Jimmy Garoppolo has permission to seek a trade. Analyzing four possible destinations7 min read
The 49ers officially have restarted their efforts to trade Jimmy Garoppolo and his agents are working toward that end, too. That underscores the fact the team very much wants to move its former starter (and his about $25 million salary) and that Garoppolo doesn’t want to be part of a franchise that clearly sees its future in Trey Lance.
But does that dynamic lend itself to a favorable trade, especially since Garoppolo still is working his way into form after a March surgery on his throwing shoulder? There are many creative ways to engineer a deal as the Baker Mayfield-to-Carolina deal earlier this month illustrated. In this piece, The Athletic’s Michael Shawn-Dugar, Zac Jackson and Adam Coleman make their best offers for Garoppolo and David Lombardi plays the part of 49ers GM John Lynch, evaluating his options and ultimately making a decision. — Matt Barrows
How has Garoppolo stacked up within advanced metrics to other QBs?
You’d think any team would love to have a quarterback with a 0.16 rate in Offensive Total Expected Points Added (via TruMedia) from the past four seasons, yet Garoppolo’s path still seems lost. His four-year rate ranks eighth overall among qualified quarterbacks (passers with at least 100 passing attempts in the four-year span).
His 0.14 EPA rate from 2021 ranked ninth in the league, ahead of those from Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins and Josh Allen. Garoppolo’s EPA ranged from good to very good the past four seasons: 0.13 in 2018, 0.19 in 2019, 0.14 in 2020, 0.14 in 2021. How much of that is because of Garoppolo and how much of that is because of the overall offensive success is debatable. Regardless, it shows Garoppolo can help guide teams to wins given the right circumstances. — Larry Holder
Our Giants offer
What can you offer in a trade? The Giants are far from settled when it comes to their quarterback of the future. But they’re pretty well set for 2022. The Giants declined Daniel Jones’ fifth-year option for 2023, setting this up to be a make-or-break season for the No. 6 pick in 2019. If Jones delivers this fall, the Giants can keep him with the franchise tag or an extension. If he flops, the franchise can walk away with no strings attached and begin their search for a new franchise QB, probably in next year’s draft.
Also, the Giants signed veteran Tyrod Taylor this spring to a two-year, $11 million deal to back up Jones. In short, they’re likely riding with these two guys in 2022 come hell or high water. The only way I could see the Giants making even a semi-serious push for Garoppolo would be if Jones gets hurt during the preseason, and even then, Jimmy G. might already have been moved out of San Francisco. It seems highly unlikely they’ll even make an offer, but I don’t know, what about a sixth-round pick in 2023?
How can it work with the Giants’ cap? Thanks to some serious cost-cutting this spring by new Giants general manager Joe Schoen — which included the releases of James Bradberry, Logan Ryan, Kyle Rudolph and more — the team managed to get far enough under the salary cap to sign its draft picks. But the Giants still have very little space — less than $5 million — making a pursuit of Garoppolo even less likely. To even consider a deal, Garoppolo’s salary would have to be repackaged to a much lower number. — Dan Duggan
Our Texans offer
What can you offer in a trade? The connection between Jimmy Garoppolo and the Texans has been a constant talking point for obvious reasons, most prominently Texans general manager Nick Caserio, who was involved in the drafting of Garoppolo in New England in 2014 when Caserio was the Patriots’ director of player personnel. The Texans need to hold on to draft picks and might not have a lot of talent that San Francisco actually wants, so their package might be weak. Houston does have two third-round and three sixth-round picks in 2023. One of each could be enough depending on what the market dictates. Anything more than that feels like too much for someone coming off surgery on his throwing shoulder. Also, this isn’t the feelings business, but one would have to think Texans quarterback Davis Mills would be jarred by the move. General consensus around the league says Mills showed more than enough during his rookie season to earn a legitimate shot to be a starter in Houston.
