Jimmy Garoppolo

Davante Adams Addresses Raiders’ Decision To Bench Jimmy Garoppolo

The Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo last offseason, but he struggled early in the campaign. That was followed by a pair of missed contests and the midseason firings of Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler. By the time the veteran quarterback was healthy, he had been benched in favor of rookie Aidan O’Connell.

[RELATED: Recapping Raiders’ Offseason]

The latter held starting duties through the remainder of the season, a period with interim head coach Antonio Pierce at the helm. Pierce was hired on a full-time basis after receiving the endorsement of several high-profile Raiders players. One of those was wideout Davante Adams, who appears to have had a say in the decision to replace Garoppolo with O’Connell.

A scene from Netflix’s Receiver series shows Adams being asked his thoughts on the QB decision. The three-time All-Pro replies, “well, my opinion on that was that I signed off on that, and that’s just the reality of it” (h/t Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk).

It comes as little surprise Adams’ opinion would be asked about a quarterback switch, but his remark suggests further frustration between he and the team could have emerged had Garoppolo stayed in place. Adams joined Vegas in the hopes of reuniting with former college teammate Derek Carr, but that was only the case for one year. Carr’s departure prompted the ill-fated Garoppolo signing and questions about Adams’ future with the Raiders. It seems his desire to remain with the organization was a factor in his view on the shift to O’Connell.

“I love Jimmy.” the 31-year-old added. “He’s a great guy, but something had to happen in order for us to have a chance down the stretch, and for me to remain a Raider, in all honesty.”

Adams recently offered a public commitment to Vegas despite continued interest on the part of former teammates (including Aaron Rodgers) to have him seek a trade elsewhere. Such a move is unlikely at this point, but it is clear Adams had his short- and long-term future in mind when giving his thoughts on the Raiders’ 2023 QB depth chart. O’Connell is still in place, and he will spend training camp competing for the No. 1 gig with Gardner Minshew.

As for Adams, three years remain on his contract (although no guaranteed salary is in place beyond 2024). The six-time Pro Bowler’s cap hits are scheduled to spike next offseason, so an extension or other adjustment could be needed by that point. It will be interesting to see how he meshes with O’Connell and/or Minshew over the course of the coming campaign during Pierce’s first full year as head coach.

NFL Active Leaders In Career Earnings

Kirk Cousins‘ four-year, $180MM deal with the Falcons this season vaulted him up the list of active career earners. This was by virtue of his $50MM signing bonus, adding to the more than $231MM he earned from the Commanders and (mostly) the Vikings throughout his career. Even under the worst-case scenario, Cousins will still see at least another $50MM come his way via his contract with Atlanta, which would push his career earnings north of $331MM.

While the soon-to-be 36-year-old Cousins will surely see a significant portion of the $80MM worth of unguaranteed money on his contract, he’ll still be hard pressed to catch Aaron Rodgers on the career-earnings list. Rodgers earned more than $306MM during his long tenure in Green Bay, and he’s already made close to $37MM during his one season in New York (mostly via the $35MM signing bonus on his reworked pact).

With at least $40MM of additional guarantees coming his way from the Jets, Rodgers will continue to grow his lead as the highest-earning NFL player of all time. Both Rodgers and Matthew Stafford were able to leap Tom Brady among the NFL’s highest all-time earners over the past year.

With all that said, we’ve listed the 25 active players who have earned the most money in their NFL careers (h/t to OverTheCap.com). While this list is up to date, it doesn’t account for soon-to-realized salaries for the 2024 campaign. This list is also solely focused on NFL cash and does not include off-the-field earnings:

  1. QB Aaron Rodgers: $343MM
  2. QB Matthew Stafford: $328MM
  3. QB Russell Wilson: $305MM
  4. QB Kirk Cousins: $281MM
  5. QB Jared Goff: $234MM
  6. LB Von Miller: $179MM
  7. QB Joe Flacco: $177MM
  8. OT Trent Williams: $171MM
  9. QB Derek Carr: $165MM
  10. LB Khalil Mack: $162MM
  11. QB Dak Prescott: $161MM
  12. DL Aaron Donald: $157MM
  13. QB Jimmy Garoppolo: $150MM
  14. DE Calais Campbell: $143MM
  15. QB Deshaun Watson: $142MM
  16. QB Patrick Mahomes: $136MM
  17. DE Joey Bosa: $134MM
  18. DL Leonard Williams: $134MM
  19. WR Mike Evans: $132MM
  20. QB Carson Wentz: $130MM
  21. WR DeAndre Hopkins: $128MM
  22. WR Stefon Diggs: $126MM
  23. DE Cameron Jordan: $126MM
  24. OT Lane Johnson: $121MM
  25. DT Chris Jones: $120MM

