The oddest thing about the Jimmy Garoppolo saga right now? Nobody seems to want him.
Well, nobody seems to want him enough.
That was clear even before Wednesday offered the latest weird chapter to this story when ESPN exclusively and breathlessly “reported” the San Francisco 49ers have given the agents for their erstwhile starting quarterback permission to seek a trade.
The “report” quoted a team source.
Pretty good stuff except for the fact 49ers general manager John Lynch told reporters at the NFL annual meeting in March the club had given Garoppolo and his representatives permission to seek a trade.
So the big news was, well, there was none except for this: NFL training camps open next week and the 49ers are opening Wednesday at their SAP Performance Facility. And they would really, really love to have Garoppolo traded by then.
Or by next month.
Or definitely before the first week of the NFL regular season.
Because if the 49ers have Garoppolo on their roster the first week of the regular season, then the $24.2 million base salary the quarterback is due this season becomes fully guaranteed and the 49ers are on the hook for it.
And that not only has salary cap repercussions this year but also in 2023 because not having Garoppolo’s salary on this year’s cap would help the team carry over part or all of the savings to their ’23 cap space, thus giving the team more space then.
So trading Garoppolo before the regular season is important for the 49ers.
Having Garoppolo around at the beginning of camp next week, mostly not practicing to any significant degree as he continues to work at getting his throwing shoulder fully healthy, will feel a little awkward for a lot of folks.
It would be awkward for Garoppolo, who a source said this week would rather be on to a new team with a new contract.
It would be awkward for presumptive starting quarterback Trey Lance, who would rather not have the Garoppolo presence potentially overshadowing him as he tries to secure the starting job.
And it could be awkward for the entire locker room that would rather not have two potential starting quarterbacks, neither thrilled about the situation.
This is why the 49ers want to find a trade partner for Garoppolo. This is why Garoppolo and his representatives are searching to find a trade partner.
Everyone, it seems, is rooting for someone to step up and trade for Garoppolo.
Lynch, you must recall, said back in March a trade for Garoppolo was in works.
“At the combine there were real conversations that were pretty far along,” he said.
But those talks got sidetracked by Garoppolo choosing to have the shoulder surgery.
So what’s the solution now as Garoppolo continues his steady crawl back to full strength in the throwing shoulder?
Lynch promises the 49ers will not simply cut Garoppolo for the cap benefit. “He’s too good a player,” the GM said.
But what options are there?
Seattle makes the most sense of any NFL team, assuming myriad hurdles can be navigated, including making a trade within the same division and the Seahawks not being able to easily fit Garoppolo under their salary cap.
There are two former 49ers assistants now coaching in Miami (Mike McDaniel) and with the New York Jets (Robert Saleh) and so if either Tua Tagovailoa or Zach Wilson suffer significant training camp injuries, the Garoppolo possibility could be discussed by those teams.
The Dolphins in particular have history of making important deals with the 49ers.
The Cleveland Browns, meanwhile, are bracing for a suspension of starting quarterback Deshaun Watson for part of the 2022 season. A ruling on whether or to what extent he violated the NFL Personal Conduct Policy is expected relatively soon.
The Browns, however, are set to hand the reins of the offense to backup Jacoby Brissett in Watson’s absence.
That club, which has the cap space to acquire Garoppolo, is just as likely shopping for a Brissett backup than a Watson replacement.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero