Las Vegas Raiders: A new chapter with Jimmy Garoppolo shouldn’t end QB search in 2023

After about a 24-hour delay, the Las Vegas Raiders introduced their new starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. At the podium, he seemed authentic in his responses to questions from the media, which allowed people to see why he’s meant for a leadership position.

When asked about the delayed introduction, Garoppolo had a prepared answer, referencing the technicalities of agreeing on a contract.

“No worry. I mean, it was just honestly just talking, language, things like that. But, no, both sides I think knew what we wanted to get done, so it was very collaborative, actually. It was just us coming together.”

Jimmy Garoppolo on agreeing to terms

Ultimately, the Raiders made it official with Garoppolo Friday, which is the only thing that matters right now.

Related: Ranking 8 realistic Las Vegas Raiders free-agent targets who can help the defense

Jimmy Garoppolo’s concerning injury history

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With that said, we shouldn’t shut down Raider conversations about the class of incoming rookie quarterbacks. As we all know, Garoppolo has an extensive injury history, missing 18 games since 2020, which is why the Raiders crafted a deal with a $90,000-per-game roster bonus.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio highlighted that item in Garoppolo’s contract as he broke down the specifics.

“The per-game roster bonuses are significant, and they reflect the reality that he has missed a lot of time over the years,” Florio wrote.

Over the past five years, Garoppolo has torn his ACL, dealt with a severe high ankle sprain, underwent surgery on his throwing shoulder, and broken his foot.

Sure, when Garoppolo takes the field, he can be a highly efficient quarterback with great accuracy (67.6 percent career completion rate) and a tendency to excel in the short-to-intermediate passing game, which fits head coach Josh McDaniels’ system.

On the flip side, we cannot say that Garoppolo is reliable in terms of availability. Because of that, the Raiders need a viable backup signal-caller. In the best-case scenario, McDaniels can develop a young quarterback who will take over for Garoppolo in the near future.

While a rookie quarterback may not be ready to take regular-season snaps in relief of Garoppolo in the first two months of the season, he can gain valuable experience and play meaningful snaps in the second half of the campaign.

Related: NFL general manager believes Las Vegas Raiders’ Josh McDaniels wants specific QB in 2023 NFL Draft

Raiders eyeing a rookie QB?

Forget 37-year-old Brian Hoyer, who’s available and familiar with McDaniels’ offense. Go after a high-upside rookie. Before signing Garoppolo, Ziegler and McDaniels had their eyes on at least one of the quarterback prospects.

According to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, the Raiders called the Chicago Bears about the No. 1 overall pick, but they didn’t go in-depth on their inquiry.

In a joint report, team beat reporter Tashan Reed of The Athletic, and Howe noted that the Raiders thought the Bears asked for too much in a potential deal, but Vegas can make a smaller move up the draft order.

“The Raiders deemed that price too steep, multiple league sources told The Athletic. Chicago dealt the pick to the Panthers last week in return for Carolina’s 2023 first- and second-round picks, 2024 first-round pick, 2025 second-round pick and receiver D.J. Moore, who was essentially substituted in place of a third first-round pick.”

“To be clear, nothing has eliminated the possibility the Raiders draft a quarterback in the first round. It’s certainly possible one they like could be available at No. 7, but it seems less likely they take that route. The Raiders only view a few quarterbacks as worthy of being drafted that high, anyway, league sources said, and they can’t be sure they would be able to stay put at No. 7 and land one.”

In the No. 3 spot, the Arizona Cardinals don’t need a quarterback; they just signed Kyler Murray to a five-year, $230.5 million extension last offseason. Under a new general manager in Monti Ossenfort, they may be open for business with the intent to trade back and acquire additional draft capital.

Related: 2023 NFL mock draft: Round 1 outlook after Bears, Panthers trade

Making a move for future QB1

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If, for some reason, C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young slip past the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans, who hold pick No. 1 and No. 2 selections, respectively, the Raiders should be prepared to make an aggressive offer to the Cardinals for their spot. Vegas would have to leapfrog the Indianapolis Colts, who have the No. 4 overall pick and a need at quarterback.

Garoppolo has only played one full season in nine years because he served as a backup to Tom Brady for three years with the New England Patriots before his injury-riddled tenure in San Francisco.

With the high probability that the Raiders will have to deploy Garoppolo’s backup, a rookie who has the potential to play his way into the team’s long-term future can showcase himself early and possibly outshine his veteran counterpart. Look at what happened with Brock Purdy this past season.

Purdy has a rare story, rising through the ranks from the last pick in the 2022 draft to the starter in the NFC Championship Game, but McDaniels should be ready to develop a young player in case Garoppolo isn’t able to finish the upcoming season.

After two years, the Raiders can move on from Garoppolo and save $24.25 million with only $3.75 million in dead cap, which means they’re not under pressure to find their quarterback of the future right now.

But the Raiders won’t be at the mercy of Garoppolo’s concerning injury history once they identify their potential franchise guy. With the rise of a young signal-caller, the club would have great flexibility at the most important position on the roster.

What’s better than not having to rush your young quarterback but knowing he’s ready to play if needed? In that scenario, the Raiders would find themselves in a win-win situation.

Ziegler and Co. cannot allow Mr. Right Now to prevent them from finding their quarterback of the future.

Maurice Moton covers the Raiders for Sportsnaut. You can follow him on Twitter at @MoeMoton.

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