Speculation that Jimmy Garoppolo would one day return to the New England Patriots has been present since the day Bill Belichick traded his former second-round quarterback to the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. With Tom Brady since departed to Tampa Bay and the Cam Newton experiment falling short of expectations in last season, the hankering for an upgrade under center in New England (especially a familiar one) has grown stronger by the day in recent months.
On Friday, Belichick doused some of the flames around the situation — by re-signing Newton to another incentive-laden one-year deal, effectively killing the Garoppolo reunion dream.
However, that did not stop New England from inquiring about a potential trade for the seventh-year signal-caller, according to one Patriots beat reporter.
ALL the latest 49ers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on 49ers newsletter here!
49ers: Garoppolo Not Available ‘Right Now’
In a Friday story detailing Newton’s new contract and the Patriots’ quarterback plans going forward, CLNS Media’s Evan Lazar confirmed that New England did in fact “kick the tires on Jimmy G” prior to re-upping with Newton.
According to a league source, New England called the 49ers recently about the availability of former Pats quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo but were told that Garoppolo wasn’t available right now. Similarly, they were told by the Raiders that Derek Carr was also not on the trade block.
And as we’ve reported multiple times, the Patriots were not impressed by the free-agent class at quarterback; they had no interest in Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jameis Winston, or Mitchell Trubisky, or anyone else.
In a follow-up tweet, Lazar noted that it was the teams’ timelines, more so than any flat-out unwillingness from the 49ers to trade Garoppolo, that shut down a possible trade in the days leading up to the official start of free agency on March 17.
Minimal Benefit in Waiting to Move on From Garoppolo
In terms of a timeline for the Niners, the major benefit to moving on from Garoppolo — either by trade or outright release — prior to June 1 is the ability to spend the nearly $25 million in potential cap savings on the free agent market (or another quarterback acquired via trade). Outside of that, delaying a decision until after April’s NFL Draft wouldn’t make a ton of sense as the financial benefit remains minimal.
If for some reason the 49ers did want to go in a different direction under center after June 1 — which neither John Lynch or Kyle Shanahan have indicated — the team would then be able to split the $2.8 million dead money hit over the 2021 and 2022 seasons, which would net an additional $1.4 million in cap savings this year, according to Spotrac.
At present, most signs point to Garoppolo returning to the Bay as the 49ers attempt to flip the script on last year’s injury-plagued 6-10 campaign that saw Jimmy G miss 10 games due to high ankle sprains. On Thursday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport was the latest insider to suggest San Fran will most likely run it back with their incumbent starter in 2021.
“I don’t get the sense Jimmy G is going anywhere,” Rapoport told the Rich Eisen Show. “If the Niners could upgrade, would they trade him? They probably would. I just don’t know who would be an upgrade. So, I think he sticks there.”
Lynch and the front office continue to do their due diligence on the quarterback market, but the available alternatives likely can’t offer what an established Garoppolo can in the short term as he enters his fifth season in Shanahan’s scheme.
- 49ers Legend Joe Montana Gives Harsh Assessment of Jimmy Garoppolo
- 49ers Named ‘Fascinating’ Trade Partner for Former No. 3 Overall Pick
- 49ers Called NFC Foe About Trade for Former First-Round QB: Report