While we’ve known for a while that the Las Vegas Raiders will have a new starting quarterback for the first time in nearly a decade, we did get some clarity Monday morning on who Derek Carr’s replacement might be.
As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Raiders are signing former New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a three-year, $67.5 million contract — an average of $22.5 million per year — including $34 million guaranteed.
Per Spotrac.com, Las Vegas will have an out before year two that includes an $18.75 million dead cap hit with $9.25 million in cap savings for a pre-June 1 designation and those numbers shift to $15 million and $13 million with a post-June 1 designation. Year three includes an out with a $3.75 million hit and $24.25 million savings regardless of when the release happens, so this is a pretty “team-friendly” deal.
One caveat, nothing is official until 1:00 p.m. (PST) on Wednesday when free agency officially begins.
So, now that we have some clarity, what does the Raiders’ quarterback room look like, and what’s next for the position group?
Players leaving: Derek Carr, Jarrett Stidham
Las Vegas will lose two-thirds of its quarterback room from the previous year and both players who made starts for them. Carr signed a four-year, $150 million contract with the New Orleans Saints last week, and Stidham agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal with the division-rival Denver Broncos. Carr will be the Saints' starter while Stidham is expected to serve as Russel Wilson’s backup.
Barring a surprising emergence from Chase Garbers, this means head coach Josh McDaniels will essentially be starting from scratch when it comes to the position next season. Also, OTAs, minicamp and training camp are going to be even more important/significant this summer for the Silver and Black’s receiving corps as they work to get comfortable with Garoppolo and company.
Currently rostered: Jimmy Garoppolo*, Chase Garbers
While Garoppolo is underwhelming for most Raider fans, he does bring over a 40-17 record as a starter which was Carr’s (63-79) fatal flaw. Jimmy G also has familiarity with McDaniels and the coach’s offense having served as Tom Brady’s backup for the first three and a half years of his career.
In San Francisco, he made 55 regular-season starts and threw completions on 67.6 percent of his passes for 13,599 yards and 82 touchdowns to 42 interceptions, while helping the 49ers reach three NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl. Granted, he only participated in two of the three championship games due to injury.
As for Garbers, he was an undrafted free agent signing last year who was on the practice squad until Carr got benched for the final two weeks of the season. The Cal product didn’t receive any playing time during the games that count, but he did post a 60 percent completion rate for 249 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions in the preseason. He also added 59 yards on seven carries as a rusher.
[*Garoppolo’s contract doesn’t become official until Wednesday.]
The Raiders are still going to have to invest in a backup quarterback. Expect for 2019, every season that Garoppolo has been a starter, he’s gotten injured and missed starts. Even when he was filling in for Tom Brady for four games in 2016, Garoppolo got banged up and couldn’t play in the final two outings he was expected to.
While Garbers could take a step and become a decent backup option, he’s an unproven commodity so the team would be best suited to at least bring in some competition for the spot on the depth chart. If Las Vegas opts to dip into the free-agent market again for a second quarterback, their top options (at the time of writing) would likely be Jacoby Brissett, Teddy Bridgewater and Gardner Minshew based on PFF’s free-agent rankings.
However, Brissett may be looking for a starting opportunity next season. If that is the case, expect to hear Marcus Mariota’s name get thrown in the mix for a potential second go-around in Las Vegas. After that, the cupboard is bare for veteran signal callers.
The other option the Raiders have is to draft a quarterback to simultaneously serve as the backup option and future of the franchise.
With the seventh overall pick and Garoppolo under contract, I wouldn’t expect general manager Dave Ziegler to try and move up the draft board to take Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud. But Ziegler can afford to be patient now that the urgency to find a signal caller is diminished and see if Anthony Richardson from Florida and/or Will Levis from Kentucky falls in his lap on draft day.
After the NFL Combine, Richardson sliding to seven feels unlikely but there is a good chance Levis will be on the table. Starting Garoppolo while the Kentucky product develops for a year or two wouldn’t be a bad situation for the team’s offense in both the interim and the future.
Picking up Jimmy G also gives Zielger the option of waiting until next year’s draft class as Heisman trophy winning-quarterback Caleb Williams from USC and North Carolina’s Drake Maye are expected to headline the position group in 2024. Granted, Las Vegas would still need a veteran backup in this scenario.
At the end of the day, while we got more clarity on the Raiders’ quarterback situation, it still feels like the job is not done and they’ll like make another move or two at the position over the next couple of months, if not sooner.