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Raiders' Aidan O'Connell on switching to No. 12: Wearing No. 4 'felt disrespectful' toward Derek Carr

Aidan O'Connell is abandoning the No. 4 with plenty of good reason ahead of Year 2.

During an appearance on teammate Maxx Crosby's "The Rush" podcast, the Raiders quarterback said changing his jersey number to 12 was out of respect for former Las Vegas signal-caller Derek Carr.

"When the offseason came, it felt to me this is Derek's number," O'Connell said. "He wore it for that long and he's a franchise leader and all this stuff. It felt disrespectful, so I just wanted to kind of give that back to him."

Carr captained the Raiders for nine seasons beginning in 2014 as a second-round pick. He became an instant sensation for Raider Nation, leading the Silver & Black out of the muck as early as his third season with a 12-4 record which snapped the franchise's 13-year playoff drought.

An unfortunate leg injury to Carr marred that 2016 playoff appearance, but he cemented his status as the club's next franchise quarterback. Despite struggles getting back into the playoffs, Carr went on to become the franchise's all-time leading passer in yards (35,222) and touchdowns (217) while also shepherding the Raiders' move from Oakland to Las Vegas ahead of the 2020 season.

Carr's impact was tremendous for the Raiders, but it all ended unceremoniously with a late-season benching in 2022 under former head coach Josh McDaniels. He was released by the club later that offseason and found a new home with the New Orleans Saints in 2023. McDaniels was fired by the Raiders midway through last season.

According to O'Connell, taking Carr's old number in the first place wasn't even his decision.

"I didn't pick 4," O'Connell explained. "I was actually 9, and then Tyree (Wilson) wanted 9, so they gave 9 to Tyree. That was like in the first week I was here last year. And then they gave me 4, and as a rookie you kind of do what you're told."

O'Connell, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, earned the starting job midway through his rookie year in favor of Jimmy Garoppolo following a midseason firing of McDaniels. The 25-year-old produced 2,218 yards with 12 TDs and seven interceptions in 10 starts (11 games), accruing a 5-5 record as a starter.

It remains to be seen if O'Connell will retain the starting job in 2024 as he enters an offseason battle with newcomer Gardner Minshew, but Year 2 will begin with a clear conscience after ditching Carr's old number.

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