3 Instant Reactions to Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers Reportedly Finalizing New Contract
After months of expecting Jimmy Garoppolo to be traded by the San Francisco 49ers, the veteran quarterback surprised the football world on Monday when he agreed to a restructured contract to remain on the team for the 2022 season.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Garoppolo's new one-year deal contains no-trade and no-tag clauses giving him the chance to become a free agent in 2023. Garoppolo is reportedly now the NFL's highest-paid backup quarterback:
So what effects will Garoppolo's decision have moving forward? Here are three reactions that explore the surprising development.
Jimmy Garoppolo Made the Right Decision for His Career
While it seemed like an inevitability that Garoppolo would not be wearing a 49ers uniform in 2022, the truth is the best option was always for him to remain in the Bay Area for one more year. There simply wasn't an obvious landing spot for him after an eventful offseason.
The Denver Broncos made the biggest splash by acquiring Russell Wilson. The Indianapolis Colts landed veteran Matt Ryan. The Washington Commanders are giving Carson Wentz a chance to revitalize his career.
The Atlanta Falcons are sticking with Marcus Mariota as their rebuild continues. The Seattle Seahawks only recently made a decision in their quarterback competition, but the 49ers would never have sent Garoppolo to an NFC West rival.
Many believed the 30-year-old would have been an obvious fit with the Cleveland Browns after Deshaun Watson was suspended for the first 11 games of the season. However, Cleveland committed to veteran backup Jacoby Brissett as its starter in the interim. The situation wouldn't have been ideal for Garoppolo anyway, as he would've just been a lame-duck quarterback until Watson was eligible to return.
Now, Garoppolo has the chance to control his own destiny. If the right situation opens up during the regular season, he can waive his no-trade clause. He can also choose to wait until he becomes a free agent in 2023 to find a new home.
Taking back control is what's best for Garoppolo at this stage in his career, and he did just that by agreeing to the restructured deal.
49ers Invest in Trey Lance Insurance
The main reason many were expecting Garoppolo to be traded was San Francisco's commitment to second-year quarterback Trey Lance as its starter in 2022. By keeping the nine-year veteran on the roster, the 49ers fortified their quarterback situation for the rest of the season.
Lance may have had some "wow" moments during the preseason, but he's still an unproven signal-caller. The 22-year-old appeared in six games as a rookie and threw for 603 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions while adding 168 rushing yards and a score.
The No. 3 overall pick in 2021, Lance was a unique prospect in his draft class because of his lack of playing time in college. He started 16 games in 2019 and guided North Dakota State to the FCS national title, collecting the championship game MVP as well as the Walter Payton and Jerry Rice awards as the FCS offensive MVP and top freshman.
In 2020, however, he played only one game for the Bison before the season was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He then sat out the rest of the season's games—played in spring 2021—to prepare for the draft.
There's a chance that Lance's lack of experience causes him to stumble at some point this season. If that does occur, it will be comforting for the 49ers to have Garoppolo on the roster if they need to turn to him in a game this year. The other quarterbacks on the team are Nate Sudfeld and Brock Purdy, neither of whom ever started a game in their respective careers.
Garoppolo has proven to be able to lead San Francisco to success, having spearheaded deep playoff runs in two of the last three seasons. San Francisco should be confident in having him as an insurance policy in case anything causes Lance to be sidelined.
Garoppolo’s Uniquely Lucrative Career Continues
If there's one thing to admire about Garoppolo, it's his ability to ensure his bank account is in good shape. The 2014 second-round pick evolved from Tom Brady's backup into a high-earning quarterback in the NFL.
After Garoppolo was traded from the New England Patriots to San Francisco in 2017, the 49ers rewarded him after the season with a five-year max extension worth $137.5 million, which at the time was the largest contract in NFL history. While that deal pales in comparison to some of the contracts quarterbacks are signing nowadays, it should be viewed as a career achievement for Garoppolo.
The 49ers had a mixed return on their investment in Garoppolo. He led the team to a Super Bowl appearance in 2019 and a run to the NFC Championship last year, but he was limited to three games in 2018 and six games in 2020 because of injury.
Now, Garoppolo has the unique distinction of being the highest-paid backup quarterback in the league. There's a chance he doesn't even have to play this season, and he can earn up to $7 million with his roster bonus. According to Spotrac, Garoppolo's career earnings could reach $121.16 million by the end of the season, and it would be even more if he reaches his playing incentives.
Garoppolo's career should be a lesson in knowing one's worth and standing by it. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him secure a big money deal with whichever team he continues his career after his tenure in San Francisco comes to an end.