Steelers Predicted to Trade For ‘Elite Bridge’ QB

Mike Tomlin

Thearon Henderson/Getty Images Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the sidelines against the San Francisco 49ers on September 22, 2019.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier is going to be pleased if a predicted trade between the Steelers and San Francisco 49ers takes place, as 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is his stated preference to be Pittsburgh’s starting QB in 2022.

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Prediction: Jimmy Garoppolo to Pittsburgh for 2 Draft Picks

In an article published on February 21, The Athletic’s Bay Area Editor-in-Chief Tim Kawakami predicts that the 49ers “will trade Garoppolo to Pittsburgh for a fourth-round pick this year and a conditional fourth-round pick next year that could slide up to a second-rounder,” with the round two compensation triggered if Pittsburgh makes the playoffs and Garoppolo plays 75% of the snaps in 2022.

That’s a curiously specific prediction. It’s also less compensation than some might expect, but “at 30, with his injury history and given his occasionally hard-to-define worth, I think Garoppolo is likely to be viewed this cycle as a very good placeholder QB,” writes Kawakami, before also describing him as “an elite bridge guy, slightly above the Ryan Fitzpatrick level and solidly above the Teddy Bridgewater/Andy Dalton level.”

In other words, a quarterback who might well keep the Steelers a playoff team, even as the organization goes in search of a long-term answer at the position.


Prediction 2: The Garoppolo Trade Will Be ‘Agreed to and Reported by the End of This Month’

Kawakami also believes that both Garoppolo and the 49ers are interested in “clearing the decks relatively quickly,” citing two reasons.

“I think (the 49ers are) aware a bidding war is unlikely; they have to understand that an extra delay could make it seem like they’re hesitant to fully anoint Lance,” a reference to quarterback Trey Lance, who the 49ers drafted No. 3 overall in 2021.

“Also, the 49ers want to do right by Garoppolo and that means sending him somewhere he wants to go and not taking so long that all of the good spots are already taken,” adds Kawakami.

Pittsburgh would definitely qualify as a good landing spot, as the Steelers are a perennial playoff contender with a number of enviable offensive weapons, including running back Najee Harris, presumed starting tight end Pat Freiermuth, and several quality young receivers in Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. Those players—combined with Garoppolo and an expected infusion of talent on the offensive line—could allow the Steelers to remain above the playoff line in 2022—and perhaps beyond.


Jimmy Garoppolo’s NFL Résumé, Salary

And what would the Steelers be getting in Garoppolo? He’s a former second-round pick—selected by the New England Patriots No. 62 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft—who has eight years of NFL experience, three with the Patriots and five more with the 49ers.

Since coming into the league he has started 47 games (63 total appearances), compiling a 33-14 record. Along the way he has completed 67.7% of his passes with 71 touchdowns against 38 interceptions, good for a passer rating of 98.9, per Pro Football Reference. Most notably, perhaps, he got the 49ers to Super Bowl LIV, though San Francisco lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 31-20, a game in which Garoppolo passed for just 219 yards and threw a pair of interceptions.

According to overthecap.com, he is slated to earn a $24.2 million salary in 2022, the final year of a five-year, $137.5 million contract he signed with the 49ers.

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