While 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo continues to recover from shoulder surgery, San Francisco is doing all they can to ensure they don’t give away their former starter for too much of a bargain. While the team permitted Garoppolo to seek a trade, they’re willing to wait until roster cut-down day to move him, in order to get a maximum value, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
According to Rapoport, there just isn’t a perfect trade partner out there right now for Garoppolo to go to. When looking out at the quarterback rooms across the NFL, there isn’t really any team struggling enough to field a starting quarterback that they’d be willing to take on Garoppolo’s salary.
There are teams like the Falcons, who don’t have an ideal starting quarterback. Atlanta will employ Marcus Mariota as QB1 despite the fact that he hasn’t started a game since losing the Titans’ job to Ryan Tannehill in 2019. Some might think that it’d be worth it to bring in Garoppolo who, in the two full seasons he’s started, amassed a win-loss record of 22-9 and took San Francisco to the NFC championship game both years. But Atlanta likely isn’t willing to shell out $24MM for the last year of Garoppolo’s contract. Especially when Mariota has shown the ability to win games over his career and, even if Mariota is unsuccessful, he may just prove to be a stopgap to give rookie third-round pick Desmond Ridder time to adjust to the NFL.
The Steelers are in a similar boat to the Falcons. Pittsburgh will utilize Mitchell Trubisky as a starter as Kenny Pickett grows into an NFL starter. The Panthers were in a similar boat, starting Sam Darnold with Matt Corral waiting in the wings, before they made the move for Baker Mayfield, who is still on his much more team-friendly rookie contract.
The Seahawks are a team who would instantly improve with the addition of Garoppolo. He would provide an upgrade to either Geno Smith or Drew Lock, but Seattle has made it abundantly clear that they are fine moving forward with the Smith-Lock quarterback battle. What’s more likely is that they would prefer their current situation over having to take on Garoppolo’s contract.
There are a couple other teams out there who have a starting quarterback in place, but they are either a short-term veteran without much of a backup plan or a young starter who may not have the franchise totally convinced yet.
For the former scenario, we look at the Colts and Rams. Indianapolis brought in former Falcons’ franchise quarterback Matt Ryan, in exchange for a third-round pick, to be their starter. Ryan is six seasons removed from his MVP season and five seasons removed from his last winning record. Behind the 37-year-old Ryan is 33-year-old Nick Foles and unproven youngsters Sam Ehlinger and Jack Coan. Bringing in the 30-year-old, proven starter, Garoppolo, could put an end to the Colts’ one-year rental system at quarterback that they’ve been employing in recent years. But, seemingly, the price tag of $24MM is too much to pay for the potential of longevity at the quarterback position.
As for the Rams, don’t get mad. It’s understood that Matthew Stafford won them a Super Bowl just last year and they rewarded him with a four-year extensions, but, hear me out: he’s 34 years old. While he is a perfectly serviceable quarterback for now, to call him a plan for the future would just be unrealistic. Beyond Stafford, the Rams roster John Wofford, Bryce Perkins, and Luis Perez. Adding Garoppolo would be a plan for the long-term future of the team, but Los Angeles is likely to balk at taking on Garoppolo’s contract just for him to sit until Stafford is done playing.
For the teams with young talent who have yet to convince their teams they’re legit, we have the Lions, the Texans, the Giants, the Dolphins, and the Eagles. Now, in Detroit, Goff is a veteran at this point, but is still only 27-years-old. He’s shown plenty of winning ability during his six-year career but struggled to find success after leaving a talented Rams team for the Lions. The Texans have expressed their full faith in Davis Mills, who started 11 games for Houston last year as a rookie. Mills struggled to find team success, but showed promised as a starting quarterback late in the season, enough so to prevent the Texans from using either of their two first-round picks (or any of their nine total draft picks) on a quarterback. Detroit and Houston are in the unfortunate position of having little-to-no reliable depth at quarterback, which could leave them in extremely uncomfortable positions if either starter fails to progress or gets injured.
The Giants, Dolphins, and Eagles all have young starters, too, but they all have a decent backup option as a potential safeguard. The Giants will head into Year 4 with Daniel Jones under center but have veteran Tyrod Taylor to back him up. The Dolphins are still experimenting with Tua Tagovailoa but they roster veteran Teddy Bridgewater as a backup option. And Philadelphia is rolling with Jalen Hurts but have another youngster with starting experience behind him in Gardner Minshew.
All five of those teams would love to have Garoppolo come in as a failsafe to make sure that they can win football games if their young starters fail to develop. But none of them need that assurance badly enough to warrant taking on his cap hit.
So the 49ers wait. They realize that, right now, the only way they’re going to be able to exchange Garoppolo is by giving up value. That could mean eating some of Garoppolo’s contract to make the deal more palatable or realizing less of a return in the trade. Regardless, San Francisco has been adamant about getting Garoppolo’s worth.
They wait and will continue to wait because a lot can happen before the roster cut deadline. Any team could experience an extremely unfortunate season-ending injury to their starting quarterback, and, if that occurs, Garoppolo’s value shoots right back up. It’s a waiting game in the Bay Area, and they are nothing if not patient.