By: Chris Thomas
The San Fransisco 49ers have made it clear that they do not view Jimmy Garappolo as the future of the franchise at quarterback after their blockbuster deal from last week. San Fransisco traded the 12th overall pick, their 2022 first-round pick, 2022 third-round pick, and 2023 first-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for the third overall pick in this year’s draft. It has been all but confirmed that San Fransisco plans to take one of this year’s top quarterback prospects with the third pick.
This year’s quarterback class is as deep as they come. There are expected to be five quarterbacks taken in the first ten picks of this year’s draft. To put it into perspective, the elite quarterbacks class of 2018 had five quarterbacks go throughout the entire first round. Many expect Clemson’s Trevor Lawerence and BYU’s Zach Wilson to be gone already by the time the 49ers pick. San Fransisco will likely select one of North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, or Alabama’s Mac Jones.
Now that the 49ers are expected to add a quarterback their incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo’s name a serviced as a potentially traded player. The rumors on Garoppolo’s availability have been conflicting. Shortly after the trade was announced 49ers head coach and general manager Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch told the media that they plan on keeping Garoppolo on the roster to begin next season. However now according to NFL Network’s Michael Giardi, it has come out that the 49ers asking price for Garoppolo is a first-round pick
A first-round pick seems like fair compensation for Garoppolo. This is considering that the Rams traded two first-round picks and a third-round pick (and Jared Goff) to the Lions for Matthew Stafford. The Colts also traded away a third-round pick and a conditional first-round pick to acquire Carson Wentz from the Eagles. Garoppolo’s value will likely be closer to Wentz than Stafford considering he is viewed in a similar light as Wentz. Both Garoppolo and Wentz have shown the ability to command an offense on a Super Bowl contending team. But both have dealt with their fair share of injuries and have been inconsistent with their production as of late.
It is difficult to pinpoint a perfect location for Garoppolo because every team who has a void at quarterback has filled it with an established veteran or will likely add one with their first-round pick on this year’s draft. But there are a few teams that could view Garoppolo as an upgrade over their current quarterback. A team may believe Garoppolo is the missing piece on their team that could get them in range to make the playoffs or possibly become a contender. Here are the teams that could trade for Jimmy Garoppolo before Week 1 of the 2021 NFL Season.
Potential Trade: Denver trades a Conditional 2022 First Round Pick to San Fransisco for Jimmy Garoppolo
There has been some speculation about the Denver Broncos looking for an upgrade at quarterback over current starter Drew Lock. After going 4-1 as a starter at the end of his rookie season Lock regressed instead of growing into a legitimate franchise quarterback. Lock went 4-9 as a starter last season in his 13 starts. He also averaged 225.6 passing yards per game, threw only 16 touchdowns, and had 15 interceptions. This performance by Lock was unexpected after Denver added former Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon and multiple rookies on the offensive side of the ball. Denver drafted wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler in the first two rounds then took center Lloyd Cushenberry in the third round.
At this point of the offseason, it appears that if Denver wanted to add a quarterback to push Drew Lock they could try to add someone like Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew or Chicago’s Nick Foles. But if Denver wants to replace Lock then the only quarterback available that right now is a clearcut upgrade over Lock and could be the Broncos quarterback for the foreseeable future it is Jimmy Garoppolo.
From year one to year two Bronco’s head coach Vic Fangio’s team had regressed and lost two more games. Now with new general manager George Patton in house, there is urgency for Fangio to have success next season or Patton could move on from him and bring in his own head coach. This means Denver needs to have at least solid consistent production from the quarterback position next season. They cannot wait for Drew Lock to possibly show that he could be a starter.
Denver is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. They have a veteran defense that after adding Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby appear to be in a position to carry the team if necessary. While offensively Denver has enough young and veteran talent to keep them in games if they can get a quarterback under center that could take advantage of those weapons. There is a lot of uncertainty around whether Garoppolo is a star or not. But one thing is for certain when he has been under center or the 49ers he has consistently put them in positions to win. Denver needs a quarterback like that to put them over the edge and get them into potential playoff territory.