NFC Contract Details: Bucs, Mayfield, Eagles, Sweat, Parker, Rams, Garoppolo, Saints

Here are the details from some of the recently agreed-upon contracts around the NFC:

  • Baker Mayfield, QB (Buccaneers). Three years, $100MM. Of the $50MM in Mayfield guarantees, $40MM is fully guaranteed. The other $10MM will shift from an injury guarantee to a full guarantee on Day 5 of the 2025 league year. Mayfield can also earn $5MM per year via incentives, Fox Sports’ Greg Auman notes. Half of those are stat-based incentives. If Mayfield finishes in the top 10 in the NFL (or top five in the NFC) in passer rating, TD passes, yards, yards per attempt or completion percentage in any of the three years, he would earn $500K per category, Auman adds. The other $2.5MM per year comes through playoff incentives. Mayfield would earn $500K for a Bucs wild-card win, $750K for a divisional-round conquest and $500K for an NFC championship game win. If the Bucs are to win a Super Bowl with Mayfield at the helm, he would collect another $750K.
  • Darious Williams, CB (Rams). Three years, $22.5MM. Only $7MM of Williams’ $15MM guarantee is locked in at signing, per The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue. This contract’s key date will come on Day 5 of the 2025 league year, when the remaining $8MM will shift from an injury guarantee to a full guarantee. Barring injury, this effectively makes 2024 a “prove it” year for the now-two-time Rams CB.
  • Josh Sweat, DE (Eagles). One year, $10MM. The Eagles’ Sweat rework will bring $9.5MM guaranteed for the veteran defensive end, per OverTheCap. Philly used four void years to spread out the cap hit, which sits at $8.1MM for 2024. If Sweat signs elsewhere before this contract’s March 2025 expiration, the Eagles will be tagged with $16.4MM in dead money.
  • Cedrick Wilson, WR (Saints). Two years, $5.75MM. The Saints are guaranteeing Wilson $2.85MM, ESPN.com’s Katherine Terrell notes. The second-generation NFL wideout will be due a $200K roster bonus in 2025; none of Wilson’s ’25 salary ($2.7MM) is guaranteed.
  • Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (Rams). One year, $3.18MM. Previously reported as including $4.5MM in base value, the Rams’ Garoppolo contract (via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe) contains $3.18MM in base pay.
  • Ben Bredeson, G (Buccaneers). One year, $3MM. Bredeson’s Bucs pact includes $1.75MM guaranteed, The Athletic’s Dan Duggan tweets.
  • DeVante Parker, WR (Eagles). One year, $1.21MM. The Patriots are paying most of Parker’s deal, with $3.19MM guaranteed remaining on his 2023 extension. The Eagles are not guaranteeing the former first-rounder anything, Volin tweets. The Pats will receive a $1.98MM cap credit if Parker plays the whole 2024 season.

Rams Sign QB Jimmy Garoppolo

MARCH 20: The Rams are giving Garoppolo a one-year deal that includes a $4.5MM base value, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. Incentives can move the value of this contract to $12MM, but that will likely depend on whether a Stafford injury gives Garoppolo an opportunity to make starts.

MARCH 15: Jimmy Garoppolo‘s free agency will not last long. Despite receiving a two-game PED suspension, the former 49ers and Raiders starter will land in a popular spot.

The Rams are signing the veteran to back up Matthew Stafford, per the NFL Network’s Peter Schrager and Mike Garafolo. Garoppolo closed last season as a backup but has extensive experience as a starter. Coming from the Kyle Shanahan offense will certainly help Garoppolo here as well. The 32-year-old passer agreed to a one-year deal.

By mid-September of the past six seasons, Garoppolo has been viewed as a starter. He signed a three-year, $72.75MM deal to rejoin Josh McDaniels, but the 10-year QB’s stock has nosedived since. Missing two games due to injury early in the season, Garoppolo wound up on the bench once the Raiders fired McDaniels. He served as Aidan O’Connell‘s backup during the season’s second half but incurred the PED ban early this offseason, giving the Raiders a way to avoid paying out the QB’s 2024 guarantees. Garoppolo became a post-June 1 cut earlier this week.

Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay use schemes derived from the Mike Shanahan-Gary Kubiak system, as both were on Mike Shanahan’s Washington staff in the 2010s. Tweaks have naturally occurred, but this stands to be an easier transition compared to Garoppolo landing in an entirely new offense. He appears all set to replace Carson Wentz as Stafford’s caddy.

The Rams turned to Wentz after a rough Brett Rypien start in Green Bay. Stafford missed much of the 2022 season due to injury but was only down for one game last year — a bounce-back slate for the cannon-armed starter. Wentz, who remained in free agency until November last year, is back on the market.

Garoppolo’s return to McDaniels’ system did not go well; he managed nine interceptions in six starts as Davante Adams fumed. Garoppolo was certainly much better under Shanahan, averaging 8.3 yards per attempt and guiding the team to two NFC championship games and Super Bowl LIV. QBR placed Garoppolo 16th in 2022 — prior to his broken foot introducing the NFL to Brock Purdy — and slotted him in 13th and 12th, respectively, in 2021 and 2019.

This will still be an interesting switch for Garoppolo, who faced the Rams many times as the 49ers’ starter. Garoppolo went 8-0 against Los Angeles in the regular season, but McVay’s team reversed the trend in the ’21 NFC decider.

After using John Wolford as his primary backup for four years, McVay provided an interesting chapter in Baker Mayfield‘s career. The five-game Rams cameo helped the former No. 1 pick finish the 2022 season on a better note, and McVay also went the veteran route with Wentz. This pattern will continue with Garoppolo, who played effectively when Trey Lance went down early in the ’22 season. Given Stafford’s run of injuries — maladies he has largely played through — Garoppolo will play an important role in L.A.

Rams QB Jimmy Garoppolo Discusses Two-Game Suspension

Jimmy Garoppolo is set to be the backup to Matthew Stafford next season, but the recent Rams acquisition won’t immediately start the season as the QB2. Garoppolo drew a two-game ban from the NFL for violating the league’s PED policy, keeping him off the active roster until Week 3.

[RELATED: Rams To Sign QB Jimmy Garoppolo]

The veteran officially inked his deal with the Rams today and met with reporters, where he admitted that he “messed up” the NFL’s Therapeutic Use Exemption policy. As Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic writes, the NFL allows players to get an exemption for banned substances, something Garoppolo apparently failed to do.

“That was … I hate to joke about it, but I just messed up the T.U.E. when I first got to Las Vegas,” the quarterback said (via Rodrigue). “… Bad timing, I guess.”

Garoppolo was released by the Raiders last week following a disappointing 2023 campaign. The veteran inked a three-year deal with the organization last offseason but was benched after tossing nine interceptions in six starts. While the 32-year-old won’t be in a position to start, he’s surely counting on better results in Los Angeles if he is pushed into the starting lineup.

Garoppolo had plenty of success playing under Kyle Shanahan, and the 49ers head coach joins Rams head coach Sean McVay in using offensive schemes derived from the Mike Shanahan-Gary Kubiak system. As Rodrigue points out, Garoppolo also has experience playing under Rams tight ends coach/pass game coordinator Nick Caley and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur during his stints in New England and San Francisco.

The free agent acquisition understands the QB hierarchy in Los Angeles and isn’t expecting to be anything more than injury insurance, even when considering his familiarity with the offense. Instead, Garoppolo is looking forward to playing his role and returning to the field as soon as possible.

“I’m excited to start this new journey,” he said (via Rodrigue). “I don’t exactly know what is in store for me, ‘re-set,’ ‘re-invent,’ whatever you want to call it. I’m just excited to get back on the football field and start slinging it around with some new guys. I love football.”

Raiders Release WR Hunter Renfrow

MARCH 14: As expected, the Garoppolo release will be classified as a post-June 1 cut. The Raiders will pick up $24MM in cap space (via The Athletic’s Vic Tafur) as a result, though the money will not be available for nearly three months, and the designation will spread out the dead cap stemming from the 2023 signing over two offseasons.

MARCH 13: The Raiders’ Jimmy Garoppolo release will come to pass today, but the Silver and Black are also moving on from another offensive cog who has not lived up to his contract. They are set to release Hunter Renfrow, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports. The team has since made the Renfrow and Garoppolo releases official as well.

