The Cleveland Browns and Seattle Seahawks are reportedly more likely to add Jimmy Garoppolo after he's released, rather than trade for the San Francisco 49ers quarterback while he's still under contract.
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler provided the latest on SportsCenter:
"People I've talked to around the league still expect that any interested team—whether it's the Browns, Seattle—they're waiting for him to be released.
"They don't want anything to do with that $26 million that he's owed this year. And they know the clock is ticking on San Francisco—that money becomes guaranteed Week 1. And so they're just going to sort of wait this out. There's a chance that the 49ers can try to get some sort of mid-to-late-round pick for him.
"Cleveland, they're the team that everybody is watching. What are they going to do? And right now, the early indications are they're pretty comfortable with Jacoby Brissett."
Garoppolo has a $26.95 million cap hit for 2022, but the 49ers can save $24.95 million by trading or releasing him before Week 1.
San Francisco owner Jed York recently indicated the team could keep Garoppolo into the season even as 2021 first-round pick Trey Lance takes over as the starting quarterback.
"I watched it with Joe (Montana) and Steve (Young) and I realize the salary cap is different today than having no salary cap. But we've said it before: We're happy to keep Jimmy," York told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. "We're happy to have him on the roster. And if that's the case, then that's the case."
Garoppolo has been the team's starter when healthy since arriving in a 2017 trade. He helped bring the team to the Super Bowl after the 2019 season and reached the NFC Championship Game last year.
Even with limitations, the 30-year-old represents a valuable insurance policy in case Lance gets hurt or struggles. There are high expectations for Lance, but he only has two career NFL starts out of North Dakota State.
On the other hand, the salary cap hit makes it difficult for the 49ers to retain Garoppolo as a backup.
Peter King of NBC Sports reported the quarterback doesn't even have a playbook or attend meetings during training camp. This strategy likely means Garoppolo will spend the season with another team.
The Browns might need an upgrade at quarterback with Deshaun Watson suspended for the first 11 games, while the Seahawks could use a more proven option compared to Geno Smith or Drew Lock. Neither squad sees value in giving up a draft pick and taking on Garoppolo's full salary.
If he hits the open market, however, it might be a different story.