USA Today

Derek Carr has faced questions about his future with the Raiders pretty much from the moment Jon Gruden stepped foot inside the building in 2018. General manager Mike Mayock didn't exactly quiet speculation this offseason when he said he was happy with Carr but wouldn't turn down a "chance to upgrade" at quarterback. Now, with less than a month until the start of the 2020 season, Gruden is set to ride with Carr for a third straight year, and not only that, but Mayock believes the QB has taken on even more of a leadership role.

"I'm really pleased with the way Derek Carr has taken over this football team," Mayock told reporters Tuesday, putting emphasis on how "awesome" it was to see the quarterback organize unofficial workouts amid the pandemic-shortened offseason.

Mayock's comments echo those of Gruden earlier in the offseason.

"I really think Derek is a heck of a player, and I got a lot of respect for what he has done in what was some tough circumstances," Gruden told The Athletic. "I love what Derek Carr did (last year), I love what he brings to our team and (I'm) anxious to continue to build around him."

On one hand, the praise reaffirms the Raiders' commitment to Carr, who is signed through 2022 and now boasts a deeper supporting cast thanks to Las Vegas' offseason additions of weapons like Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards and Lynn Bowden Jr.

That said, persistent skeptics of Carr's long-term future in Vegas might note that Mayock's words arrive amid a reportedly rough training camp for fellow QB Marcus Mariota, whose two-year contract with the Raiders makes him one of the 20 highest-paid signal-callers in the NFL. There's also the fact Carr, 29, is entering his seventh season with the team.

Regardless, the QB seems intent on using 2020 to prove he belongs atop the Raiders' depth chart for the long haul. Carr said earlier this month he never considered opting out of this season because he has "a lot to prove to myself," adding that he's "tired of being disrespected" as a starting QB.