Given a two-year, $32MM deal during the 2022 offseason, Renfrow strangely fell out of favor while on that contract. Trade efforts last year producing no deal will lead to the veteran slot receiver becoming a street free agent today. Renfrow was set to earn an $11.2MM base salary next season.

Although the Raiders did not get much out of the Clemson alum following his 1,000-yard season — which played a central role in their Rich Bisaccia-overseen playoff berth — they will save more than $8MM with this release. Since his 1,038-yard 2021 slate, Renfrow has combined for just 585 yards over the past two seasons. This will go down as a notable mistake during the brief Josh McDaniels era, as Renfrow proved ill-fitting in the Raiders’ most recent offensive scheme despite McDaniels and Dave Ziegler signing off on the extension.

The Raiders shopped Renfrow at the 2023 deadline, doing so as Mark Davis became resigned to another staff overhaul. Prior to the McDaniels and Ziegler firings, they could not convince any team to take on Renfrow’s remaining base salary. Las Vegas did not want to eat any salary to move Renfrow last year. The team resumed its effort to trade the former Jon Gruden draftee this offseason, but nothing came to pass. Renfrow, 28, will join Tyler Boyd and Curtis Samuel among available slot receivers on the market.

Renfrow poses as an interesting candidate for a bounce-back deal, given his production under Gruden and down the stretch in 2021. The former fifth-round pick strung together back-to-back 600-plus-yard seasons in 2019 and ’20, becoming the Raiders’ top complement — as their Antonio Brown move combusted before the 2019 season — to Darren Waller in those years. With Waller sidelined for a chunk of the 2021 stretch run, Derek Carr turned to Renfrow as his top chain-mover. The Saints would profile as a potentially interested party, but Renfrow has not put much in the way of quality on tape over the past two seasons.

Jimmy Garoppolo Draws Two-Game Suspension; Raiders Expected To Cut QB

Expected to be released by the Raiders, Jimmy Garoppolo will not be able to suit up for his next team until Week 3 of the 2024 season. The veteran quarterback received a two-game suspension Friday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

Garoppolo will be banned under the league’s PED policy, per Schefter, who indicates this penalty is believed to stem from the veteran quarterback using a prescription medication without a therapeutic use exemption. Garoppolo will not appeal the ban.

During what turned out to be Josh McDaniels‘ final offseason running the show, the Raiders gave Garoppolo a three-year, $72.75MM contract hours into the legal tampering period. This came after a foot fracture ended Garoppolo’s 49ers career. More injury trouble emerged for the ex-Patriots draftee in Las Vegas, but the Raiders benched their starter immediately after firing McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler. Garoppolo spent the second half of the season backing up Aidan O’Connell. That setup always pointed to a release; Friday’s suspension will ensure Garoppolo will be a Vegas one-and-done.

The suspension stands to help the Raiders, who will be eyeing other QB options this offseason. Garoppolo is due an $11.25MM guarantee, which covers his 2024 base salary. This ban will reduce the dead money that would come the Raiders’ way in the event of release. Cutting Garoppolo will now only cost the Raiders $17.1MM, as opposed to $28.4MM, according to OverTheCap. That will help the Antonio Pierce-Tom Telesco regime as it determines its 2024 QB path. The suspension will void the guarantee, per CBS Sports’ Joel Corry, who notes Garoppolo’s contract includes language indicating a PED ban would trigger a void.

This continues a downward trend for Garoppolo, who was at the controls for the start of what turned out to be a seminal 49ers win streak during the 2022 season. A December 2022 Jones fracture ended Garoppolo’s season, introducing Brock Purdy to the NFL world. The 49ers did not make an attempt to re-sign Garoppolo, despite the team reaching a resolution to retain him as Trey Lance insurance just before the ’22 season. Garoppolo still commanded a decent market in 2023, fetching $33.75MM guaranteed from the Raiders. Part of that guarantee will not come his way.

Garoppolo, 32, started six games for the Raiders last season. Given a less QB-friendly setup in Las Vegas compared to the one he enjoyed under Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco, Garoppolo struggled. He finished his six-game run with nine INTs compared to seven TD passes. The Raiders, who had included an injury waiver in Garoppolo’s deal in case he did not heal properly from offseason foot surgery, parked the 10th-year passer on the bench after a dismal Monday-night showing in Detroit — one that preceded the firings of McDaniels, Ziegler and OC Mick Lombardi. With Pierce and Bo Hardegree in charge, Garoppolo was no longer part of the plan.

