Las Vegas sees Garoppolo as a better culture than Carr

Concerns about Carr arose during his first year with Josh McDaniels, who is deeply familiar with Garoppolo from their time in New England.

Free agency is in progress…

• By mid-season, the Raiders they knew they might be pulling the mid-February escape hatch they built into Derek Carr’s three-year extension. And one reason they felt, at the time, that they would be on solid ground to do it is because they promised there would be options out there for Vegas with institutional knowledge of what Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler are working to build.

One was Tom Brady. The other was Jimmy Garoppolo.

With the former off the table, the Raiders agreed to a three-year, $67.5 million deal — that’s the base value, at $22.5 million per — with the latter. Garoppolo’s deal calls for $22.5 million each year as a starting point, with an $11.25 million roster bonus due next March fully guaranteed now, to bring the guaranteed total to $33.75 million (how much they had to cut bait after the following year, minus any offsets).

There are also $90,000 per game roster bonuses (giving the oft-injured quarterback more money if he stays healthy) through the deal, totaling $1.53 million each year and $1.5 million in playoff incentives each year. That might push him past his camp’s goal of $25 million per.

ORR: Everyone wins with Jimmy G joining the Raiders

OK, so on the field, why Garoppolo over Carr? The Raiders, for better or worse, didn’t see Carr as a culture fit after having him in the building for a year, and they couldn’t make that mistake again at this position. They’re not guessing if Garoppolo will be any better in that regard. They know.

The other thing is that McDaniels really believes in Garoppolo. He wasn’t at all surprised by the quarterback’s blossoming at the end of his first season in San Francisco, and he always believed there was a little more to it than the injuries were hiding. So now, the 31-year-old essentially takes the spot that Carr once held—playing the role that Alex Smith played in Kansas City as the Chiefs waited for Patrick Mahomes to arrive—and the Raiders can continue to build the roster elsewhere.

Is it a Garoppolo home run? Probably not. But it’s certainly not out of left field.

Jimmy Garoppolo gets another chance to start in Las Vegas.

Sergio Estrada/USA TODAY Sports

• I recognize that what I am about to present will seem silly to some. It is OK. But I think when you’re looking for new ones Bears LB Tremaine Edmunds, the No. 1 thing to look at is drafts. And that’s how you can see his arrival in Chicago, and the departure of Roquan Smith in the fall (in exchange for a second-round pick) both.

In Indy, with Matt Eberflus as DC, the Baby chicks he drafted two off-ball linebackers who would develop into long-term starters – Shaq Leonard and Bobby Okereke. Both fit one mold. They were over 6’1″, but more than that, they had the length and speed to shrink the field for the offense. Both had wingspans that exceeded 82″, putting them in the 98th percentile for the position. Both had 34″ arms, with Leonard landing in the 95th percentile and Okereke in the 97th.

If you went to a Colts practice, you could literally see it if you looked close enough. The linebackers looked like they came off an assembly line, tall and lean and long.

Now consider Smith and Edmunds. Smith, now with the Ravens, is under 6’1″, has a 77″ wingspan (34th percentile) and 32″ arms (29th percentile). 98th and 97th percentile in those categories. And so Smith was traded and Edmunds was paid to arrive.

Here’s the thing – I don’t think the decision-making by the Bears here was any kind of indictment of Smith. Moreso, it’s an ode to Matt Eberflus’ roots. He learned run-heavy zone defense, one that puts a premium on linebackers who can cover ground and get their hands on passing yards, from Rod Marinelli. Marinelli, of course, once had a big, lanky linebacker with the Bears. And Brian Urlacher set a pretty good — and big, fast and big — template for these coaches to work off of.

• THE LeadersThe plan, for now, is for Jawaan Taylor to replace Orlando Brown as the team’s left tackle — a position where Taylor last started in college (and started at left tackle for just two games at Florida). It’s certainly a projection, but line coach Andy Heck did the same thing with Brown (who was a left tackle in college, but not in Baltimore) two years ago.

This, by the way, is still subject to change. The way Kansas City sees it, planning to play Taylor on the left with the flexibility to have him on the right opens up the team’s options at the draft position. So if they draft Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison at 31, they might move Taylor back to right tackle. But with Taylor shooting to play left tackle, it opens up the possibility of trading a right tackle, like Tennessee’s Darnell Wright or Ohio State’s Dawade Jones, at that point.

• Those were two contracts, by the way, that were actually solid after a closer look at the details. Taylor’s deal carried $20 million in cash over each of its four years and had a $60 million carryover guarantee — that number will be locked in next March, and cutting him before then would mean paying him 40 million dollars in a single year. Edmunds, meanwhile, gets $42 million over the first two years of his deal and a third-year guarantee (this one for $9.5 million) that, as was the case with Taylor’s contracts, vests after the first year of the deal.

Which means there’s a strong belief from Kansas City and Chicago that these signings will work out.

• The Jonnu Smith trade makes the tight end look like the inverse of Patrick Chung for New England. Chung was a player who o Patriots always had a vision for. He played four injury-riddled seasons in Foxboro early in his career, then signed with Philly. It didn’t work out, and he came back and had a very good second stint in Foxboro.

Smith is similar. Arthur Smith had a very clear plan for how to use him, both as his position coach and coordinator, in Tennessee. The tight end then left for a payday in New England, and the Patriots never found a fit for him in their offense. And now he’s going back to play for his old coach, now the coach in Atlanta, and my guess is that it will work out, just like returning to the Patriots once did for Chung.

The idea, anyway, deserves a seventh round Falcons took him over.

• Hat tip to Falcons GM Terry Fontenot on this one, by the way. The pick he sent to the Patriots for Smith was actually Buffalo’s — Fontenot acquired it at the trade deadline last year by sending Dean Marlowe to safety. Accounts after Buffalo lost Micah Hyde for the season. So with little depth on his roster, Fontenot might have had a starting-caliber tight end to pair with Kyle Pitts.

• I’ll be curious to see when Orlando Brown comes off the board. Taylor and Mike McGlinchey both got paid, and Brown sits there as the top tackle. My understanding is that Brown was adamant about staying at left tackle, rather than moving to the right side, where he played in Baltimore. It’s easy to wonder if that hurts his market, especially with the number of Shanahan-influenced teams favoring smaller players.

• Speaking of McGlinchey, the Broncos are in on him and Titans Free agent guard Ben Powers is a good early indication of Sean Payton’s influence in Denver. For years in New Orleans, Payton poured draft and cap resources into his offensive lines, believing he could make do with a little less at the skill positions (very few players satisfied monster contracts there until Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara did at the end of its run).

That seems to be the case with Payton’s new team now. Which is good news for Russell Wilson.

• THE Texans Allowing Garoppolo to go to Vegas seems like a strong sign that they plan to take a second quarterback overall. As we reported this morning in our Bears/Panthers trade column, Chicago had some discussions with Houston about the Texans going 2-1, and Carolina didn’t even call them because they were convinced that Nick Caserio was getting a signal caller.

• A year after exploding in receiver money, it was quiet at the position on the first day of free agency. Do teams operate with care? We’ll see what happens with Jakobi Meyers, DJ Chark, Mecole Hardman, Parris Campbell and the rest from here.

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