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Let’s review the increasingly baffling Jimmy Garoppolo trade outlook. We’ll start with five teams thought to be in the quarterback market and interested in the San Francisco 49ers QB.
• The New York Jets, whose coach worked around Garoppolo in San Francisco, think Joe Flacco is a better option than trading for Garoppolo. That, of course, makes sense because starter Zach Wilson is only going to miss one or two games following a knee injury and surgery.
• The Cleveland Browns, dealing with an 11-game suspension to starter Deshaun Watson, think Jacoby Brissett is a better option than trading for Garoppolo.
• The Seattle Seahawks don’t necessarily believe either Geno Smith or Drew Lock are better options than trading for Garoppolo. But they have so far held firm on not doing that. Seattle might simply be waiting for him to get cut so they can sign him to a team-friendly contract without giving up draft compensation.
• The Houston Texans, so far, believe Davis Mills is a better option than trading for Garoppolo.
• The Miami Dolphins, whose head coach worked around Garoppolo in San Francisco, are going with Tua Tagovailoa. Nick Mullens got traded from the Raiders to the Vikings Monday while Garoppolo remained untouched on the trade block.
• And then there’s the San Francisco 49ers. They have to trade or release Garoppolo by Sept. 10 to avoid guaranteeing his salary for the entire season and taking on a whopping $26.95 million cap charge for a backup quarterback.
So it’s logical for the 49ers to make a move if no team agrees to a trade.
And, yet, the 49ers are saying the opposite of what is logical. They’re saying they’re good having Garoppolo on the roster if it comes to that.
What Niners GM John Lynch Is Saying
General manager John Lynch has repeated time and again that Garoppolo is a good player and one does not simply give guys like that away on the cheap. And owner Jed York said he’s prepared to make Jimmy G the highest-paid backup quarterback in the entire league if that’s what’s necessary.
“I’ve said this before, you have to have enough good quarterbacks and good football players,” York said on the TK podcast recently. “I’m not going to get into roster discussions and what John and Kyle want to do. But I will support them in sort of anything that they want to make this team as good as it can possibly be.
“I watched it with Joe (Montana) and Steve (Young) and I realize the salary cap is different today than having no salary cap. But we’ve said it before: We’re happy to Jimmy. We’re happy to have him on the roster. And if that’s the case, then that’s the case.”
Nobody believes the 49ers are going to gobble up $26.95 million in cap space for a backup quarterback when they’re already discussing possibly keeping Nate Sudfeld and Brock Purdy on the 53-man roster, too.
This is a team being stubborn or an attempt at bluffing. Or sheer lunacy.
49ers Keeping Jimmy Garoppolo Affects Nick Bosa
If the 49ers are going to be stubborn and keep Garoppolo there’s going to be a price to pay. And, yes, that price comes due this year with the quarterback’s 2022 cap charge. But the fact is cap space can be carried over from one year to the next.
So jettisoning Garoppolo would give the Niners the chance to carry over up to $25.5 million in cap space to 2023. And that’s a big deal because next year the team is going to have to spend a good amount of its cap space on defensive end Nick Bosa.
Bosa is still on his rookie contract but he’s a cornerstone player on the roster so he’s going to ask for a contract extension next offseason before he hits the final season of his current deal.
It’s what happened with Deebo Samuel this year. And if the 49ers do not create the Garoppolo cap space this year they can carry over to next year, that looming Bosa extension is going to be more difficult to fit comfortably under the cap.
The Niners know all this. So if they’re bluffing about keeping Garoppolo they know that bluff comes with a Sept. 10 expiration date because that’s the date all veterans on NFL roster have their base salaries fully guaranteed for the entire season.
That’s the date the Garoppolo bill comes due in San Francisco.
Time Working Against 49ers On Garoppolo Decision
Time is on the side of teams interested in Garoppolo because they can wait until Sept. 10. And, come to think of it, what York said can be used as a bargaining tool against the Niners because a team can now ask the the 49ers to pay part of Garoppolo’s salary for the privilege of trading him.
That conversation would go something like this: “Jed, you’re willing to eat the whole $26.95 million to have him as your backup quarterback. Pay $10 million of that to get rid of him and you’ll save $16 million plus we’ll give you a draft pick.”
San Francisco agreeing to such a request has precedence. The Browns are paying a majority of Baker Mayfield’s salary this year as part of his trade to Carolina.
With each passing week, this is the way the Niners are going to have to go to make a Jimmy G trade work.
Or they can always keep the most expensive backup quarterback in the entire NFL.