Although Garoppolo was coming off a benching that was set to cut into his 2024 market, a few teams are in need of at least a bridge option at QB this offseason. This suspension will further reduce Garoppolo’s negotiating leverage. While Garoppolo joins Russell Wilson as experienced starters expected to be cut by an AFC West team, the former’s injury history and newly discovered unavailability will hurt the former Super Bowl starter as a street free agent. A team wanting a bridge QB would ideally need that passer to be available to start the season, potentially as a rookie develops.

The 2023 Raiders agreement showed other teams pursued Garoppolo, who has made 63 career starts. Of course, he has also missed 32 starts due to injury over the course of his career. This suspension stands to help the markets of some stopgap-type passers on this year’s market. Beyond top UFA QBs Baker Mayfield and Kirk Cousins, a glut of midlevel vets — from Ryan Tannehill to Jacoby Brissett to Gardner Minshew to Sam Darnold — loom as options for teams unable to land the top two signal-callers. Justin Fields also likely will be an option via trade. Considering the Raiders’ Luke Getsy hire, they should at least be viewed as a possible destination for the three-year Bears starter.

Pierce’s past with Heisman winner Jayden Daniels has already come up this offseason, with the former Arizona State recruit’s name being mentioned during the Raiders’ OC search. It would likely take a big haul for the Raiders to move up from No. 13 into Daniels territory, however. O’Connell still resides as a possible Week 1 starter for Las Vegas, but once Garoppolo is cut, the now-Telesco-led team may also seek a veteran — should it determine a trade-up for a prized rookie too pricey — to compete with the 2023 fourth-round pick for the 2024 gig.

AFC West Notes: Raiders, Staley, Broncos

Josh McDaniels‘ leadership style became a lightning rod in Denver, helping lead to the successful New England OC’s second-season firing. Although ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano notes McDaniels’ Raiders situation did not feature a personality conflict on that level, a number of issues arose near the end of his 25-game Las Vegas tenure. While McDaniels’ style this time around was viewed as a bit more empathetic, Graziano colleague Jeremy Fowler notes the same traits that keyed the early wrap in Denver — people skills and a flawed culture — resurfaced in Nevada. This Patriot Way model led to quickly eroded trust, with the quarterback situation being the main part of McDaniels’ plan not resonating with players.

The team’s move from Derek Carr to Jimmy Garoppolo produced warning signs, but the McDaniels- and Dave Ziegler-handpicked veteran’s immobility and erratic play (NFL-high nine interceptions, despite two missed starts) led to some in the Raiders’ building believing Aidan O’Connell should have replaced the veteran starter earlier than he did, Fowler adds. Had the Raiders turned one of their several visits with early-round draft prospects into a selection, perhaps McDaniels would have been given more time to groom that player. With the team waiting until the final pick of the fourth round to take its quarterback, it is quite possible the team’s passer of the future is not on the roster. This being the case certainly interfered with McDaniels displaying his vision to the team.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • In what should not be especially surprising, Fowler adds some around the league believe Brandon Staley will need a winning effort to stave off a post-season three firing. Some viewed Staley as a candidate to be dropped after the Chargers‘ 27-point collapse in last year’s wild-card round, which came after Mike Williams suffered an injury in a meaningless Week 18 game. But GM Tom Telesco backed his HC for a third season. Again without Williams, the Bolts are 4-4. After Sean Payton was repeatedly connected to this job in 2022, the Bolts would obviously need to look elsewhere to replace Staley — if they choose to take that route — next year.
  • Last week’s USC-Washington game naturally attracted NFL personnel, but ESPN.com’s Pete Thamel notes both Broncos GM George Paton and Giants GM Joe Schoen were on-hand in a game that featured likely 2024 quarterback draftees Caleb Williams and Michael Penix. Both the Broncos and Giants would have complex paths to adding another QB. Denver could draft one with or without Russell Wilson on the roster, with a rookie salary perhaps complementing the starter’s hefty contract or hitting the Broncos’ cap sheet after they absorb a record-shattering $85MM in dead money (over two years, in the event of a post-June 1 cut). Regardless of how the Broncos fare in the season’s second half, Wilson’s status will be their top storyline.
  • The Broncos recently promoted Ben Niemann to their 53-man roster, and 9News’ Mike Klis notes the team did so to prevent another club from poaching him off the practice squad. Niemann, who could have conceivably loomed as a Chiefs roster replacement for the injured Nick Bolton, has 80 games under his belt. He added to that total earlier this year, against the Bears. The former Chiefs and Cardinals starter caught on with the Broncos after the Titans cut him in August.
  • Raiders free agency addition Robert Spillane recently underwent hand surgery, per interim HC Antonio Pierce (via The Athletic’s Vic Tafur), but it did not keep him off the field. After breaking his hand against the Lions in Week 8, the fifth-year linebacker underwent a procedure a day later but played every snap against the Giants. Largely a part-timer in Pittsburgh, Spillane — attached to a two-year, $7MM deal — has logged 98% of Las Vegas’ defensive snaps this season.

