After an off-season of failing to trade the veteran quarterback, the San Francisco 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo have agreed to a reworked contract for this season.
The 49ers’ new deal with Jimmy Garoppolo makes him the highest-paid backup quarterback with a one-year contract worth $7 million with the potential to earn close to $16 million. The contract is broken down into a guaranteed $6.5 million base salary with a $500k signing bonus. The deal also comes with playtime incentives worth up to an additional $8.45 million. Garoppolo’s contract will hold a cap hit of a little under $9 million for 2022. The new contract also includes a no-trade clause.
I'm told 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo discussed possibility of waiving no-trade clause later on if something develops league-wide that benefits both sides. But that's not a primary focus. Garoppolo's flexibility helped. His value for S.F. teammates, chance to win weighed heavily. — Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 29, 2022
What Could Jimmy Garoppolo’s New Deal Mean For Both Sides?
The restructure could mean Jimmy Garoppolo is an insurance policy in case something were to go wrong with starting QB Trey Lance. However, after keeping Garoppolo away from team programs all off-season and not giving him a playbook, it seems unlikely that they expect to play him.
Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have also openly spoken about their decision and commitment to transitioning to Trey Lance as the starting quarterback. Lance also took all first-team reps with the team in camp. So don’t expect a QB competition heading into the 2022 regular season. The strange part here is that keeping Garoppolo on the roster does make the transition more awkward which is something they wanted to avoid. Either way, the Niners made their decision clear going into training camp.
“We have moved on to Trey,” Shanahan said. “This is Trey’s team. That’s nothing against Jimmy. We made that decision a year ago and we’re going with that. We’re not going to mess around with that anymore. Jimmy understands that fully. That’s a business decision and that’s what makes it not awkward. Jimmy knows we’re going with Trey. Trey knows we’re going with Trey and our team does, and everyone likes both of those guys.”
The restructure is more likely intended to make a trade. There was no traction on a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo the entire off-season for multiple reasons. Numerous QBs were on the move and Garoppolo’s shoulder surgery left teams questioning whether it would be worth it to trade for the veteran who came with a $25 million cap hit before this restructure.
Jimmy’s new cap hit of nearly $9 million is much more team-friendly for a team that may be looking to upgrade the starting quarterback position on a budget. A team like the Cleveland Browns could make a move for the veteran if they want since starting QB Deshaun Watson must serve an 11-game suspension. The New York Giants who did not pick up Daniel Jones’ fifth-year option could be in a position to make a deal as well.
Is Keeping Jimmy Garoppolo The Best Decision For The 49ers?
It seems like nothing has changed other than the salary and a potential shift in leverage regarding trade talks. Before the restructure, it seemed very obvious that if a team wanted Jimmy Garoppolo they could just wait and dare the 49ers to hold onto a $25 million quarterback who they wouldn’t play to force their hand into cutting him. Now with the restructure the Niners have created over $15 million in cap space before all the final cuts have been announced which gives the team the ability to acquire more players that could make an impact this season.
With the 49ers no longer in a position where they would be forced to cut him, this could make trade talks easier. Still, this is a questionable decision when looking at the off-season as a whole for the Niners.
It is no guarantee that San Francisco will even find a trade partner this season. If the trade deadline passes and no trade surfaces, do they make Garoppolo the backup? Do they bring him into the locker room and have him practice with the team? If Lance suffers an injury and needs to sit for a week do the Niners start Jimmy after no training camp and not having a playbook this off-season? Or does he serve as the backup right away this season? These situations could cause unnecessary controversy and would certainly be awkward.
One way to look at the situation is the Niners prioritized holding onto Jimmy Garoppolo’s $25 million for a day two or day three draft pick instead of using cap space they could’ve created by releasing Jimmy G in the off-season to improve the roster around their young QB. Sure the Niners would’ve had to pay Garoppolo his $7.5 million injury guarantee if they released him back in March, but the cap space that would’ve been created for free agency is similar to the amount this restructure gives them.
To say whether this is a good or bad decision is premature. There are pros and cons to this move, but until we see how the situation plays out, we just don’t know. That being said it would be fair to say that San Francisco has miscalculated the entire Garoppolo situation this off-season.