And the answer is Jimmy G.
The question of who would become the Las Vegas Raiders’ 2023 starting quarterback began on December 28 when the team announced they were sitting starting quarterback Derek Carr for the final two games of the 2022 season, signaling the end of his nine-season tenure as the team’s starting quarterback.
For months, there was speculation surrounding Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and even Lamar Jackson. In the end, the answer less than two hours into free agency as the Raiders have signed Jimmy Garoppolo to a three-year, $67 million deal.
Here are some early thoughts on the signing.
It makes sense:
Garoppolo is a Josh McDaniels’ guy. McDaniels craves his guys at quarterback. That’s why he tried to trade for Matt Cassel when he went to Denver in 2009. That’s why he moved away from Carr. Now, McDaniels has a McDaniels guy. Garoppolo was drafted by New England in 2014 when McDaniels was the offensive coordinator and Las Vegas general manager Dave Ziegler was in the front office. McDaniels believes players who know his system can execute it the best. Garoppolo certainly wasn’t the first choice to replace Carr, but for now, McDaniels is comfortable with him.
Passer rating as starter w/ McDaniels calling plays:— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) March 13, 2023
Jimmy G 119
Mac Jones 92.5
Kellen Clemens 73.8
AJ Feeley 67.6
He’s probably a two-year starter:
Garoppolo’s deal probably means he will be the starter for the next two seasons in Las Vegas. He is averaging $24 million a season for the next two years, so it’s a reasonable deal.
New #Raiders QB Jimmy Garoppolo's three-year deal has a base value of $72.75 million, including $24.25M in Year 1.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 13, 2023
An $11.25M roster bonus on the third day of the 2024 league year is guaranteed. So Jimmy G is effectively locked in as Las Vegas' starter for two years and $48.5M.
Will they draft a QB early?
The Raiders could still draft a quarterback at No. 7 if there’s someone available they like. They could also draft someone in the second round or the mid-rounds. I don’t think this signing changes that.
Will they sign a veteran backup?
Jarrett Stidham, the 2022 backup to Carr, signed with Denver on Monday. So, the Raiders will likely need to bring in another veteran quarterback. There are some out there and perhaps one to keep an eye on is Taylor Heinicke, who played for new Las Vegas pass-game coordinator Scott Turner in Washington.
Will Davante Adams be happy?
Ziegler said Adams would be kept abreast of the quarterback situation and Adams said he hoped to be part of it. Will Garoppolo please the Raiders’ superstar receiver. He wanted to be a Raider, in large part, because he was reuniting with his college buddy, Carr. Jimmy G is not known for having a cannon of an arm.
Carr was durable. Garoppolo has not been. He has played just one full season since becoming the 49ers’ starting quarterback in 2017. So, the Raiders need to worry about keeping Garoppolo healthy. That means it is even more important that Las Vegas improves the offensive line this offseason.
He’s a winner:
Garoppolo isn’t flashy, but he has won. He is 53-21 as a starter and has good playoff experience. Yes, he’s been on some excellent teams, but Jimmy G. is a true leader and has been loved by his teammates. His teammates should respond well to him in Las Vegas.
Is he better than Carr?
Did the Raiders get better at the quarterback position? Look, the Raiders will want to find a franchise quarterback in the draft at some point. But the truth is, fans want them to win now. That was the original plan when owner Mark Davis brought in this regime. They were brought in to win. Does Garoppolo give the Raiders a better chance to win than Carr did and is he an upgrade? I’m not sure he is.
Need to get better around him:
Garoppolo is much cheaper than what Carr was scheduled to make, so the Raiders have a chance to get better and they have many needs. Las Vegas has to get better on the offensive line and at all layers of the defense. The quarterback question has been answered, but the roster work in 2023 is just beginning.