More Raiders Fallout: McDaniels, Ziegler, Davis, Harbaugh, Brady, Kelly

When the Raiders begin the search for a new head coach and general manager to replace Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler, they could have a difficult time attracting the most desirable talent. Per Jeff Howe of The Athletic (subscription required), owner Mark Davis vowed that he would give the duo a minimum of three years to return the Raiders to contention, but he fired them midway through their second season. Once seen as a patient owner, Davis has undermined his reputation in that regard, and most of the coaches and execs that Howe spoke with believe that the quick trigger will have a negative impact on his search.

One executive said, “I don’t know who you’re going to convince to take those jobs. I think Mark Davis made it harder on himself,” while another added, “[i]t definitely makes the jobs less appealing.”

To be clear, Davis will likely have plenty of candidates to choose from thanks to the desirability and rarity of a top job in the NFL coaching and personnel ranks. Still, it would not be surprising for the biggest fish in the upcoming hiring cycle to rebuff Davis’ overtures.

“If you’re only going to give me two years, just be upfront and honest with me,” a rival coach said. “I can handle that. It’d change the entire way you’d try to build the team. If you’re thinking about setting up to take off and win by Year 3, that’s how you’re going to manage your roster.”

McDaniels, of course, is a proponent of “hard coaching,” and it appears he alienated many Raiders players with his demanding style. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes, players “ripped into” McDaniels during the team meeting in which he allowed his charges to air their grievances, and players were especially critical of (among other things) McDaniels’ micromanaging and the way he deflected blame for issues with play-calling. Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer adds that interim HC Antonio Pierce attempted to speak on behalf of McDaniels at that meeting, but Pierce’s use of the Super Bowl-winning Giants team he played on as an example of what a good locker room culture can do irked McDaniels, who was part of the Patriots squad that lost that title game to New York (video link).

At the following practice, McDaniels attempted to give the players what they wanted by being less involved and not “overcorrecting” by stepping in after every mistake. However, one source told Rapoport that the new approach did not suit McDaniels well, that the head coach looked like “a shell of himself,” and that it was clear McDaniels’ tenure was coming to an end. Ultimately, McDaniels was unable to recapture the team chemistry that Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda.com believes was destroyed when quarterback and team leader Derek Carr was released earlier this year.

The driving force behind Carr’s departure remains a bit unclear. Rapoport’s sources say that Davis “led the push” to replace Carr, with McDaniels and Ziegler eventually getting on board, while Pauline says McDaniels was the one who wanted to move on from the franchise’s longtime passer. Back in late December/early January, it was reported that the McDaniels-Ziegler regime saw Carr as a poor fit in McDaniels’ offense, and that while McDaniels was prepared to let Carr play out the remainder of the 2022 campaign, Davis — who had been “lukewarm” on Carr for some time — wanted the QB to be benched for the last two games of the season.

Even if, as Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports suggests, Davis and the McDaniels-Ziegler duo were aligned on the Carr situation, subsequent quarterback-related missteps accelerated this week’s firings (although it should be noted, as Rapoport writes, that former club president Dan Ventrelle agreed to include in Carr’s 2022 extension the no-trade clause that undermined the Raiders’ leverage when they tried to deal Carr this past offseason. Ventrelle entered into that agreement with Carr’s camp prior to speaking with other club officials). We already heard that McDaniels’ decision to start former Patriots QB Brian Hoyer over rookie Aidan O’Connell in Week 7 rankled Davis, and obviously the decision to sign another of McDaniels’ former pupils, Jimmy Garoppolo, proved to be a poor one, as McDaniels apparently overestimated the ease with which Garoppolo would reacclimate to McDaniels’ offense.

