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What Options Do the 49ers Have With Jimmy Garoppolo?

Jimmy Garoppolo Trade

With just a few weeks left until the NFL regular season begins, Jimmy Garoppolo still remains on the San Francisco 49ers roster.

While he currently sits fourth on San Francisco’s depth chart, the reality is the team cannot keep him on the roster at his nearly $27 million price tag. They are entering a phase where they’re going to have a much harder time managing the cap after extending Deebo Samuel, signing Charvarius Ward and preparing to extend Nick Bosa.

To keep Garoppolo on the roster at his $27 million cap hit would really be taking a very, very short-term approach to team building, which is something they have actually done since Kyle Shanahan got there. They’ve had a much greater sense of urgency to win. But the scale of this decision–for somebody who doesn’t have a real chance of even playing–is hard to do.

Releasing the oft-injured veteran would save the team $25.55 million, which they could then roll over into their cap outlook for 2023 and beyond.

The 49ers could also trade Garoppolo—like they’ve been trying to do ever since the end of the 2021 season—which could prove to be incredibly difficult this close to the season. I’m only being a little sarcastic when I say San Francisco must be praying for another team’s misfortune at the quarterback position. At this point, they’re really in the hands of other teams’ beliefs and the potential of injuries that we’ve actually started to see a little bit.

At this point, they are dependent upon a Zack Wilson-type of injury in the preseason or a change in philosophy from the Browns after the Watson 11-game suspension settlement. Even a team like the Texans or Seahawks changing their mind that they have the solution in-house and crossing their fingers in the 2023 Draft.

While these situations are a long shot, if one or two of those things happen, they actually have a chance to play people off against each other. However, the Browns don’t have a first-round pick the next two years after trading for Watson, and they’re going to be in the most challenged cap position going forward of any team in the league. Cleveland will have to hit on draft picks moving forward to keep their roster competitive.

Even if Wilson proves to be healthy enough to play all 17 games this season, I don’t think the Jets are going to do well regardless of who their quarterback is. Plus, if Wilson proves to be the long-term answer, New York is only a year or two out from having huge cap challenges of their own.

The draft capital San Francisco could likely get for Garoppolo would be similar to what the Panthers were willing to give up for Baker Mayfield. Being this trade must happen before the season since his contract will become fully guaranteed if he is on the roster in Week 1, the 49ers might only get a conditional fifth-round pick. 

They’d also likely need to adjust his current contract for a team to take him, which would require the participation of the player—essentially giving the player veto power.

In the end, the 49ers are not going to get much back for Garoppolo and may even end up having to cut him. Having been with a team that traded their long-time franchise quarterback, who brought the team to the Super Bowl, that is a very difficult decision to make. Even if it may be in the best interest of both the player and team—for the short as well as the long term—it is a very tough conversation to have.

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