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Raiders View Garoppolo as Better Culture Fit Than Carr

Concerns over Carr arose during his first year with Josh McDaniels, who is deeply familiar with Garoppolo from their time in New England. Free agency is well underway … • By midseason, the Raiders knew they may be pulling the mid-February escape hatch they’d built into Derek Carr’s three-year extension. And one reason they felt, at the time, like they’d be on solid ground to do it is because there promised to 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 of it, at $22.5 million per—with the latter. Garoppolo’s deal calls for $22.5 million in each year as the starting point, with an $11.25 million roster bonus due next March fully guaranteed now, to bring the guarantee total to $33.75 million (how much would be due if they cut bait after next 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, coming to a total of $1.53 million each year, and $1.5 million in playoff incentives each year. That can get him past his camp’s target of $25 million per. ORR: Everyone Wins With Jimmy G Joining the Raiders O.K., 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 get that wrong again at that position. They aren’t guessing on whether Garoppolo will be better in that regard. They know. The other thing is that McDaniels really does believe in Garoppolo. He wasn’t surprised in the least at the quarterback flourishing at the end of his first season in San Francisco, and always thought there was a little more there that the injuries wound up concealing. So now, the 31-year-old essentially takes the spot Carr held—playing the role that Alex Smith did in Kansas City as the Chiefs waited for Patrick Mahomes to come along—and the Raiders brass can continue to build the roster up elsewhere. Is it a home run landing Garoppolo? Maybe not. But it’s certainly not out of left field. Jimmy Garoppolo is getting another shot at starting in Las Vegas.Sergio Estrada/USA TODAY Sports • I acknowledge that what I’m about to present is going seem dumb to some. That’s fine. But I think when you’re looking at new Bears LB Tremaine Edmunds, the No. 1 thing to consider is prototypes. And that’s how you can look at his arrival in Chicago, and Roquan Smith’s departure in the fall (in exchange for a second-round pick) and square the two. In Indianapolis, with Matt Eberflus as DC, the Colts drafted two off-ball linebackers who would grow into long-term starters—Shaq Leonard and Bobby Okereke. Both fit a mold. They were over 6'1", but more than that, they had length and speed to shrink the field for the offense. Both had a wingspan topping 82", putting them in the 98th percentile for the position. Both had arms topping 34", 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). Edmunds, meanwhile, has an 83" wingspan and 34.5" arms, landing him in the 98th and 97th percentile in those categories. And so Smith was traded away, and Edmunds was paid to arrive. Here’s the thing—I don’t think the Bears’ decision making here was any sort of indictment on Smith. More so, it’s an ode to Matt Eberflus’s roots. He learned the zone-heavy defense he runs, one that puts a premium on linebackers who can cover ground and get their hands in passing lands, from Rod Marinelli. Marinelli, of course, once had a big, long linebacker himself with the Bears. And Brian Urlacher set a pretty good—and big, fast and long—standard for those coaches to work off of. • The Chiefs’ plan, for now, is have Jawaan Taylor replace Orlando Brown Jr. as the team’s left tackle—a position Taylor last started at in college (and he started at left tackle for only two games at Florida). It’s a projection, to be sure, but line coach Andy Heck shepherded the same sort of project 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 for Taylor to play on the left, with the flexibility to have him on the right, opens the team’s options at the position in the draft. So if they draft Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison at 31, maybe they’ll move Taylor back to right tackle. But with the shot to have Taylor play left tackle, it opens up the possibility of taking a right tackle by trade, like Tennessee’s Darnell Wright or Ohio State’s Dawand Jones, at that spot. • Those were two contracts, by the way, that really were rock solid after a closer look at the details. Taylor’s deal netted $20 million cash in each of its four years, and had a practical guarantee of $60 million—that number will lock in next March, and to cut him before then would mean paying him $40 million for a single year. Edmunds, meanwhile, gets $42 million in the first two years of his deal, and a third-year guarantee (this one for $9.5 million) that, as was the case in Taylor’s contracts, vests after the first year of the deal. Which is to say there’s strong belief from Kansas City and Chicago that those signings are going to work. • The Jonnu Smith trade makes the tight end feel like the reverse of Patrick Chung for New England. Chung was a player that the Patriots always had a vision for. He played four injury-riddled seasons in Foxborough at the start of his career, then took a contract in Philly. It didn’t work, and he returned and had a very solid second stint in Foxborough. Smith is similar. Arthur Smith had a very clean plan for how to use him, both as his position coach and his coordinator, in Tennessee. The tight end then left for a payday in New England, and the Patriots never quite found the right fit for him in their offense. And now he’ll return to play for his old coach, now the head coach in Atlanta, and my guess would be that it’ll work, the same way returning to the Patriots once did for Chung. The idea, anyway, is worth the seventh-round flier the Falcons took on him. • Hat tip to Falcons GM Terry Fontenot on that 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 reserve safety Dean Marlowe to the Bills after Buffalo lost Micah Hyde for the season. So by having a little depth on his roster, Fontenot may have come away with a starting-caliber tight end to pair with Kyle Pitts. • I’ll be curious to see when Orlando Brown Jr. comes off the board. Taylor and Mike McGlinchey both got paid, and Brown is sitting there as the top tackle. My understanding is that Brown’s been 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’s hurting his market, especially with the number of Shanahan-influenced teams that favor smaller linemen. • Speaking of McGlinchey, the Broncos going in on him and Titans free agent guard Ben Powers is a good early indicator of Sean Payton’s influence in Denver. For years in New Orleans, Payton poured draft and cap resources into his offensive lines, trusting that he’d be able to figure it out with a little less at the skill positions (very few skill players got monster contracts there until Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara did at the end of his run). That seems to be happening with Payton’s new team now. Which is good news for Russell Wilson. • The Texans allowing for Garoppolo to go to Vegas seems to be a strong sign that they plan to take a quarterback second in the draft. As we mentioned this morning, in our column on the Bears-Panthers trade, Chicago did have some talks with Houston on the Texans moving up from No. 2 to 1, and Carolina didn’t even call them because they were convinced that Nick Caserio was taking a signal-caller. • A year after the explosion in receiver money, it’s been quiet at the position on the first day of free agency. Teams operating with caution? We’ll see what happens with Jakobi Meyers, DJ Chark, Mecole Hardman, Parris Campbell and the rest of them from here.

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