After nine years, the Las Vegas Raiders decided to end the Derek Carr Era this NFL offseason. The team could have gone in several directions for a new quarterback, including trading for Aaron Rodgers or drafting a QB in the 2023 NFL Draft. Instead, the team signed former San Francisco 49ers signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo. And that Jimmy Garoppolo Raiders’ free agent signing is by far the biggest risk the team took in the 2023 NFL offseason.
Why the Jimmy Garoppolo Raiders’ free agent signing is the riskiest move of the 2023 NFL offseason
In the modern NFL, a team needs a top-flight quarterback to win a Super Bowl. The winning QBs on the last 10 NFL championship teams were Patrick Mahomes, Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady, Mahomes, Brady, Nick Foles, Brady, Peyton Manning, Brady, and Russell Wilson.
So, it is possible to win in the right circumstances with a below-average QB (Foles) if the team around him is great and he has the run of his life. But in nine out of the last 10 seasons, a top-five signal-caller in that season has walked away with the Lombardi trophy.
In the 2023 NFL offseason, the Raiders decided that Derek Carr is not a top quarterback, capable of winning it all, and decided to go in another direction. That direction was a Jimmy Garoppolo Raiders’ free agent signing, and that is a massive risk.
Let’s start with the fact that Jimmy G and Derek Carr are similar signal-callers. Neither is the reason their team wins, but at their best, they can game0manage their way to victory. Garoppolo has done this much more in his career, making six playoff starts to Carr’s one and going to an NFC Championship Game and a Super Bowl. But in fairness, Garoppolo’s coaching and teammates have been far superior to Carr’s over the years.
The Raiders gave Jimmy G a three-year, $72.75 million contract with an $11.25 million signing bonus and $45 million guaranteed. That works out to an average annual value of $24.25 million, which isn’t bad at all for a starting QB in a league where Lamar Jackson now makes $52 million a year and Daniel Jones gets $40 million.
However, it’s what recently came out in a previously hidden addendum to the contract that makes the Jimmy Garoppolo Raiders’ free agent signing such a huge risk.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk first reported that “Addendum G” in the deal should be a massive cause of concern for Raiders fans. The clause states that the foot injury that knocked Garoppolo is so bad that “without [the special waiver], Garoppolo would not pass the team’s physical.”
It also states that “The contract preserves the team’s ability to terminate the agreement with no further obligation, ‘for any reason related to the Waiver and Release attached as Addendum G,” unless he passes a team physical or is active for one game in 2023 without re-injury.
Long story short, Garoppolo’s foot injury is bad, the Raiders know it, and it may be so bad that the smartest thing for the team to do is to cut him before the 2023 season starts.
That’s a bad spot to be in at the start of June.
Las Vegas had multiple options after cutting Carr after last season ended. As mentioned above, the team could have traded for Aaron Rodgers or drafted a QB in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. If they sat where they were, both Will Levis of Kentucky and Hendon Hooker of Tennessee would have been available.
With a trade-up, maybe Anthony Richardson from Florida or even CJ Stroud from Ohio State could have been options.
Now, there are precious few options available for Las Vegas if the Jimmy Garoppolo Raiders’ free agent signing doesn’t work out during or after the 2023 NFL offseason.
Right now, 38-year-old Brian Hoyer, 2023 fourth-round pick Aidan O'Connell from Purdue, and 2022 undrafted practice squad QB Chase Garbers are the signal-callers behind Garoppolo. The situation is so bad right now that the best (and most ridiculous) option if Jimmy G can’t go is to try and talk new Raiders minority owner Tom Brady out of retirement and into the huddle.
If Garoppolo can get and stay healthy, he is a slight upgrade over Carr and should be able to execute the Raiders' offense better under his former New England Patriots offensive coordinator. With Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, Josh Jacobs, and rookie tight end Michael Mayer, the Las Vegas offense has a great chance to be excellent if all goes right.
That said, it currently seems like a lot could go wrong with Jimmy G, especially health-wise, and that makes the Jimmy Garoppolo Raiders’ free agent signing a massive risk.