If you’re a fan of a quarterback-needy team, Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo might have looked enticing with their recent playoff performances. Garoppolo gutted out San Francisco’s 23-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys to set up a showdown with the Green Bay Packers this weekend.
Despite the loss, Carr threw for 310 yards and almost engineered a fourth-quarter comeback for the Las Vegas Raiders.
Then again, if you’re a fan of either of the teams they’re currently on, well, their performances might have been the latest confirmation that they need to go.
As the Washington Football Team and a handful of other franchises around the NFL seek an upgrade at quarterback this offseason, the NFL playoffs are a prime time for those fanbases to closely examine names that have long been rumored to be available via trade. Garoppolo, in particular, is thought to be a likely candidate to be moved because the 49ers have first-rounder Trey Lance waiting eagerly behind him. Carr’s future, on the other hand, depends on the next Raiders’ regime.
Both quarterbacks are polarizing. Just how much of an upgrade would either be? At what cost? As talented as the two have shown they can be, each has limitations.
Garoppolo, a 30-year-old veteran, struggles on deep throws and his lengthy injury history makes him a risky bet. Coming off the win over the Cowboys, Garoppolo is preparing for the Packers with an injured shoulder and thumb. On Sunday, Garoppolo battled through pain as he helped stave off a late Dallas push.
The knock on Carr is that he’s not aggressive enough and inconsistent beyond his first read. In last weekend’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Carr, 30, completed only 53.7% of his passes while throwing 54 times.
But both quarterbacks not only got their teams to the postseason with clutch play. Carr’s 282.6 yards per game were a career high, while Garoppolo ranked as one of the league’s most efficient passers in advanced metrics like expected points added.
Carr helped the Raiders sneak into the playoffs with a four-game winning streak. Garoppolo led a second-half comeback against the Los Angeles Rams to help clinch a playoff spot for San Francisco. Their teams likely wouldn’t have gotten to the playoffs without them. And if that’s the case, will the 49ers and the Raiders really look to move on?
“The thing is we don’t know who’s going to be available,” Washington coach Ron Rivera said earlier this month. “You’re going to have to look at it and if you have any inkling or thought, you’re going to go through in your mind, go through the process and see if that’s a viable entity.”
Rivera’s comments alluded to this simple truth in the NFL: Circumstances can change fast. It was only months ago that Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers looked like he was going to be the crown jewel of the upcoming offseason — with a slew of teams lining up to trade for him. But now, the Packers look like a Super Bowl contender, and there are serious doubts whether Rodgers will actually look to push his way out of Green Bay.
For example, if Garoppolo leads the 49ers to another Super Bowl — they made it in 2019 — perhaps San Francisco’s brass will be convinced to stick with the quarterback for another year. Similarly, maybe the Raiders’ next coach will be convinced Carr should stay.
If not, the next question centers around what a team would actually have to give up to land one of them. The Los Angeles Rams traded multiple draft picks, including two first-rounders, for Matthew Stafford, though ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported some teams don’t think that Garoppolo would command a first. Carr’s potential trade value is just as complicated, with former Washington coach Jay Gruden telling The Athletic that a Stafford-like package may not be worth it for Las Vegas.
The rumors won’t stop anytime soon.
“I know what type of quarterback I am,” Garoppolo told NBC Sports’ Peter King. “I know what type of player I am in this league and where I stand. All the noise out there and everything, keep it coming. It fuels me and it keeps me going.”