Steelers Making ‘Strong Push’ for 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo, NFL Insider Says

Getty Jimmy Garoppolo shakes hands with Mason Rudolph post-game.

Get used to it, Steelers fans. If you think you’ve read too much quarterback speculation over the past few months, hold onto your seats — it’s only going to get more quarterback-y until Pittsburgh actually pulls the trigger on one.

Since Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement in January, it’s the first time in nearly two decades that the Pittsburgh Steelers have legitimately been in the market for a quarterback. And though some think that they’re a few years too late (and Mason Rudolph doesn’t count), it’s finally happening. Right now.

And no one knows what they’ll do — maybe not even the Steelers brass. So, until free agency (March 14), until the NFL draft (April 28), until the season kicks off (September 8), count on ad nauseam quarterback conjecture.

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One name that isn’t going away is Jimmy Garoppolo. The San Fransisco 49ers have told their signal-caller that he will be traded — it’s simply a matter of when and where.

“They’ve been very upfront about the whole thing,” Garoppolo told the media in a February 1 press conference. “I was talking to [General Manager] John [Lynch] yesterday about finding the right destination and whatever the future holds, just doing it the right way.

“I’ve got a long career ahead of me,” said Garoppolo. “I’m excited about the opportunities to come. I just wanna go to a place where they wanna win. And that’s really what I’m in this game for. I’m here to play football, to win ball games. And as long as I got that and good people around me, I think the rest take care of itself.”

Garoppolo to Pittsburgh

According to NFL insider Matthew Lombardo‘s sources, because of the weak 2022 NFL draft class of quarterbacks, the veteran quarterback market will be hot early in the offseason, and the Steelers prefer Garoppolo over the incoming rookies.

“An AFC executive that I spoke to says the Kenny Pickett wouldn’t even be the top three quarterbacks chosen in either of the last two drafts,” Lombardo shared on Pittsburgh’s 93.7 the Fan on February 4.

“So, if you have the opportunity to get a proven commodity, a veteran who’s been to a Super Bowl, won a lot of games, or take a risk on a down quarterback class,” said Lombardo. “The teams might more aggressively pursue the veterans and the backup plan being the long-term solution through the draft.”

“[The Steelers are] gonna be in the mix here from people that I talk to… If you’re not gonna be able to get a Kenny Pickett or Sam Howell in the NFL draft, Garoppolo might be the solution for the Steelers staying relevant and competitive in that division for the next several years.”

Lombardo pointed out that the Steelers are in a good situation where they have the nucleus in place — all they need is a solid veteran starter, and they’re right back in the Super Bowl conversation.

“The longer that you’re trying to hit lottery tickets in the draft with a quarterback, that young core is going to get more expensive, and they’re gonna get older.”

Let’s Talk Money

Let’s pretend for a moment that Lombardo’s sources are right that the Steelers are in the mix for Garoppolo’s services. What might trading for Garoppolo look like?

Firstly, Jimmy G is not a free agent, so they wouldn’t just be trading for the player, but his contract. Garoppolo, 30, has one year left with the 49ers and, per OvertheCap, is due $25.6 million (base salary plus prorated bonus) in 2022.

As teams always do, the Steelers could negotiate a deal to lower the cap hit, but they’d need to take on the contract as-is first. If Pittsburgh does make the trade, they’re in it for the long haul; this wouldn’t be a rental situation. Signing Garoppolo to a long-term deal would be the goal to lessen the financial sting of the trade.

Then there’s what Pittsburgh would have to give up in the trade. Lombardo believes a third-round pick and a player might just do the trick.

What’s More Realistic for Pittsburgh

All of the above is based on the rumor that the Steelers are interested in Jimmy Garoppolo. In reality, it’s not a move the franchise typically makes. Pittsburgh won’t be willing to part with the capital necessary to land Garoppolo, nor should they. With roster-wide holes, they’d be foolish not to use resources to fill those via free agency and take a swing at addressing the quarterback situation via the draft — whether it’s in 2022 or 2023.

As cringe-worthy as it might be for most of Steelers Nation, the Pittsburgh thing to do is ride out Mason Rudolph for the season. Those a very average quarterback, Rudolph is a fraction ($4.04 million per of Garoppolo’s price and makes the most sense for Pittsburgh at this point in the rebuilding phase.

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