Can Derek Carr finally win an NFL MVP with Davante Adams as his receiver? Or will we finally see a non-quarterback win the award?
Winning the NFL MVP award might not be as illustrious as winning a Super Bowl but it is still a prestigious award. The NFL MVP award has been a quarterback-dominated award. A quarterback has won 14 of the last 15 MVPs with Adrian Peterson being the only non-quarterback to win the award back in 2012. The usual suspects for the MVP favorites are names like Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Justin Herbert, all quarterbacks.
However, this piece is about those guys chilling just below the main favorites who could sneak up with a stellar year. With so many big-name players moving teams this offseason, some of these names are not too surprising. That being said, let’s check out my dark horse NFL MVP list for the 2022-23 season.
First up, we have the Raiders captain of the ship, Derek Carr. The Raiders had rumors swirling around whether or not Carr was affordable anymore. Those rumors were put to bed when the Raiders signed Carr to a new three-year, $121.5 million extension in April. That new deal shows the Raider’s confidence in Carr moving forward.
Sure his own deal gives him confidence but then the Raiders went out and traded for Carr’s former college teammate at Fresno State, Davante Adams. The same Adams who is widely considered the best receiver in the NFL right now. If adding the number one wide receiver to your offense does not boost you up, find another job. Carr was already putting up near-MVP numbers but now I see no reason why he won’t be a legitimate contender for the award at some point.
Carr has thrown for 4,000+ yards in four consecutive seasons now including a career-high 4,804 yards last season despite a horrible year for the Raiders off the field. If Carr can throw for nearly 5,000 yards without the league’s best receiver, imagine what he can do with him. The Raiders have a new head coach who is an offensive guru, the number one wide receiver, and a confident Derek Carr. I am not saying they are Super Bowl bound but Carr could have this team in a solid spot to compete for the playoffs with a huge year that puts him in a new tax bracket for NFL QBs.
Derek Carr (USA Today)
Next, we have the young, up-and-coming QB for the Miami Dolphins, Tua Tagovailoa. Tua might not be at the level of Derek Carr but his 13-8 record as a starter has him in a good spot. Tua is another quarterback that was blessed this offseason with huge additions via free agency. The Dolphins went out and got arguably the number two wide receiver in the NFL in Tyreek Hill. Pulling Hill away from the Kansas City Chiefs was a huge acquisition but it cost them a lot of draft picks. However, if Tua and Tyreek can find that connection that Hill had with Patrick Mahomes, we could be in for a treat.
The Dolphins also added Cedric Wilson who had a breakout year for the Cowboys last season. Let’s also not forget this offense already featured a speedy Jalen Waddle. Waddle broke the franchise’s rookie record for receiving yards in a season with 1,015 and set a new NFL record for receptions in a season for rookies with 104 breaking Anquan Bolden’s mark of 101 set back in 2003. So, they already have Waddle who is primed for another good year and then they add Tyreek Hill. The Dolphins could be a problem in the AFC East and Tua is the engine behind this team. If he can stay healthy, Tua could have a huge year with his new wide receivers and fast-paced offense.
Tua Tagovailoa (USA Today)
Next up, we have the seasoned veteran and newly acquired Colts QB, Matt Ryan. The Colts traded away Carson Wentz and then traded for Matt Ryan to fill that void. Matt Ryan now has one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and one of the best running backs in Jonathan Taylor. Ryan lacked both of those in Atlanta last year and now he has two aspects of offense that can help him have a huge bounce-back year.
Matt Ryan has eclipsed the 4,000 passing yard mark every year from 2011-2020. He missed 4,000 yards in 2021 by only 32 yards. I think the four-time Pro Bowler has plenty of gas left in the tank. The fresh start will help and Ryan can lead the Colts back to being serious competitors in the AFC. The only thing stopping Ryan would be his age but Tom Brady won an MVP at 40 years old so why couldn’t a 37-year-old Matt Ryan have a bounce-back year?
Matt Ryan (USA Today)
Next, we have the Philadelphia Eagles leader and QB, Jalen Hurts. Hurts showed us in college that he can win and perform well in the big moments. He now has some experience under his belt and the Eagles managed to add AJ Brown in the offseason. Hurts has the arm, athleticism, leadership, and smarts to lead this team in the NFC East.
The addition of AJ Brown now gives Hurts the chance to hit a big-body receiver over the middle of the field. They have DeVonta Smith for deep threat plays on the outside but now AJ Brown expands this offense immensely for Hurts as the QB. If Hurts can improve his completion percentage, this Eagles team can get behind Hurts as their franchise quarterback.
Jalen Hurts (USA Today)
Last but certainly not least, we have the Viking’s best receiver since probably Randy Moss, Justin Jefferson. I still think Justin Jefferson does not get enough credit for how good he really is. In the two seasons he has been in the NFL, Jefferson has 3,016 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. That level of production with Kirk Cousins as his quarterback should show how good he is as well.
The Vikings have a new head coach and plenty of fresh faces that could get this team in the right direction. Jefferson has the ability to lead this team even as the receiver and his ceiling is infinite after how well he’s done in just two seasons. Jefferson’s odds to win an MVP are far-fetched considering he would have to outperform way too many elite quarterbacks. If Jefferson has like 5,000 receiving yards then yeah sure but that won’t happen.
Justin Jefferson (USA Today)
Which of these dark horse NFL MVP candidates has the best chance to win the award? Comment below and join the discussion!
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