How long will Jimmy Garoppolo remain the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers? This is a question that has been pondered in the NFL media pretty much since the former New England Patriot was first traded to the Bay Area.
Garoppolo came in midseason in 2017 as a soon-to-be free agent who had never been a full-time starter in the NFL, but he earned a five-year contract from the team after going 5-0.
However, he's gone on to miss 23 games in the last three seasons and been relegated to the role of game-manager, making his part in the team's run to the Super Bowl after the 2019 season appear negligible. While he has two years remaining on his contract, he also has just $2.8 million in dead money remaining the deal.
If the 49ers wanted to release or trade Garoppolo, they could with little financial consequence. They haven't, though, and yet the trade speculation remains.
According to Greg A. Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal (h/t Jiwon Kim of CLNS Media), at least before the team re-signed Cam newton, New England was interested in trying to bring back Garoppolo.
"From what I gather from talking to people this week, over the past week, Jimmy Garoppolo is still far and away their Plan A," Bedard said on his podcast. "That, if they had to draw it up, exactly the optimal situation for the Patriots for this coming season, it's Jimmy G coming back here."
And even with Newton returning, the Patriots have made it relatively clear the move won't stop them from exploring other quarterback possibilities:
If New England was that enamored with its former quarterback, why didn't it make a strong push for Garoppolo before re-signing Newton? A number of factors could be at play here.
The Patriots simply might not be as interested in Garoppolo as some believe, or they may not be interested in giving up assets to reacquire him. They might have reached out only to be rebuffed by the 49ers. Or perhaps Garoppolo himself nixed the offer.
As Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area recently pointed out, Garoppolo has a no-trade clause as part of his contract. San Francisco could be a playoff contender if the roster is healthy, and Garoppolo is set to earn $24.1 million in base salary this season.
For Garoppolo to waive his no-trade clause, he would likely have to be looking at a better situation and/or better money. There's no guarantee that New England—or any other team eager to trade for him—would offer that.
The reality is that Garoppolo is San Francisco's starting quarterback for right now. There's a good chance he'll be the starter in Week 1 too. The 49ers have simply given no indication they're looking to go in a different direction.
"I'm sure they have some interest, if he is released, but they did not call the Panthers about it," Rapoport told KNBR Radio (h/t David Bonilla of 49ers Webzone).
Of course, it is the offseason, so every situation is subject to change.