There’s no denying that Jimmy Garoppolo fits what the Las Vegas Raiders want in a starting quarterback.
Garoppolo played for Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels in New England when the QB entered the league as a second-round pick in the 2014 draft, so he’s intimately familiar with the offense in Las Vegas.
On Monday, the Raiders agreed to sign Garoppolo to a three-year, $67.5 million deal that includes $34 million in guaranteed money. So McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler can still draft a quarterback of the future next month, possibly at No. 7 overall.
For now, Garoppolo provides Las Vegas with a legit franchise quarterback in an AFC West that includes big names like Patrick Mahomes with the Kansas City Chiefs, Justin Herbert with the Los Angeles Chargers and Russell Wilson with the Denver Broncos.
During his three seasons in New England as a backup for Tom Brady, Garoppolo completed 67% of his passes for 690 yards, with five touchdowns and no interceptions. He posted a 106.2 passer rating. Garoppolo also was successful in San Francisco, leading an offense directed by head coach Kyle Shanahan with a plethora of playmakers in Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk.
The Raiders boast plenty of playmakers of their own, led by running back Josh Jacobs, tight end Darren Waller and receivers Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow. Yet Las Vegas averaged just 23 points per contest and finished 4-9 in one-score games last season under the direction of QB Derek Carr.
Since entering the league in 2014, Garoppolo ranks seventh in the league in passer rating (99.6) and tops the NFL in yards per attempt (8.3) among 43 quarterbacks with at least 1,500 passing attempts during that time frame.
Jimmy Garoppolo signs with Raiders
Colin Cowherd reacts to the news that Jimmy Garoppolo is reuniting with Josh McDaniels.
Yes, Garoppolo can play. But the issue for the Raiders is if he can play an entire season without getting injured.
The Eastern Illinois product finished 38-17 as a stater for San Francisco, leading the 49ers to two NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl appearance. But he also finished on injured reserve in three of the past five seasons, including missing the second half of the 2022 season with a broken foot.
So how much can the Raiders rely on a 31-year-old, injury-prone quarterback to answer the bell each week in the competitive AFC West?
“You’ve got to have a great leader,” McDaniels said at the NFL Combine when asked about quarterback traits he looks for. “He’s got to be able to have mental and physical toughness, no question about it. There’s going to be a ton of adversity in the National Football League season, and whether it’s physical things he’s going to have to battle through or the mental toughness to endure a couple of losses and keep going, those kinds of things are always going to be prerequisites for us.
“And he’s got to be able to move the ball, score points and take care of it. When you talk about quarterback play, they need to get us in the end zone, we need to protect the ball from the other team, and ultimately, we got to win. There’s a lot of things that go into playing this position really well.”
After Carr signed with the New Orleans Saints after being released by Las Vegas, McDaniels and Ziegler are about to find out if Garoppolo has enough of those things to lead the Raiders back to the playoffs in 2023.
Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.
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