EDITOR’S NOTE: Jimmy G signed with the Last Vegas Raiders on March 13 — click here for Boardroom’s overview of his new contract.
After a longer-than-expected stay in San Francisco, Jimmy Garoppolo is set to hit free agency this offseason. Boardroom breaks down his options.
As the San Francisco 49ers enter an offseason with quarterback uncertainty, head coach Kyle Shanahan made it more than clear that the organization would finally go its separate ways with veteran Jimmy Garoppolo.
“No, I don’t see any scenario of [Garoppolo returning],” Shanahan said.
The Niners traded a 2018 second-round pick to the Patriots in exchange for Jimmy G in 2017 and in over five years together, the two sides somehow ended up back together. Garoppolo had a pretty exquisite run, all things considered — one Super Bowl appearance with a 38-17 overall record. But it feels like insanity at this point when you consider that this was the fourth season in which he missed time due to injury since joining the 49ers in 2017.
But the 31-year-old has plenty left in the tank after leading the Niners to a 7-3 record following a season-ending injury to original QB1 Trey Lance. Considering how hard it is to come by a serviceable quarterback and how few stars are free agents (excluding Lamar Jackson), Jimmy G could garner $35 million on the open market. Several teams can and will work with that, especially keeping in mind the near 8% jump for the 2023 salary cap.
Jimmy G is arguably the second-best QB on the open market after Jackson. Daniel Jones is a free agent, but it’s likely that he returns to the Giants. Derek Carr is expected to be traded, but he won’t move the needle for most teams. And Tom Brady just retired. That brings Garoppolo to the forefront of free agency.
So, which teams have the means? Boardroom takes a look.
Atlanta has more than $51 million (second-most in the NFL) in cap space if it wants to overspend on Jimmy G to ensure a starting-caliber QB under center next season. Marcus Mariota, the starter for much of the 2022 season, was eventually benched and left the team a day later.
- WR1: Drake London
Houston has more than $37 million (fourth-most) in cap space and virtually anybody is an upgrade over Davis Mills. Not to mention, former Niners defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans was just hired as head coach.
- WR1: Brandin Cooks
Indianapolis has $5.9 million in cap space and has gone through six QBs since Andrew Luck retired. Matt Ryan’s first year was an utter disaster. The defense wasn’t solid in 2022, but just two seasons back, it was a top-10 unit. Would someone like Jimmy G provide a level of stability or even more concern given his injury history?
- WR1: Michael Pittman Jr.
Best Team Fits
New York continues to fail to pick (and develop) a good QB with both Sam Darnold and Zach Wilson looking like back-to-back failed experiments. The present is bright, though. The Jets boast one of the best defenses in the NFL with a variety of young offensive pieces, namely RB Breece Hall and WR Garrett Wilson. Also, it’s worth noting head coach Robert Saleh was San Francisco’s defensive coordinator from 2017-2020.
- Cap Space: -$3,805,607
When head coach Ron Rivera was asked why the Commanders were behind other NFC East teams, he responded by saying “quarterback.” Carson Wentz is on the books for two more years at roughly $53 million, but his future isn’t set in stone there. Jimmy G would have several weapons with Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel to throw to, as well as Antonio Gibson out of the backfield.
- Cap Space: $1,480,714
New Orleans hasn’t had a stable starting QB since Drew Brees retired, and it hasn’t had much success during an era of QBs that included Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, and Taysom Hill. The Saints are sort of an enigma around the shield, and a check-down-heavy quarterback like Garoppolo could work well in an offense that goes through hybrid back Alvin Kamara. The main problem? See below.
- Cap Space: $-57,381,434
Tom Brady just retired and Kyle Trask is the only QB currently under contract for Tampa Bay in 2023. Fortunately for the Bucs, they still have plenty of talent, namely Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage, and Leonard Fournette. Jimmy G could fit in nicely if they can somehow find the financial means to get him.
- Cap Space: $-57,964,949
As this section suggests, this may truly be a wild card since the Rams signed Matthew Stafford to a four-year, $160 million deal in 2022, but if you recall correctly, Los Angeles was Jimmy G’s most likely home in 2022 if he didn’t come to an agreement with San Francisco. The Rams have plenty of weapons in the passing game and they might want some insurance behind Stafford, whose using the offseason to overcome a spinal cord contusion.
- Cap Space: $-16,522,453
Keep An Eye On…
The Raiders and Panthers. Two other teams with plenty of talent, but need a competent starting QB to boost their playoff chances. In these particular cases, there are questions worth asking:
- Raiders: Would Jimmy G be much of an upgrade from Derek Carr?
- Panthers: They have the ninth overall pick (and seven total) in the 2023 NFL Draft — more likely to get a young QB they can develop under new coach Frank Reich. Is it worth delaying development?
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