There is no shortage of rumors about Jimmy Garoppolo’s future with the San Francisco 49ers with plenty of reasons to think the franchise could be in the market for a new quarterback this offseason. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell cites Garoppolo’s contract, injury history and limited upside as key reasons why the 49ers could opt to move in a different direction.
At the moment, he would have the 11th-largest cap hit among NFL quarterbacks next season. If the team could guarantee he would be healthy for all 16 games, that would probably represent fair value. If there’s a significant chance that he plays only five or six games, though, it’s hard to see how his deal makes sense for the 49ers.
If they agree, the 49ers could try to get him to take a pay cut or release him outright. They could try to get a trade done, although I’m not sure there would be a huge market.
Barnwell Suggests the Niners Make a Run at Aaron Rodgers
One intriguing name Barnwell lists as a possible replacement for Garoppolo is Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay traded up to select Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft identifying the prospect as the team’s quarterback of the future. The challenge is Rodgers is playing as well as he has in his career which could extend his time with the Packers longer than expected.
Barnwell mentions Rodgers as a more likely option for the Niners after the 2021 season as the Packers could opt to move towards Love in 2022. This would mean the 49ers would either stick with Garoppolo for another season or go with a bargain “bridge” quarterback for the 2021 season.
“They didn’t draft Love to sit him for the entirety of his rookie contract,” Barnwell explained. “I don’t think Rodgers is likely to leave until after the 2021 season, but if things end poorly in 2020, could Green Bay send Rodgers to the organization that passed on him in 2005? I could see Rodgers as a possible 49ers quarterback in 2022, but 2021 doesn’t seem likely. If the Packers traded him before June 1, they would eat $31.6 million in dead money on their 2021 cap and only save a little under $5 million in cap space. It would likely take a total collapse from Green Bay or some disastrous turn in the relationship between Rodgers and coach Matt LaFleur for a trade in 2021 to make any sense at all.”
Rodgers on His Career With the Packers: ‘I Don’t Know What the Future Holds’
Rodgers has been open about the idea that he could end his NFL career with another team. The quarterback admitted prior to the season that there could be tension if he wants to continue playing when the Packers decide to turn to Love.
“I don’t know what the future holds,” Rodgers noted in August, per USA Today. “I know I can control this year and my play and my approach and my attitude. …If I retire on the team’s timeline, then all is well. But if they’re looking to move on before I’m ready to be done playing, there comes an impasse at that point. I can control my play and my performance and my approach and my leadership, but at some point, there’s other factors involved. That’s the facts to me at this point.”
Even with Love on the roster, the 49ers face a tall task to pry Rodgers away from the Packers and would likely need a second-half collapse from Green Bay this season for it to have any chance of happening. If the 49ers go into 2021 without a long-term solution at quarterback, Rodgers makes some sense heading into 2022 as the Packers get closer to turning to Love.
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch face a big decision at the position this offseason. The 49ers quarterback opening would be a desirable spot for veteran quarterbacks given Shanahan’s offense combined with the talented defense when the unit is at full strength.