Finally, one of the worst-kept secrets in the NFL is out. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is free to explore a trade away from the San Francisco 49ers. ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news Wednesday, and Garoppolo’s agents Don Yee and Carter Chow can now sound out potential trade partners. Ultimately, this was always going to happen. When general manager John Lynch traded up to third overall to draft Trey Lance in 2021, he simultaneously tagged an expiration date on Garoppolo’s stay in sunny California. Lance is the 49ers’ future; Garoppolo is not.
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Now the former New England Patriot must convince teams to take a chance on him, months removed from shoulder surgery. A difficult task for a maligned quarterback. However, the discourse on Garoppolo is incorrect. Is he on Aaron Rodgers’ level? No, of course not. But neither is Garoppolo on Nathan Peterman’s level. The 49ers’ record with Garoppolo as a starter was 31-14.
Moreover, in the two seasons where Garoppolo started more than 10 games, the 49ers made the NFC Championship Game. And while some NFL fans and analysts may scoff at Garoppolo’s record, and point to the presence of head coach Kyle Shanahan, bear the following in mind. Shanahan’s 49ers boast an 8-27 record without Garoppolo.
Nevertheless, all of that is now a moot point. Garoppolo is the latest quarterback to hit the market this offseason, but will anyone take a gamble on a 30-year-old quarterback returning from shoulder surgery? Garoppolo missed June minicamp and has reportedly only started throwing the ball recently.
Consequently, Garoppolo may start the season on the “Physically Unable to Perform” list and miss a portion of training camp. Add all that to a salary hit of $25,600,000, and Garoppolo is a tough sell. However, Garoppolo certainly has some positive traits. He is an accurate thrower with plenty of experience and leadership qualities.
Baker Mayfield was the most recent quarterback on the move. The Carolina Panthers sent a conditional fourth-round pick from 2024 to the Cleveland Browns for Mayfield. Garoppolo should fetch a more substantial return. His career has had more highlights than Mayfield’s. The market may be slow to develop, yet there will be teams that call the 49ers to enquire. Here are three potential landing spots for Garoppolo in 2022:
Perfect may not exist in life or the NFL. Nonetheless, a move to the Miami Dolphins could represent a near-perfect opportunity for Garoppolo. New Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel was part of the 49ers’ coaching staff during Garoppolo’s tenure as the starting quarterback. McDaniel will know Garoppolo extremely well, and the flexibility provided by Tua Tagovailoa’s rookie contract allows the Dolphins to explore the addition of a veteran.
McDaniel and Garoppolo’s instant chemistry and understanding of the scheme could instantly improve the Dolphins’ offense and extract another level from Tagovailoa by adding legitimate competition. The Dolphins’ offseason moves featured signing star tackle Terron Armstead and trading for Tyreek Hill. Add Mike Gesicki and Jaylen Waddle, and the Dolphins have an offense with some top players.
The Dolphins’ rumored flirtations with Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson suggest that they do not fully believe in Tagovailoa. While Garoppolo is not on that level, he understands how to lead an offense with a solid tight end, two versatile wideouts, and a healthy running back rotation. Garoppolo posted a better quarterback rating than Tagovailoa, had fewer turnover-worthy throws, and had a lower bad-throw percentage. In an offense built on executing simple plays, allowing the talent around the quarterback to shine, and minimizing mistakes, Garoppolo may be the perfect fit.
Chaos, confusion, and drama have enveloped the Cleveland Browns since they returned to the NFL in 1999. The offseason of 2022 has perhaps demonstrated that better than ever. After trading for and handing Deshaun Watson a $230 million contract, the Browns were again engulfed in controversy.
Watson is currently under investigation by the NFL in light of the serious allegations and civil lawsuits made by over 20 women regarding sexual misconduct. Watson will allegedly fight any suspension, and the legal proceedings could rumble on. Watson’s status for the 2022 season is still unclear, but it is almost unfathomable that he will play an entire season.
Meanwhile, the Browns would still have to find a way to play a 17-game season with a quarterback. Veteran Jacoby Brissett is their backup. He is not a starting caliber signal-caller in a division with Joe Burrow and Lamar Jackson. Garoppolo is a solid fit for an offense predicated on a run-first plan with plenty of play-action. Kevin Stefanski’s offense is eerily similar to the Shanahan and Sean McVay offense with its pre-snap sugar, running threat, and quick-strike passes to their playmakers.
While Garoppolo is not cheap, he would only be a one-year rental. The Eastern Illinois product will hit free agency in 2023. Therefore the Browns could sign him for 2022 and let him walk in 2023. Garoppolo could keep the Browns afloat in a competitive AFC wildcard race.
The Seattle Seahawks are in a strange place. Their current quarterback depth chart reads like this; Geno Smith, Drew Lock, and Jacob Eason. That is undoubtedly the worst quarterback room in the NFL.
With a group of pass-catchers headlined by DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Freddie Swain, and Noah Fant, the Seahawks need an upgrade at quarterback. Moreover, the Seahawks must find a way to stay competitive in an NFC devoid of quality depth. It could offer their fans some meaningful football games in November and December. That is important as the Seahawks enter a new phase without Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner.
A talented skill group and an offensive line ranked 15th in ESPN’s pass-block success could offer Garoppolo a decent shot at succeeding. Garoppolo would also have some familiar help from offensive coordinator Shane Waldron. Waldron is an experienced coach and product of the Sean McVay coaching tree. Before joining the Seahawks, Waldron worked alongside McVay and Matt LaFleur for the Los Angeles Rams.
There were whispers of tension between Waldron and Wilson. If Garoppolo were to join the Seahawks, he and Waldron could implement concepts similar to those in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Lastly, it would certainly add some spice to the Seahawks vs. 49ers divisional games.