Advertisement

The Rams sign QB Jimmy Garoppolo to back up Matthew Stafford; add safety Kamren Curl

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has signed with the Los Angeles Rams as the backup to Matthew Stafford.

Safety Kamren Curl also agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Rams on Friday.

Garoppolo was released Wednesday by the Las Vegas Raiders after one disappointing season. He is best known to Rams fans from his years with the archrival San Francisco 49ers from 2017-22, during which he went 8-0 as a starter against Los Angeles in the regular season.

Rams coach Sean McVay has spoken admiringly of the 32-year-old Garoppolo for years, and now the veteran passer will be the primary backup to Stafford. The Super Bowl-winning star is returning for his 16th NFL season after a strong bounce-back performance in 2023.

Garoppolo made six starts last season for the Raiders before getting benched midway through the season. He threw nine interceptions and seven TD passes in the first season of his three-year, $72.75 million contract, but new coach Antonio Pierce moved away from Garoppolo after taking over.

Garoppolo also got a two-game NFL suspension last month for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, which means he won't be available to play for the Rams until Week 3.

Garoppolo had his best years in San Francisco under Kyle Shanahan, McVay's good friend and former coworker. While never an elite starter, Garoppolo racked up 13,599 yards passing with 82 touchdowns and 42 interceptions during his six seasons under Shanahan, making 55 starts for the Niners.

Garoppolo's only loss to the Rams as a starter was in the NFC championship game in January 2021.

He is the most accomplished quarterback to be signed as a backup during the seven-year Rams tenure of McVay, who has usually chosen to go with unproven younger players behind Jared Goff and Stafford — sometimes to save money.

The Rams began last year with rookie Stetson Bennett as Stafford's backup, but the two-time college national champion left the team for undisclosed reasons before the regular season and never returned.

Brett Rypien struggled through 1 1/2 games as Stafford's replacement while the star was injured, and Los Angeles signed Carson Wentz late in the season. Wentz performed well in his only significant appearance for Los Angeles in Week 18, beating the 49ers while both teams were resting key players for the postseason.

The Rams also struggled with unaccomplished backups while Stafford was injured in 2022 before signing Baker Mayfield for the final five games. Mayfield parlayed his encouraging stint under McVay into a successful new start with Tampa Bay last season.

Curl's deal is worth $8.75 million and could be worth up to $12.75 million. He spent his first four NFL seasons with the Washington Commanders, and quickly became a key component of their defense, earning a starting job midway through his rookie season.

Curl played both safety spots and frequently took on the responsibilities of a linebacker in the Commanders' defensive scheme. He had a career-high 115 tackles last season.

He could be the replacement for Jordan Fuller, who is signing with Carolina as a free agent after starting all 17 games for the Rams last season. John Johnson, who is a free agent, and Russ Yeast started at the other safety spot last year.

Fuller has been a starter whenever healthy in his four seasons with Los Angeles, but an ankle injury sidelined him for the entire postseason two years ago, including the Rams' Super Bowl victory in February 2022. Fuller then missed most of the 2022 season with a hamstring injury before returning last season.

Curl joins a defense that has already added cornerback Darious Williams in free agency while seeking to restock a secondary that was likely its weakest point last season. The defense also must manage the loss of star defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who announced his retirement Friday.

The defense also will have a new coordinator, with Chris Shula replacing Raheem Morris.

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL