As the so-called ‘legal tampering’ period of NFL free agency opened on Monday, news broke on a new deal for now-former 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
And after last offseason, full of its will-they-or-won’t-they swings and the eventual decision to keep Garoppolo in town as a backup to Trey Lance, at least that part should be a pleasant site for 49ers fans.
However, when ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news of Garoppolo’s new home, the destination felt a little strange:
Schefter would later add to the news a moment later to indicate that not only was Garoppolo joining his old offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, in Las Vegas with the Raiders but that it appeared to be, at least on face value, a little more than a short-term solution for both parties:
Obviously, the terms and structure of the deal will provide a lot more detail. But on the surface, this one seems to be a head-scratcher for all parties.
Is Jimmy Garoppolo actually an upgrade for Raiders over Derek Carr?
From the quarterback’s perspective, Garoppolo is joining a division already owned by the defending Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, led by the league MVP, quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The division also boasts a presumptive runner-up in the Los Angeles Chargers and their dynamic young quarterback, Justin Herbert.
That makes Garoppolo and the Raiders likely the third-place team in the division, at best, and that assumes that Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos continue to be as bad as they looked during the former Seattle Seahawk’s first season at Mile High in 2022.
For the Raiders, it’s odd because they just released a quarterback, in now-New Orleans Saints signal-caller Derek Carr, who arguably does the things McDaniels’ offense asks its quarterbacks to do better than Garoppolo does.
Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis made that distinction pretty clear in a series of tweets sent out after the news of Garoppolo’s signing came to light. Sharp noted that for throws of greater than 15 yards, Carr ranked ninth in the league (out of 47 qualified players) last year in terms of EPA added per play (+0.58) while Garoppolo found himself 42nd on the same list, with a negative EPA added per play (-0.01) on such throws.
When the throws extended to more than 30 yards, Carr was ranked 10th with an EPA added per play of +0.98, with the former Niners QB landing at 40th, with a -0.58 EPA added (or, I supposed, subtracted) per play.
Sharp then added a second tweet showing a chart of quarterbacks with at least 75 attempts of 20 or more yards downfield over the last few seasons. It does not paint a pretty picture for a Raiders team that likes to get the ball down the field:
This leads you to wonder why Garoppolo ended up being the guy for the Raiders when it was all said and done. They certainly saved some money compared to the massive deal that Carr got from the Saints.
But it also seems like that at best they have made a lateral move at the most position in sports.
Garoppolo will do some things better than Carr when it comes to those short-area throws, and there’s a case to be made that the best plan for the Raiders on offense is to get the ball to wide receiver Davante Adams and let him do the rest, something Garoppolo has done well with during his time in the YAC-heavy Niners offense.
But the deal seems like one that is more about familiarity than upgrading at quarterback for Vegas.