Antonio Pierce proud of how Jimmy Garoppolo has handled benching

Whether it was Mark Davis' decision or his, Raiders interim coach Antonio Pierce was the one charged with telling Jimmy Garoppolo the team was benching him.

The quarterback signed a three-year, $72.5 million contract with the Raiders in March, with his 2023 base salary of $33.75 million and a 2024 roster bonus of $11.25 million guaranteed. He played only six games, throwing seven touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Garoppolo will back up rookie Aidan O'Connell on Sunday and perhaps for the rest of the season.

"Your sensitive to it, but you're direct. You just nip it in the bud, which we did. We talked about it like grown men," Pierce said his conversation with Garoppolo. "But at the end of the day, Jimmy is on our team. Jimmy's still a captain. Jimmy's still a leader. I'm sure at some point, Jimmy's going to have the ball in his hand again. Things happen. It's the National Football League. You're never going to say, 'It's 100 percent this is how we're going to do it.' Things can happen.

"I'm very appreciative to Jimmy. Since Jimmy has been here, he's done nothing but become a pro and really taught our team to be a pro and also how to win, and when I say win, I'm not talking about on the grass always. I'm talking about in the meeting rooms, how to carry yourself, how to talk, how to handle adverse situations, and that's what I'm proud of."

The Raiders, who have started five different quarterbacks since the start of last season, hope to use the rest of the season to evaluate whether O'Connell has a chance to be a full-time starter. If not, then the team likely will look outside the organization for a franchise quarterback in the offseason.