USA TODAY International Edition

Raiders’ deal for QB yields high value

- Jarrett Bell Columnist

As usual, the eye- popping numbers came in a flurry as the NFL’s free agency market ( unofficial­ly) opened for business on Monday.

Daron Payne: 90, as in million, on a four- year deal while staying put in Washington.

Another defensive tackle, Javon Hargrave, bolted from Philadelph­ia to San Francisco on a four- year, $ 84 million contract.

Mike McGlinchey? The former 49ers tackle is off to Denver. Five years, $ 87.5 million.

Atlanta was busy re- upping guard Chris Lindstrom with $ 105 million over five years, then luring safety Jessie Bates III from Cincinnati with a fouryear, $ 64 million pact.

These are just some of the headliners on deals that will become official when the NFL’s new league year begins at 4 p. m. ET on Wednesday. As the NFL’s revenue escalates and the salary cap keeps rising, up to $ 224.8 million per team for 2023, the funny money is flowing.

Then there’s Jimmy Garoppolo. Against the backdrop of the mad money, the veteran quarterbac­k looks like a major bargain for the Las Vegas Raiders.

No, Jimmy G. didn’t come dirt cheap. Las Vegas landed Garoppolo with a three- year, $ 72.75 million deal that came with $ 45 million guaranteed. The contract averages $ 24.25 million.

In the grand scheme, though, the play that reunites Garoppolo with Raiders coach Josh McDaniels, his former coordinato­r with the New England Patriots, might have been the shrewdest move of any as the new market kicks in.

Remember, the New York Giants paid $ 40 million per year in sticking with Daniel Jones, who hasn’t thrown for 20 touchdowns in a season since 2019. That’s the type of market comp to consider when assessing what the Raiders will pay Garoppolo, who apparently was also on Houston’s radar, too.

Sure, other bargains will emerge as the market rolls into the season.

Yet, as it stands now – weeks after the Raiders released establishe­d quarterbac­k Derek Carr – it is quite the parlay for Las Vegas. There’s no need for sympathy for Carr. He landed in New Orleans, reunited with his former head coach, Dennis Allen, with a four- year, $ 150 million deal that guarantees $ 100 million.

Instead of keeping Carr, who would have been guaranteed $ 40.4 million if he were on the roster on Feb. 15, the Raiders saved more than $ 15 million in starting quarterbac­k change with the switch to Garoppolo.

Dave Ziegler, the second- year Raiders GM who also has history with Garoppolo from his days in Bill Belichick’s scouting wing with the Patriots, can take a bow. Garoppolo’s contract takes into account the injury woes that have dogged the quarterbac­k over the years.

There’s little question that Garoppolo, 31, can win if he’s on the field. He led the 49ers to Super Bowl 54. It’s reasonable to believe that he will operate well again in McDaniels’ system. And it will help to have a premier running back in Josh Jacobs to power the rushing attack, while Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and newly added Jakobi Meyers embody formidable targets in the passing game.

The unknown is whether the Raiders can bank on Garoppolo to be on the field. During his five seasons with the 49ers, Garoppolo missed 30 games ( excluding playoffs) due to injuries. The assortment of setbacks include the broken foot that cut his most recent season short following ACL, thumb, shoulder and ankle issues.

To acknowledg­e the possibilit­y of starting but not finishing with Garoppolo, the contract contains per- game bonuses of $ 90,000. Stay healthy, he collects. Follow history and the Raiders’ payout is modest.

No, surely there was no talk of any fully guaranteed contract in this case.

Yet the Raiders can look at their salary cap ledger and talk about the money that will be available to pursue other free agents or, just as importantl­y, secure long- term extensions for the likes of Jacobs or defensive end Maxx Crosby.

Also, with the seventh pick in the first round, the Raiders are still positioned to potentiall­y draft their quarterbac­k of the future, depending on how the board falls with a top- heavy quarterbac­k crop in play. It’s possible that the Raiders could groom a young quarterbac­k and opt to even part ways with Garoppolo after a year or two without diving into salary- cap purgatory.

It might be tough to get the bookmakers on the Strip to lay heavy odds on Garoppolo playing a full season, but it’s a strong Moneyball move nonetheles­s that at least provides some hope of also paying huge dividends on the field.

 ?? JAYNE KAMIN- ONCEA/ USA TODAY SPORTS ?? Jimmy Garoppolo has agreed to a three- year, $ 72.75 million deal that came with $ 45 million guaranteed from the Raiders.
JAYNE KAMIN- ONCEA/ USA TODAY SPORTS Jimmy Garoppolo has agreed to a three- year, $ 72.75 million deal that came with $ 45 million guaranteed from the Raiders.
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