On the subject of Garoppolo, Rapoport reminds us that the Raiders were among the teams that tried to trade up for the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, with quarterback Bryce Young the target. However, McDaniels reportedly did not want to “grow with” a rookie signal-caller, so the Raiders stood down while the Panthers catapulted up the draft board to claim the No. 1 spot before free agency opened. McDaniels & Co. acquired Garoppolo shortly thereafter.

It has been an open secret that Ziegler, despite his general manager title, took a backseat to McDaniels in terms of personnel matters. Indeed, Pauline called Ziegler a “glorified scout” and likened the McDaniels-Ziegler pairing to the Jon-GrudenMike Mayock partnership that preceded it. So while Pauline reports that Davis will be interested in hiring University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, it is fair to wonder if that would be the best move for the owner to make. After all, Harbaugh would also want full autonomy over personnel decisions, and like Mayock and Ziegler, any GM brought in along with Harbaugh would be little more than a figurehead.

That is to say nothing of the fact that Harbaugh, who is currently dealing with allegations of an elaborate sign-stealing scheme after already having served a three-game suspension this year for alleged recruiting violations, may not be the hot NFL candidate he once was. Per Rapoport and NFL.com colleague Tom Pelissero, the NCAA has not ruled on the alleged recruiting violations or sign-stealing operation — the three-game ban was imposed by Michigan — and the NFL may force Harbaugh to serve any NCAA-ordered suspension should he return to the pros. Mark Maske of the Washington Post, meanwhile, says it is not certain that the league would go that route.

Still, in light of the failures of the two prior regimes, a Harbaugh hire could be a tough sell for Davis. In fact, Jones writes that Davis will be seeking a “player-centric” coach rather than a coach with the hard-nosed styles of Harbaugh, Gruden, and McDaniels. Jones also believes Davis will seek to hire a GM before hiring an HC.

In any event, Davis has promised a “comprehensive search” for a new head coach, and Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal says Davis is being encouraged to hire a president of football operations to aid in the process. Ventrelle was replaced by Sandra Douglass Morgan in July 2022, and Jones writes that Morgan, along with longtime executive Tom Delaney and personnel man Ken Herock, will also offer counsel (though Pauline opines that most of Herock’s advice has led to “ruinous” decisions).

Jones echoes his recent report that Tom Brady will also influence Davis’ thinking. As expected, Brady’s would-be stake in the Raiders was not discussed at the league meetings last month, with Jones and Albert Breer of SI.com reporting that other owners take issue with the bargain price at which Davis is trying to sell a share of his club to Brady. Colts owner and finance committee member Jim Irsay told reporters, including Jori Epstein of Yahoo! Sports, “the number just had to be a reasonable number for purchase price.”

Breer adds that Brady’s broadcasting contract with FOX is also a hurdle to ratification of the purchase. Understandably, teams do not want anyone with an ownership stake in a rival outfit having the access and obtaining the inside information that broadcasters often enjoy, so much will need to change for Brady to be approved as a minority owner at the next league meetings in December.

Given Davis’ deep respect for Brady, it stands to reason that the all-time great will be an important voice in Davis’ ear regardless of his ownership status. And while much of the discussion about Las Vegas’ changing power structure has thus far focused upon who the next head coach will be, Pauline notes that there is a “groundswell” of support for interim general manager Champ Kelly to retain the GM post on a full-time basis. Kelly, a longtime Bears exec who has experience in both personnel and salary cap matters, has taken a number of GM interviews in recent years, and Davis recently admitted that Kelly might have gotten the Raiders’ GM job in 2022 if the package deal of McDaniels and Ziegler had not become available. Jones also names Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds as a candidate to monitor.

Despite Ziegler’s figurehead status in Nevada, Rapoport observes that McDaniels’ right-hand man nonetheless made strides in modernizing the personnel side of the Raiders’ operation, an effort that included hiring respected scouting minds, creating a scouting development program, and injecting “forward-thinking concepts on player development.” The next Raiders GM should therefore have something of a foundation to build upon.

Whether that person is Kelly or someone else remains to be seen, but in acknowledgment of their promotions, Davis reworked the contracts of both Kelly and Pierce, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports. Those transactions added even more money to the whopping $85MM tab that Davis will have to pick up due to the McDaniels and Ziegler firings (though some of that amount will be offset should his former employees land new jobs elsewhere).

