The 49ers have agreed to acquire quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. San Francisco owns two 2018 second-rounders, but New England will acquire the 49ers’ original pick, per Schefter (Twitter link).
The deal is a stunning transaction on multiple levels, but perhaps the most curious aspect of the trade is that New England hadn’t expressed in any interest in moving Garoppolo despite the presence of Tom Brady under center. Bill Belichick & Co. reportedly rejected multiple trade offers in exchange for Garoppolo before the draft, and instead dealt third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett before the season began.
But instead of potentially using the franchise tag on Garoppolo next spring before trying to trade him, New England has moved him now following talks that began Monday morning, per Schefter (Twitter link). The fourth-year pro will head to San Francisco, where he’ll become the starting quarterback under head coach Kyle Shanahan not only for the rest of the 2017 campaign, but for the foreseeable future.
Garoppolo, of course, offers limited NFL experience, as he’s spent the majority of his Patriots tenure as Brady’s understudy. But the Eastern Illinois product was able to start two games for New England in 2016 while Brady was serving a four-game suspension. While Garoppolo played well in his time on the field, he was injured early in his second start, meaning the regular season film on him is extremely limited.
The 49ers will also need to work out an extension for Garoppolo, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next season. While San Francisco could use the franchise tag in 2018, the club presumably wouldn’t have traded for Garoppolo if it didn’t have every intention of handing him a long-term contract. The 49ers rank in the top-five of cap space in each of the next three seasons, meaning they have ample funds to spend on their new signal-caller.
San Francisco’s acquisition of Garoppolo also has wide-ranging implications for the rest of the league and the 2018 quarterback market. Given the presence of Shanahan, the 49ers have long been viewed as the No. 1 destination for Redskins passer Kirk Cousins, who will become a free agent next spring barring a third consecutive franchise tender. San Francisco is now out of the Cousins equation, making next year’s open market all the more complicated.
The Patriots, meanwhile, are clearly banking on Brady (now age-40) playing for several more seasons, something he’s vowed to do. In the near-term, New England will need to add another quarterback, as Brady is now the only signal-caller on the club’s roster. The Pats auditioned several signal-callers, including Matt Barkley and Matt McGloin, earlier this year.
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