This offseason was one of change for NFL quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He left the San Francisco 49ers after spending almost six seasons in the NFC West, and signed a three-year deal to start for the Las Vegas Raiders. He also joined the Air Force -- at least for one day.
Garoppolo recently partnered with USAA, Official NFL Salute to Service Partner, and Team Whistle to experience a day-in-the-life with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. There, he became "Jimmy 9Gs" after experiencing 9Gs in an F-16 fighter jet.
"It was something like I've never experienced before," Garoppolo told CBS Sports. "USAA called me up, we got this whole thing set up. They really took care of me, man. Honestly it was an unbelievable experience. Talk about an emotional roller coaster, it was every bit of that."
It's evident there's plenty to do in Las Vegas, but Jimmy G is there to play football. Garoppolo is an incredible 40-17 as a starter in the regular season over the course of his career. That .702 career win percentage is tied for the sixth-best by any NFL starting quarterback since the merger, and Vegas is hoping he brings some wins with him from Cali. So why did Garoppolo choose the Raiders in free agency? Well, it was more than just one thing.
"A lot of different reasons," said Garoppolo. "I think familiarity, chance to win, good team around me. Those are all some big things -- I think all those put together. I came on a visit here, coaching staff and me had a lot of relationships in the past and it just seemed like the right spot, it seemed like the right thing to do and I'm happy it's worked out so well."
One of the familiarities Garoppolo has found in Vegas is head coach Josh McDaniels, who served as his offensive coordinator for three seasons with the New England Patriots. Jimmy G says he's picked up on some of those offensive concepts he remembers from his first few years in the league.
"Obviously the offense grows ever year, it evolves in different ways just as the NFL does," said Garoppolo. "But definitely some familiarities. The verbiage is basically the same as when I was with him in New England, so that's pretty nice to come back to that."
The Patriots connections don't stop there either, as the quarterback Jimmy G backed up once upon a time, the legendary Tom Brady, became a this offseason.
"It's been really cool, it's been really cool" Garoppolo said with a laugh. "I got to see him in Dallas this weekend. I haven't seen him in a while but he's still the same old guy, man. Loves to compete, was getting us fired up in the locker room, all that good stuff. And he's one of the best, man. One of the best people and best players obviously, but just a good dude overall."
Garoppolo suffered a season-ending foot injury in early December last year, and that injury actually followed him to Vegas in a way. Not only did Garoppolo reportedly require a procedure in the offseason, but a report from Pro Football Talk in May revealed that Garoppolo's new contract that allowed the team to cut him without any repercussions should he not be able to pass a physical -- something . Pro Football Talk reported that the waiver becomes null and void if Jimmy G passes a physical, is active for at least one regular-season game and does not suffer re-injury to his left foot.
"I'm always surprised with half the things that make headlines. But that's part of the life we live, man," Garoppolo said. "But you get used to it. It was kind of just a formality type of thing. I mean you gotta do that after surgery, I totally get that. But yeah it got a little blown out of proportion that's for sure."
In Vegas, Garoppolo has an intriguing wide receiving corps headlined by Davante Adams, and former Patriot Jakobi Meyers. Adams, of course, is one of the best wideouts in the NFL, and averaged a career-high 14.7 yards per touch in 2022. He ranked No. 9 in catches (100), No. 3 in receiving yards (1,516) and No. 1 in receiving touchdowns (14). Overall, Jimmy G says he likes what he's seen from his new weaponry throughout the preseason.
"The receiving corps as a whole has really impressed me," Garoppolo said. "Those guys, they get the little details, they're all tied in together. Really they share information with each other which is really cool to talk about how they ran a route, try to teach the younger guys. Tre (Tucker) is really catching on with those guys and learning from the more experienced guys. That group as a whole has really impressed me, it's been a good group to work with."
Another key weapon for the Raiders Josh Jacobs agreed to terms on a one-year contract that is worth up to $12 million after receiving the franchise tag earlier this offseason. He was the NFL's leading rusher in 2022, racking up 1,653 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 340 carries. Jacobs also led the league in scrimmage yards with 2,053, and in avoided tackles with 103., as running back
"Getting Josh back, it was exciting," said Garoppolo. "Got to meet him for the first time [Sunday]. Great dude, down to earth, seems like he's ready to work. Just a lot of energy, lot of energy in the building, you could feel it, it was a little different [Sunday]. Glad everything worked out. They all got that thing figured out and we kinda knew it would happen we just didn't know when. It was definitely a big day [Sunday]."
Between the failed trade attempt of the 49ers last offseason and the 2022 foot injury all leading to Garoppolo finally finding his new NFL home, the last two years have certainly been an experience for Jimmy G. However, he doesn't appear to view his current situation as the greener grass on the other side he was searching for, or the passing storm now in the rearview mirror. Garoppolo notes his experiences have shaped who he is today.
"I think every year you kind of learn a little bit more about yourself. You get put through difficult times, tough times. But as long as you can make it through those and come out better on the other end, that's all I'm trying to do really," said Garoppolo. "So I think those five years with the Niners -- had great times, loved them, great experiences. But it helps you grow, helps you evolve as a person, as a player and going through those tough times and good times together I think have made me who I am. I learned a lot through it, still learning, trying to keep growing each and every day. But I think we're moving in the right direction. "