The 49ers had a chance in 2020 to sign Tom Brady. They decided to stick with Jimmy Garoppolo instead.
After Garoppolo missed 10 games in 2020, a sense has persisted that the 49ers will explore all options at the position for 2021. If the 49ers can find a potential upgrade over Garoppolo (or someone with relatively the same talent level but younger and/or cheaper), what happens to Garoppolo?
Most presume he’ll be traded. But here’s the question: If the 49ers don’t want to keep Garoppolo at the balance of his current contract, who would trade for the thing?
Garoppolo has a total compensation package of $25.5 million for 2021 and $25.6 million for 2022. If he were a free agent, would anyone offer him $50.1 million over two years? It’s doubtful.
It’s doubtful because he hasn’t proven he can stay healthy. He missed 23 games over the last three seasons. Dating back to 2016, when he had a four-game audition during Tom Brady’s #Deflategate suspension, Garoppolo got injured in the second game.
So here’s my prediction: the 49ers won’t eventually roll the dice with Garoppolo again, not at his current contract. And since they won’t be able to trade the contract, they’ll eventually cut Garoppolo — taking a cap charge of only $2.8 million.
Because he has no trigger in his contract forcing the 49ers to make an early decision, they can wait to find a replacement before cutting him. Whether that happens via trade (like a Sam Darnold) or free agency or the draft, once they think they have the guy they want, they can get rid of the guy they’ll no longer need.
Maybe I’ll be wrong about this. It wouldn’t be the first time. But it definitely would be wrong for the 49ers to cast their lot again with a guy who has missed a lot of games — especially at $25.5 million.
In the end, maybe that’s the only way he’d stay. By taking less, under the threat of being cut.