If the Vikings Want a Bridge QB, the Ultimate Bridge QB Is Now Available

Jan 22, 2022; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) in action against the Green Bay Packers during a NFC Divisional playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

In recent weeks, the idea has been floated around a few times that the Minnesota Vikings could target a bridge QB this spring.

This would, of course, come as a byproduct of the Vikings deciding not to re-sign Kirk Cousins. While they potentially could draft an immediate replacement, there have been a few insiders to toss out the idea that a bridge quarterback could be in play for Minnesota in 2024.

During Sunday morning’s episode of NFL Insiders on NFL Network, Tom Pelissero alluded to this idea, saying, “[The Vikings] would like to re-sign Kirk Cousins, who is set to become a free agent in March, but my anticipation is Cousins will have a strong market even at age-35 coming off a torn Achilles. […] If in fact the price tag goes too high, the Vikings likely would pursue a more economical veteran. One guy that’s a possibility? Sam Darnold, the 49ers current backup.”

While Pelissero tossed out the idea of Darnold potentially going to Minnesota, a new quarterback has become available in the past 24 hours. That player is Jimmy Garoppolo, who is being released from the Las Vegas Raiders after it was discovered he would be serving a two-game suspension for a PED violation.

Another Bridge QB Option Is Available for Vikings

Aug 13, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) walks off the field after the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Schefter of ESPN had the suspension news first, tweeting, “Raiders QB Jimmy Garoppolo is being suspended two games for violating the NFL’s Performance Enhancing Substances Policy, league sources told ESPN. The policy violation is related to him using a prescribed medication without having a valid Therapeutic Use Exemption, per sources.”

Schefter then followed up with this tidbit on Garoppolo being released, “The Raiders are expected to release Jimmy Garoppolo before the fifth day of the new league year in mid-March, when he would earn an $11.25 million roster bonus, per sources.”

The veteran quarterback will now be looking for a new team for the second consecutive offseason. Garoppolo left the San Francisco 49ers following the 2022 season, which was cut short because of a foot injury. He opted to join the Las Vegas Raiders where he started six games in 2023 before rookie Aidan O’Connell took over the job down the stretch.

Nov 26, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) looks on during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Garoppolo began his NFL career in New England as the backup QB to Tom Brady. His career trajectory took off when he started two games during the 2016 season in replacement of Brady while he was serving his own suspension. With Garoppolo under center, the Patriots went 2-0, and the QB completed 71% of his passes for 496 yards and four touchdowns.

The following offseason, Garoppolo signed with the San Francisco 49ers where he spent the next six seasons. The 49ers went 38-17 with Garoppolo as a starter, and he led them to a Super Bowl berth during the 2019 season and another NFC Championship Game appearance in 2021.

However, injuries limited Garoppolo’s effectiveness with the 49ers. He played six or fewer games during three of his six seasons in San Francisco, and his 2022 season also ended with an IR stint. This resulted in Garoppolo heading to Las Vegas where he struggled over his six starts. He threw for just 1205 yards, seven touchdowns, and nine interceptions.

Bridge QB
Jan 11, 2020; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) interacts with the crowd before the start of the game against the Minnesota Vikings in a NFC Divisional Round playoff football game at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Garoppolo may not have the capability of being a full-time starter in the NFL, but he has a track record of helping bring along young quarterbacks. He stuck it out in San Francisco despite the 49ers having plans to replace him with Trey Lance, and ultimately, they turned things over to Brock Purdy in 2022. Then, the Raiders went on to replace Garoppolo with O’Connell in 2023.

Of course, Garoppolo won’t be able to play the first two games of the 2024 season wherever he goes, but if the Vikings cannot bring back Cousins and want a veteran in their QB room, Garoppolo could be one of the better options on the free agency market.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.