Forget about Aaron Rodgers and the baggage he’s bringing from Green Bay to New York. And Jarrett Stidham, a lifelong backup who hasn’t won a game as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
The Raiders have found their quarterback for the 2023 season.
Jimmy Garoppolo is a perfect fit.
That the Raiders are issuing a relatively affordable reported guarantee of $45 million to Garoppolo during the course of his three-year contract simply bolsters what he’ll bring to their locker room:
A proven winner and distributor who helps foster the kind of culture they want to construct.
Long regarded as one of the NFL’s best leaders, Garoppolo has won 40 of the 57 games he’s started — plus four playoff games, steering the San Francisco 49ers to two NFC championship games and a Super Bowl appearance before reuniting Monday in Las Vegas with coach Josh McDaniels, who never quite clicked with former Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.
The terms of the deal preserve nearly $30 million in cap space, per Spotrac — some of which they doled out Monday to safety Marcus Epps and cornerback Brandon Facyson.
They also maintain their full complement of draft picks, allowing them to rebuild what’s long been one of the league’s worst defenses and draft a quarterback they can attempt to develop behind the 31-year-old Garoppolo.
Perhaps Garoppolo would have made more money in free agency had he demonstrated the durability the position required instead of missing 16 games the past three seasons with a litany of injuries. He isn’t quite the deep passer Carr was, either, something McDaniels assuredly knows from their three-plus years together in New England.
He’s by no means the future of the franchise, as his age and injury history would suggest.
“We’ll look at everything we can look at,” McDaniels said last month at the scouting combine of what was then a vacancy at football’s most important position. “But the goal eventually is try to have a young player here that’s going to be a Raider for a long time.”
Garoppolo isn’t that, but he is a certified winner who doubles as one of the league’s most accurate quarterbacks.
Even if wasn’t tasked with driving every victory in San Francisco.
He has completed 68.2 percent of his passes since 2019 (when he lead the NFL in fourth-quarter comebacks) to tie for the NFL’s second-best mark. His passer rating of 100.2 since 2019 is sixth among quarterbacks with at least 40 starts — and he leads the league in yards per attempt since 2014.
He’s also 25-3 in games in which his defense allows 20 points or fewer.
Don’t rush the rebuild
Garoppolo shouldn’t expect that ilk of defensive support often amid the Raiders’ presumptive defensive rebuild.
But he’s flanked with a bevy of playmakers akin in ability to those he played with in San Francisco — positioning him for productivity from the pocket in 2023. That said, his acquisition positions the Raiders to remain relatively competitive as they improve their local foothold and add more talent and depth to what isn’t close to a Super Bowl-contending roster.
When the Raiders do draft a quarterback — be it with their No. 7 overall pick or another one — he’ll inherit a willing mentor in Garoppolo, who maintained his professionalism as San Francisco attempted to jettison him.
“Jimmy’s the man,” said 49ers quarterback Trey Lance, a former No. 3 overall pick who made the proclamation after his rookie season of 2021.
“He’s been nothing but a brother to me. Whether it’s competing in practice or sitting in the meetings, he’s been nothing but great to me, and I’ve been nothing but thankful for him and everything he’s done. He’s going to be one of my best friends for my whole entire life.”
That, and a perfect fit for the Raiders in 2023.
Contact Sam Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.
This content was originally published here.