr? | You Pod to Win the Game

Yahoo Sports NFL writers Charles Robinson and Jori Epstein discuss Derek Carr’s deal with the New Orleans Saints, and debate if the Saints are now the runaway favorites to win the NFC South.

Video transcript

[AUDIO LOGO]

CHARLES ROBINSON: We'll start with Derek Carr. Derek Carr signs a four-year deal that-- four years, $150 million. It's really, if we're going to be real, is a three-year deal. He's getting a little more than-- it's going to average out to a little more than 33 APY year over those three years. And, you know, had we talked about this earlier-- and we did talk about Derek Carr-- and they had said, hey, around 35-- and 33 is pretty close to 35-- I would have said, yeah, OK, I buy that. And that's what he got from the New Orleans Saints. That's maybe the big surprise.

JORI EPSTEIN: OK. So my question is, if Sean Payton was not coaching in 2023, do the Saints still make a quarterback move? I'm not saying that is the only reason they made a quarterback move. But isn't it just a little bit of vindictive like, hey, if Sean's going to be relevant, we want to be relevant too, and we don't want to be kept out of being relevant by having the right quarterback in the building?

CHARLES ROBINSON: It's interesting. I mean, I-- it surprised me. I guess the thing that was less surprising was this was the team that expressed interest in him.

JORI EPSTEIN: Right.

CHARLES ROBINSON: So that, I think, put them in the driver's seat in terms of once he became a free agent, they didn't have to give up assets. It is a team where you're like, OK, we don't know what's going on with Alvin Kamara from a legal standpoint. We don't-- Michael Thomas, who knows? Like, Chris Olave, great. You know, there's certain aspects of that team that are impressive. But yeah, like, I'm-- I don't know. Like, really?

Is this-- I guess, to me, maybe part of why you make this move-- and I won't say that Mickey Loomis isn't staring at Sean Payton saying, hey, I don't want to, you know, just fall apart here without Sean Payton. But when you look at the division, OK, I mean, he's the best quarterback in the division immediately. Like, it automatically puts them in a position where if that defense continues-- you know, look, the defense has got talent. And even Alvin will be fine. Who knows what happens with Michael Thomas? Olave takes a big step. OK, I mean, it's not-- let's be real, it's just not a good division.

And so maybe they're sitting there saying, there's still-- we can still make hay here. We just got to have a pretty decent quarterback. And by the way, he's in a dome. He's going to-- I think this is the right division for him. I like this division way-- far more than the AFC East. I-- maybe the interesting thing, the fallout here, I had a chance to talk to two people today. And I do think the Jets were genuinely interested, but he just wasn't the top priority. He wasn't. And he knew that. And I think the way that that ended--

JORI EPSTEIN: When you say he wasn't the top priority, he wasn't their top quarterback?

CHARLES ROBINSON: He was not their top quarterback priority. No, they're waiting on Rodgers. They are. And I'm not convinced that they're not wondering what's going to happen with Lamar Jackson either. So I know, absolutely, Rodgers-- it was the, let's wait and see with Rodgers. Let's have some patience here. Meanwhile, you have the Saints who were doing the negative recruiting.

They were like, you are our top priority. Come play here. We want you. We wanted you before you were released. Why are you waiting on this team? And by the way, you want 35. We'll get you pretty close to 35. And you're probably not getting that fourth year balloon payment of, like, $50 million. But, hey, you know, you're going to make some good money here. And who knows what can happen between now and the fourth year of the deal?

JORI EPSTEIN: Right. Yeah, no, I think it's super interesting too. And as you mentioned, Derek Carr is going from a division with Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Russell Wilson. And there's a 14-win team in the division, a 10-win team. And then you're going to a division in the NFC South where no one had a winning record last year. I don't know. Who's the Buccaneers quarterback this year? Kyle Trask?

CHARLES ROBINSON: Kyle Trask, Desmond Ridder--

JORI EPSTEIN: Who's the Carolina Panthers quarterback? I mean, is it a draft pick? And then you have the Saints. I mean, I guess it's still possible there's definitely some buzz around the combine that, like, OK, Falcons, Lamar, that could be happening. But at least right now, you might have the best quarterback outlook in your division after being with Mahomes, Russ, and Justin Herbert. So I could see why, for him, that would be appealing.

And I guess for the Saints, yes, they're making a move, but they're not, like, really going all out. And also, when you look at it, I mean, their initial first round draft pick for how they played, they traded away last year. And so they're not picking until 29, which is the pick they got back from the Broncos. So, I mean, it's not like they were going to be able to make moves in the draft.

So even if you're like-- you can make the argument of, don't they realize they need to rebuild at some point? But at what point were you not going to have a quarterback at all this year? Because you're probably not getting one in the draft that's going to do what you need them to do.

CHARLES ROBINSON: And, I mean, let's-- OK, let's play with how the season rolled out last year. I thought the Giants needed to do a big rebuild.

JORI EPSTEIN: Right?

CHARLES ROBINSON: You know what? Hey, their quarterback played a little bit better. You know, parts of the division were strong, but--

JORI EPSTEIN: With a new coach and a new coordinator.

CHARLES ROBINSON: Yeah, true.

JORI EPSTEIN: Which the Saints don't have that.

CHARLES ROBINSON: They don't have that. But I would argue with the Saints, I would argue he is the best quarterback they've had since Brees. I mean, I don't even know if that's a-- you know, look, there were times where Dalton played OK. There were times where--

JORI EPSTEIN: That's what I was going to ask you. How much better is Derek Carr than Andy Dalton?

CHARLES ROBINSON: That's a good question. I mean, I don't-- some people are going to say you're insane. Like, he's clearly a better player. I don't know, because Andy Dalton's a lot cheaper. Like, is he?

JORI EPSTEIN: Right.