The agreement in principle came less than two hours into the legal tampering period. The Raiders would quickly come to regret it.
As happens every year, these deals are done sight unseen, with no meeting or visit or phone call to the player or physical before the offer is made and accepted. In 2016, for example, the Texans signed quarterback Brock Osweiler without coach Bill O’Brien ever even meeting him. If they’d gotten together before anything was done, Osweiler and O’Brien might have realized that they would get along worse than Tom and Jerry.
For the Raiders and Garoppolo, it wasn’t a personality conflict but an unresolved injury that put the team in a tough spot. It was Garoppolo’s foot injury that hadn’t healed.
So what did agent Don Yee tell the Raiders about the foot as the contract was negotiated? Apparently, whatever Yee said was enough to get the Raiders to offer Garoppolo a contract — including an eight-figure signing bonus. Then, once the doctors were able to poke and prod, the Raiders backed off, significantly reworking the deal.
The Raiders had the leverage to do it, because no one else wanted Garoppolo at that point, or at that number. But what were the Raiders going to do? Jarrett Stidham already had fled for the Broncos; if the Raiders had known Garoppolo’s foot was still not healed, they could have made a more competitive offer to keep Stidham around.
They also could have pursued Andy Dalton or Sam Darnold or Baker Mayfield. They could have tried to trade for a veteran with another team. They could have devised a plan to try to sign Lamar Jackson to an offer sheet, in theory. They could have gotten into the running for Aaron Rodgers, as Davante Adams wanted them to do.
For some of those options (specifically, Jackson and Rodgers), the Raiders still could have pulled the plug completely on Garoppolo after he failed the physical and pivoted that way. However, it would have created strange optics, at a minimum, if Jackson or Rodgers had become the Plan B to Garoppolo.
Regardless of what else the Raiders could have done, the point is that they obviously were led to believe that Garoppolo’s foot was fine. They offered him a contract, with the eight-figure signing bonus, based on that assumption.
It all happened during the 52-hour negotiating window, when teams implement their plans for utilizing free agency to upgrade their rosters. By locking onto Garoppolo, the Raiders at a minimum surrendered the chance to re-sign Stidham or to sign Dalton, Darnold, or Mayfield.
If the Raiders end up with Brian Hoyer or Aidan O'Connell as their quarterbacks this year, it’s definitely worth remembering that Yee’s representations to the Raiders about Garoppolo’s health might have sent the team’s quarterback position into turmoil for 2023 by getting them to focus on Garoppolo at the exclusion of other viable options.
Negotiating window put the Raiders in a tough spot with Jimmy Garoppolo originally appeared on Pro Football Talk