Denver should be willing to give a conditional first-round pick in 2022 to San Fransisco for compensation for Garoppolo. The conditions for the draft pick should mirror what the Colts and Eagles negotiated during their trade involving Carson Wentz. Garoppolo should have to play 75% of the Broncos offensive snaps or 70% and make the playoffs in order for San Fransisco to receive their first-round pick. But if Garoppolo fails to meet that criteria Denver should be able to give their third-round picks in both 2022 and 2023 to the 49ers for Garoppolo instead. Moving that high of a pick for Garoppolo is risky because he has shown that he is prone to get hurt and missing extended time. In the past three years, Garoppolo has missed 23 games which have hurt San Fransisco and is a large reason why they are moving on from him.
Potential Trade: Carolina trades 2021 Second Round Pick (Pick 39), 2021 Third Round Pick (Pick 73), and Teddy Bridgewater to San Fransisco for 2021 Second Round Pick (Pick 43) and Jimmy Garoppolo
One of the biggest losers of San Fransisco trading up to third overall for a quarterback is the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have made it very clear that they are looking for a quarterback to be an upgrade over what Teddy Bridgewater was for them last season. They believe that with an increased level of production at quarterback the Panthers could make the playoffs if the rest of the team plays the same or better than they did this past season.
Eight of the eleven losses that Carolina suffered last season were by eight points or less. They point the finger at Teddy Bridgewater who looked like a bridge quarterback rather than a long-term starter. After signing a three-year $63 million contract last offseason Bridgewater averaged 248.9 passing yards per game and threw only 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Carolina and San Fransisco swapping quarterbacks in a trade makes a lot of sense for a couple of reasons.
In early March it was reported by Joseph Person of The Athleticthatthe 49ers called Carolina about Teddy Bridgewater. Later reports said that San Fransisco was doing their due diligence by calling Carolina. But that means that the 49ers had somewhat of an interest level in Bridgewater to make the call. Bridgewater would be a perfect bridge quarterback for the 49ers because he would be able to run their offense well until the rookie is ready.
Also, another bonus for the 49ers would be that since Bridgewater was acquired via trade the 49ers would be able to move off of Bridgewater’s $21 million per year salary whenever they’re done with him without a dead cap hit.
For Carolina, Garoppolo would be what they’re looking for a quarterback who is an upgrade over Bridgewater. If he could stay healthy he is a major upgrade over Bridgewater that could be what Carolina needs to get over the hump. Trading for him also gives Carolina the option of taking the best player available at eight versus possibly taking the fourth or fifth quarterback available in the draft who may not be their guy. Garoppolo had a lot of success under offensive guru Kyle Shanahan, he could easily excel in Joe Brady’s system.
Since Carolina would be giving San Francisco another starting-caliber quarterback they likely would not have to give up a first-round pick in the deal. Along with Bridgewater, moving up four spots in the second round and adding a third-round pick is fair compensation for Garappolo.
New York Giants
Potential Trade: New York trades a 2022 conditional First Round Pick to San Fransisco for Jimmy Garappolo
After the moves, the Giants have made this offseason it seems the only thing that could hold the Giants back is the play at quarterbacks. In his second year, Daniel Jones still has not performed up to his draft status of the sixth overall pick. Jones did cut down on turnovers from his rookie year going from 30 to 21. But he only threw 11 touchdowns in 14 games. He also averaged only 210.2 passing yards per game.
It seems unlikely that New York would move on from Daniel Jones after only two seasons. Especially after investing the sixth overall pick in him. But it wouldn’t be crazy for Giants general manager David Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge to start evaluating their options at the position. The NFC East is extremely weak right now and with above-average talent at quarterback, the Giants could have the roster to win the division.
Being a former New England Patriot, Jimmy Garoppolo could have some type of relationship with Giants head coach Joe Judge who had coached in New England for eight seasons before getting the Giants job. Garoppolo would be able to handle the pressure that the media puts on New York quarterbacks. He was drafted to be Tom Brady’s replacement in New England and was the starting quarterback of an NFC Champion San Fransisco 49ers team. Garoppolo knows how to handle the media since he has been a part of winning teams in large markets. He could be the franchise quarterback that New York hopes Daniel Jones will eventually become.
