The Raiders’ situation at quarterback definitely isn’t perfect. But it isn’t completely dire, either. Over the weekend, ProFootballTalk dug up the details of Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract with the Raiders and found an addendum that materially changed the terms of the agreement. Without going through (and boring you with) the specific language, the crux of the deal is that Garoppolo failed his physical because of the left foot injury he suffered in December, which more or less forced him into a waiver situation.
What does all this mean? I spent some time looking into that …
• The key line in the waiver sits at the end of the first bullet point of the addendum—if not for the waiver, “the Club would not enter into an NFL Player Contract with Player.” Basically, that’s saying that based on the risk the injury presented, and because it prevented Garoppolo from passing the physical, the waiver was necessary for the team to do the deal.
• The timing of Garoppolo’s injury is key here. He got hurt in December and elected not to have surgery then because he and the Niners believed it left the most doors open—keeping alive the chance he’d be back for the playoffs with San Francisco vying for a Super Bowl title, and also the shot to have a full offseason with a new team. He didn’t get back before San Francisco was eliminated in the NFC title game. He might have returned for the Super Bowl (he was throwing off to the side before the title game). But that he’d need the surgery after choosing not to go through with it initially was hardly a shocker, especially considering how foot injuries can be problematic.
• Injury waivers are commonplace with older vets, and so that a guy in his 30s that failed his physical would be asked to sign one isn’t rare. The Patriots actually had veteran RB James Robinson sign three of them (for both his knees and his left Achilles) as part of the free-agent contract they did with him in March. But they are rare in the case of starting quarterbacks.
• Functionally, what the waiver means is that if Garappolo re-injures his left foot, the Raiders can cut him and be free of the guarantees in his contract. But it has to be the left foot—if he separates his shoulder or breaks his ribs, the guarantees remain intact. And for what it’s worth, the guarantees are his base salary of $22.5 million for this year and an $11.25 million roster bonus next March.
And that means Garoppolo’s making a bet that his foot will be O.K. coming out of all this.
It’s also an illustration that everyone knew what they were getting into in March. The Raiders knew Garoppolo’s foot was problematic, and the failed physical gave them an extra layer of protection against it getting reinjured. Also notable—since the beginning of the offseason program—Garoppolo’s been in the building on a daily basis and working with Davante Adams, among others. He’s done everything he physically can, and the plan is for him to be a go for camp.
Oh, and on the other Raiders story of the week, the addition of Tom Brady to the ownership team is worth mentioning in that if Brady wants to explore working on the football side, the existing relationships he has should help. He and Raiders coach Josh McDaniels have had a pretty consistent dialogue on nonfootball subjects since Brady left New England in 2020, and the two have history together spanning two eight-year runs, beginning when both were low-on-the-totem-pole guys in their mid-20s with the Patriots.
Of course, if Garoppolo’s hurt again, I’d imagine the speculation would begin on Brady starting for the Raiders, oh, probably before the trainers got onto the field to get a look at Garoppolo.