It is not an easy thing, telling a 10-year NFL veteran he’s getting moved to the bench. But that’s what new coach Antonio Pierce did this week with Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Fortunately for Pierce, it went about as well as could be expected.
His message was blunt, he said.
“You’re sensitive to it, but you’re direct. You just nip it in the bud, which we did. We talked about it like grown men,” the Raiders coach said of his conversation with Garoppolo, per NBC Sports. “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% this is how we’re going to do it.’ Things can happen.”
For now, what is going to happen is that Aidan O’Connell will be the starter for the Raiders. He has started once here in his rookie season, in Week 4 against the Chargers, and while he did show promise in nearly leading a Raiders comeback, he was also sacked seven times, fumbled three times (two for turnovers) and threw an interception.
O’Connell also appeared in relief of Brian Hoyer in the Raiders’ Week 8 loss in Chicago. On the season, he has completed 34 passes on 52 attempts for 313 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Pierce Appreciates Jimmy Garoppolo Being a ‘Pro’
Pierce is expecting that for the rest of the Raiders season Jimmy Garoppolo will give O’Connell his full support going forward. Garoppolo has been in a variety of roles during his NFL career, too, starting as a backup to Tom Brady in New England, and moving in and out of the starting group in San Francisco.
“I’m very appreciative to Jimmy,” Pierce said. “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.”
As starter for the Raiders, Jimmy Garoppolo could not put things together. In six games, he went 3-3, completed 65.5% of his passes and threw for 1,205 yards. He has seven touchdown throws this year, but leads the league with nine interceptions.
Raiders Future in Question for Jimmy G
Pierce is right in that it’s impossible to say what will happen with the Jimmy Garoppolo and the Raiders from here. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk floated the possibility this week that Garoppolo could simply be released to ensure the team does not have to pay the $11.25 million roster bonus that is in Garoppolo’s contract for next season.
Perhaps the Raiders want to keep Garoppolo around as the backup, though, because Hoyer, who is 37, is the only other option on the roster behind O’Connell. Or, perhaps, the Raiders could cut Garoppolo loose and try to poach a young quarterback from another team’s practice squad.
Either way, we’re not likely to see Garoppolo in a Raiders uniform any time soon. Or, maybe, ever again.