An expensive mistake: The end of the Jimmy Garoppolo era in Las Vegas

The days of Jimmy Garoppolo as the quarterback of the Las Vegas Raiders are nearing an end. The team is expected to release Garoppolo following the news of his suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy this past weekend.

The release would mark the end of a tumultuous tenure for the player and the team, characterised by performance issues and injuries after Garoppolo joined from the San Francisco 49ers.

Garoppolo’s suspension is a result of using a prescribed medication without a valid Therapeutic Use Exemption. This violation leads to a two-game suspension, which will be served at the start of the next season. While the suspension undoubtedly tarnishes his reputation, it also has significant financial implications.

The former 49ers performance with the Raiders was a roller coaster ride. He managed to start only six games, going 3-3 while completing 65.1% of his passes. His average yards per attempt were 7.1, with seven touchdowns against nine interceptions. Injury issues have also plagued Garoppolo’s career, contributing to his inconsistent performance and eventual benching in favour of rookie Aidan O’Connell.

Here are some takeaways from the suspension and the expected end of this marriage…

Financial and contract implications

Garoppolo was set to receive an $11.25 million roster bonus on the fifth day of the new league year in March. However, his suspension is likely to void this bonus. He had signed a three-year, $72.75 million contract with the Raiders, with $33.75 million guaranteed.

The financial implications of Garoppolo’s release are significant for both parties. The Raiders are expected to incur a dead salary cap hit of $17.1 million but will also free up $11.269 million in cap space for 2024. This manoeuvring is crucial for the Raiders as they look to rebuild and possibly acquire new talent in the offseason. 

What’s next for the Raiders?

With Garoppolo’s departure, the Raiders are entering a new era. They will now look to find their third-starting QB in the last three years. Heading into free agency, they now have the 11th-most cap space at about $35.3 million, providing them with the flexibility to make significant moves in the off-season.

Currently, O’Connell and veteran Brian Hoyer are the two quarterbacks on their roster. However, the team’s general manager, Tom Telesco, may look to add a rookie QB to compete with O’Connell for the starting job. This could potentially involve trading up in the 2024 NFL Draft from 13th to the top end.

There are rumours of Heisman winner and LSE QB Jayden Daniels being on the sights of the Raiders given the connection that Head Coach Antonio Pierce has with him due their time together at Arizona State. He also attended the Raiders week 18 game against the Denver Broncos which started all of this speculation.

What about for Garoppolo?

At 32, Garoppolo’s future in the NFL appears uncertain. Given his suspension, injury history, and performance issues, he is likely to find opportunities as a backup rather than a starter. His suspension will delay his start to the 2024 season, but he will be allowed to participate in all offseason activities and training camp with any new team. 

Potential landing spots could include teams in need of an experienced backup quarterback, with the New York Jets mentioned as a possibility due to their need for depth at the position. Garoppolo’s experience and past success, including leading the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance, could still make him an attractive option for teams looking for a veteran presence and backup option.