Jimmy Garoppolo is reportedly the Patriots’ top option for an offseason quarterback addition, and the 49ers could stand to capitalize on it.
Greg Bedard of Boston Sports Journal recently said on the Patriots Press Podcast that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is the New England Patriots‘ “Plan A” at quarterback heading into 2021.
True, the Patriots head coach and general manager, Bill Belichick, is retaining last year’s starting quarterback, Cam Newton, on a one-year deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. But it’s certainly feasible Belichick would make a run at the quarterback he traded to the Niners back before the 2017 NFL trade deadline for a second-round draft pick.
San Francisco’s general manager, John Lynch, has repeatedly said the team is committed to Garoppolo in 2021 despite the quarterback missing all but six games last year because of multiple high-ankle sprains. And also in light of Jimmy G’s 2018 ACL tear that held him out from all but three contests.
That said, every player has a price.
It’s almost like that line in the late 1990s cult classic, Boondock Saints, when one of the MacManus brothers said, “We’re sort of like 7-11. We’re not always doing business, but we’re always open.”
Yes, the 49ers would be open to trading Garoppolo. As long as both the context and the price were correct. Those are the key questions.
Patriots could be desperate for a long-term quarterback
Assuming Newton is gone after 2021, Belichick doesn’t have a ton of options under center for the long run.
New England also owns the No. 15 overall pick. As things stand now, that’ll all but eliminate the Pats from getting one of the big-four quarterbacking prospects in this year’s draft: Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, BYU’s Zach Wilson and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. Even Alabama’s Mac Jones, who has been viewed as a mid-to-late Round 1 pick, could be reached for by another QB-needy squad ahead of the Patriots.
We can’t rule out the possibility of Belichick engineering some kind of trade-up to land one of those four, potentially five names. But we can take away the realization he might be willing to overspend to get someone as a long-term option under center.
Should 49ers play on Pats’ need by upping asking price for Jimmy Garoppolo?
ESPN’s Mike Reiss broke down some additional context between the Niners, Jimmy G and the Patriots’ situation, which is helpful here:
"The Patriots can’t make another team trade with them, but they can at least make the San Francisco 49ers consider it with an enticing offer as the start of the new league year begins March 17, with salary-cap space at a premium.Niners general manager John Lynch recently told the “Eye Test” podcast, with no hesitation, he believes Garoppolo will be the team’s starting quarterback in September if he’s healthy. But Garoppolo’s health challenges are part of the reason the 49ers have previously considered an upgrade, and that’s why some around the NFL are skeptical of their commitment to him.How committed would they be if the Patriots, taking more of an aggressive approach, floated something like a second-round pick (No. 46) or even cornerback Stephon Gilmore to get ahead of what could be a challenging contract situation?"
How enticing is “enticing?”
Sending a second-round pick to San Francisco in exchange for Garoppolo would essentially mean two things. First, the 49ers “rented” Jimmy G for three-plus seasons, which included a Super Bowl appearance (not bad), and they’d also be able to clear $23.6 million in much-needed cap space, $25 million if done after June 1, per Over the Cap.
That would afford Lynch and Co. the opportunity to re-sign some of the team’s high-profile free agents such as left tackle Trent Williams and fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
And even if a player like Gilmore was included, likely wiping out that second-round pick, it would also help out the Niners’ needs, as they’re poised to lose every one of their starting cornerbacks to free agency this offseason. It would adjust the cap space generated, of course, as Gilmore would cost over $7 million after being traded. But it’s a wrinkle to explore nonetheless.
But what if San Francisco could squeeze a bit more out of New England?
Granted, doing business with Belichick is always at the caution of the opposite party, and the Pats head coach won’t go beyond his final limit. Yet it’s not too hard to envision a scenario where the 49ers could ask for something like, let’s say, a third-round pick and Gilmore as part of a would-be deal for Jimmy G.
True, this would open up quite the void for the Niners, who’d suddenly be faced with a major question under center in the wake of Garoppolo’s departure. And it’d likely push San Francisco’s Super Bowl window back out for at least another year, especially if the 49ers elect to go with a rookie quarterback, probably taken with their first-round draft pick this April.
That said, if the Niners are secretly intent on moving on from Jimmy Garoppolo, trying to get the Patriots to overbid might be the best route to take.