How can it work with the Texans’ cap? It doesn’t currently. The Texans have a little more than $9 million in cap space but there is room to repackage Garoppolo’s $24.2 million base salary for less money since it isn’t guaranteed. Keep in mind, the Texans have an eye toward 2023 when they are projected to be among the league leaders in cap space. But again, regardless of the Patriots connection, for a team still in the early stages of a rebuild and focused on accumulating draft picks, it feels like the better move is to stick with Mills. — Adam Coleman
Our Browns offer
What can you offer in a trade? Not a lot, and that’s a key here. The Browns will be in on Garoppolo only if Deshaun Watson gets a suspension of more than half the 2022 season AND only if the Browns can get Garoppolo at something less than his current contract. Plan A for the Browns in the event of a Watson suspension has always been Jacoby Brissett, and the Browns would have concerns about Garoppolo’s injury history and hefty salary. Plus, the Browns already gave up so much for Watson they’re light on draft capital.
How can it work with the Browns’ cap? It could; going back to late March, the Browns have been structuring (and restructuring) big contracts to create cap room for 2022 and significant rollover for 2023. But that rollover will be important, and though the Browns have more than $48 million in ’22 cap room, they’d be hesitant to take on Garoppolo at his current salary. It seems like the Browns and 49ers fit here only if the Browns become the only real suitor. That and much financial haggling led to the Browns and Panthers getting the Baker Mayfield deal done, so stay tuned. — Zac Jackson
Our Seahawks offer
What can you offer in a trade? Well, the Seahawks wouldn’t want to offer much, for a few reasons. The 49ers are a division rival so doing much to make their roster better is just bad business. Also, Garoppolo has an injured shoulder. Even if Garoppolo feels good enough to play in a preseason game or two, can Seattle feel comfortable predicting how his arm will hold up taking hits in live action? And lastly: Garoppolo is expensive. Seattle has just south of $17 million in cap space, according to the NFLPA, so it would need San Francisco to eat some of Garoppolo’s $24.2 million base salary on the way out the door. With that in mind, along with the compensation Cleveland just received in exchange for trading away Baker Mayfield, the Seahawks in this scenario would be offering one of its two fifth-round picks in 2023 — if San Francisco eats at least $14.5 million of Garoppolo’s remaining salary. They’ll also throw in third-string quarterback Jacob Eason if San Francisco wants him.
How can it work with the Seahawks’ cap? The best version of Garoppolo is better than the best versions of Geno Smith and Drew Lock we’ve seen, so make no mistake this would be an upgrade to the quarterbacks room if Garoppolo’s shoulder is in good shape. But Seattle would still be paying Garoppolo more than it’s paying Smith ($3.5 million) and Lock ($1.4) combined. So, Seattle would need to do some salary-cap gymnastics to lower Garoppolo’s cap hit this season and allow for some wiggle room to make more transactions to improve other positions on the roster. As far as scheme fit, Garoppolo is a significant downgrade from Russell Wilson, but he can certainly make the same throws the Seahawks are asking Smith and Lock to make. — Michael-Shawn Dugar
Our 49ers decision
It looks like the Texans are offering the most draft compensation for Garoppolo in this scenario, so we’ll happily trade him to AFC for a third-round pick. Maybe the Browns will rethink their stance if Watson’s potential suspension ends up shelving him for all of 2022, but the 49ers’ primary motivation right now is obtaining something in return for Garoppolo — and Houston appears in line to deliver the best offer.
Now, it’s important to remember that none of Garoppolo’s $24.2 million base salary is guaranteed, so this situation is fundamentally different from Mayfield’s (whose $18.8 million salary was guaranteed, requiring him to make significant concessions). Garoppolo has no 2022 financial protection under his current contract until if and when he makes a 53-man roster Aug. 30, so the 49ers or any potential trade suitor should have leverage to reduce his cap number before then. That, of course, can allow a potential move to make more financial sense.
Ultimately, the 49ers are likely viewing that Aug. 30 date as a soft deadline: They want to receive a trade return on Garoppolo before they’re committed to paying him in 2022. They might benefit from injuries elsewhere during camp or other roster movement — such as that potential Watson suspension — to generate more outside demand for Garoppolo’s services.
The price here will likely be depressed simply because the 49ers — if they find no takers — appear to be incentivized to release Garoppolo by Aug. 30, but there might be value for another team in adding a new QB sooner rather than later and having a chance to negotiate a repackaged deal exclusively with him. That could be the driving force behind a trade.
Simply put, this is a fluid situation. But the introductory offers are all lukewarm, to say the least. But the Texans have presented the best one in this exercise. — David Lombardi
(Photo: Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today)