Since there is risk involved when trading for a player like Garoppolo due to his injury history, it would only be fair for the Giants to have conditions that he would have to meet in order for the Giants to trade a first-round pick for him. The Giants would likely be comfortable moving a conditional first-round pick if Garoppolo played at least 75% of the snaps or 70% of the snaps and the team made the playoffs.
New England Patriots
Potential Trade: New England trades 2021 Third Round Pick (Pick 97), Sony Michel, and Stephon Gilmore to San Fransisco for Jimmy Garappolo
The most obvious fit for Jimmy Garappolo is to return to New England. It is no secret that Bill Belichick was extremely fond of Garappolo and viewed him as the eventual replacement for Tom Brady in New England. When both Garappolo and Brady were going hit free agency in 2017 Belichick and New England elected to extend Brady and traded Garappolo to San Fransisco for a second-round pick. The Patriots won another Super Bowl under Brady, but now that he is in Tampa Bay do not appear to have a long-term option at the position.
Last season New England took a chance on former MVP Cam Newton. He only averaged 177.1 passing yards per game and threw 8 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. But when considering he also rushed for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns he was a slightly below-average quarterback. New England gave Newton the benefit of the doubt since he lacked quality offense weapons this past year and gave Newton a one-year deal to prove he can do it with the new offensive weapons New England has brought in.
Even though Newton’s extension is worth up to $14 million he is only guaranteed to make $5.1 million. This means that from a financial standpoint New England could be comfortable bringing in another quarterback to compete or eventually replace Newton. The price tag of that quarterback shouldn’t matter since Newton’s guaranteed salary is similar to that of a veteran backup quarterback.
Trading for Garrapolo would give New England a proven veteran starting quarterback whose only flaw is health. He already knows the offensive system and has shown that he is capable of making a team with talented pieces a contender. Cam Newton would immediately become one of the league’s best backup quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could also use Cam Newton comparably to how New Orleans uses Taysom Hill. Along with using Newton on quarterback draws and in goal-line situations, McDaniels could create a couple of plays that allows both Garappolo and Newton to lineup on the field at the same time.
For the past few seasons, Newton has shown that he is fully capable of playing at a (moderately) high level, but after the first two to three weeks Newton’s production declines. If his role was condensed he would possibly be able to maintain the level of production he has early in a season throughout a year.
Both Stephon Gilmore and Sony Michel are veterans on the Patriots that could help the 49ers if they were moved there in a deal for Garappolo. Since veteran players could be involved in a deal for Garappolo the Patriots could get away with only giving up a third-round pick from this year’s draft in the deal.
Gilmore is viewed as one of the league’s premier talents at cornerback. However, right now Gilmore would hit free agency in 2022 and New England may not get an extension done with him. New England may be able to maximize his value by trading him before the season starts. The Patriots have always had great cornerback depth and with both J.C. Jackson and Jonathan Jones under contract Gilmore appears to be a luxury for the Patriots. New England may prefer to extend Jackson this offseason over Gilmore. San Fransisco could be interested in adding a cornerback the caliber of Gilmore because Richard Sherman is not expected to return. The largest void on the 49ers roster is cornerback because Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley are better suited to cover secondary receivers on opposing teams.
Sony Michel has been extremely inconsistent since joining New England. After rushing for one 900 yards and six touchdowns in his first two seasons, Michel only rushed for 449 rushing yards and a touchdown on 79 attempts in nine games. He seems to have regressed from the feature back in New England’s committee to a member of that committee. A change of scenery may be able to return a spark to Michel to replicate his production from his first few seasons or even live up to his first-round price tag. The best place for that to happen would be in Kyle Shanahan’s offense that is extremely running back-friendly. The 49ers could use another member of their committee after all the injuries that occurred at that position for them. On top of that veterans, Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon are no longer on the team.