Davis is one of the league’s most cash-poor owners, so these hugely expensive maneuvers underscore the strength of his conviction that McDaniels and Ziegler were not the right men to lead the Raiders. As Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal writes, Davis also fired team COO Mike Newquist, whom he hired just three months ago. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk concedes that Newquist’s post is unrelated to the football side of the team, but he believes the immediate firing of a key employee will further add to the perception of dysfunction that presently surrounds Davis’ franchise.

One way or another, Raiders fans are in for a fascinating few months.

Raiders To Bench Jimmy Garoppolo, Start Aidan O’Connell In Week 9

NOVEMBER 3: Garoppolo will see his time atop the depth chart come to an end, but he will remain in the gameday lineup on Sunday. Pierce confirmed on Friday that the 32-year-old will back up O’Connell, meaning Hoyer will serve as the emergency third quarterback. While the chance of Garoppolo suiting up could lead to a new injury and thus complicate his likely exit this offseason, this setup will give Vegas an insurance policy while O’Connell receives an extended look as a starter.

NOVEMBER 1: Aidan O’Connell will return to a starting role and will do so after being demoted to third-stringer. Following Josh McDaniels‘ ouster, the Raiders are preparing to install the rookie as their starting quarterback, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports. This is not expected to be a one-off, with Rapoport adding O’Connell will take the reins “going forward.”

Jimmy Garoppolo returned in Week 8 from a back injury that sidelined him the previous week, but despite signing a three-year deal this offseason, the longtime starter will be benched. This will certainly mark a major transition for the Raiders, who had used Brian Hoyer ahead of O’Connell in Week 7. The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Vincent Bonsignore initially reported the Raiders were leaning in this direction.

McDaniels turned to O’Connell in Week 4 following a Garoppolo concussion but kept him on the bench when Garoppolo went down two weeks later. Hoyer, 38, replaced Garoppolo against the Patriots and helped the team to a win. Hoyer then started against the Bears, though O’Connell also saw time late in that ugly defeat against the Tyson Bagent-quarterbacked team. Now, O’Connell will make the unexpected jump past Garoppolo for a team that is in line to have Bo Hardegree calling plays.

The Raiders have fired McDaniels, GM Dave Ziegler and OC Mick Lombardi. While Scott Turner is on staff as pass-game coordinator and brings four full seasons as a play-calling OC, Hardegree received the nod. Linebackers coach Antonio Pierce is now Las Vegas’ interim HC, with assistant GM Champ Kelly — who had interviewed for the GM gig — operating as interim GM. Garoppolo’s demotion will be the most notable on-field change in the wake of the housecleaning.

Garoppolo signed a three-year, $72.75MM deal with the Raiders, rejoining McDaniels after 5 1/2 seasons with the 49ers. Garoppolo, who had played for McDaniels for 3 1/2 seasons in New England, has started 63 career games. Although he has developed an earned reputation as the NFL’s most injury-prone active QB, Garoppolo had fared well in Kyle Shanahan‘s system. But the 10th-year QB, who turns 32 on Thursday, did not hit the ground running when back with McDaniels in Las Vegas. Garoppolo sits 30th in QBR and, despite missing two games, has thrown an NFL-high nine interceptions. The Raiders’ problems on offense go deeper than Garoppolo, hence the firings, but a team source informed Rapoport that O’Connell is the team’s best QB.

That certainly remains to be seen. The Purdue product flashed during the preseason and received the first crack at replacing Garoppolo, though Hoyer re-entering the picture does not bode too well for the fourth-round pick’s prospects. Khalil Mack sacked O’Connell six times during a seven-point loss in which the rookie fumbled thrice. O’Connell still completed 24 of 39 passes for 248 yards in that one-score loss, though a late red zone interception denied the Raiders a chance to tie that game.

O’Connell saw regular action in all four seasons with the Boilermakers and worked as their full-time starter in his final two. The Raiders met with each of the top five QB prospects this year but eyed defense (Tyree Wilson) in Round 1 and tabled their QB pick until No. 135 overall. This decision points Garoppolo to another free agency bid in 2024. Garoppolo’s 2024 base salary ($11.25MM) is guaranteed, but CBS Sports’ Joel Corry notes a Raiders September restructure of the deal — which added two void years for cap-saving purposes — will create $28MM in dead-money charges in the event of a non-post-June 1 cut designation. A post-June 1 cut would lead to a $15MM-plus dead-money hit. That restructure will create a challenge for the Raiders’ next GM come 2024.