How would Jimmy Garoppolo trade affect 49ers salary cap?

Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Jimmy Garoppolo’s career in San Francisco is over. How will a likely offseason trade impact the 49ers’ salary cap?

Despite the former franchise quarterback’s continuing success under center, the San Francisco 49ers put an expiration date on the Jimmy Garoppolo era nearly a year ago when the team executed a painfully expensive pre-draft trade for the third overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.

When their number was called on the first day of the draft, the Niners used their pick on raw but high-upside rookie quarterback Trey Lance. Months later, Garoppolo clearly passed the “franchise quarterback” torch to Lance when his end-of-season press conference was ripe with, “Goodbye,” and devoid of, “See you later.”

Garoppolo’s expiration date has arrived.

The 2021 season he spent watching from the sideline will help Lance as he learns how to become an NFL quarterback in 2022. Hopefully, head coach Kyle Shanahan shows similar progress during the upcoming season. During his five years in San Francisco, the head coach depended on Garoppolo for success, managing a meager 8-28 record without the signal-caller under center.

Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers salary cap

Although the franchise technically paid him long ago, the 49ers will be charged $1.4 million against the salary cap in 2022, regardless of where Jimmy G plays in 2022. However, the team has three options for dealing with his hefty salary over the offseason: trade him, release him, or keep him — in order of likelihood.

Either of the former two options will provide the Niners with $25.5 million in salary-cap space they desperately need for current contracts and future deals for players like do-it-all offensive threat Deebo Samuel.

Given his high cost and the Niners’ need for cap space, there’s little chance Garoppolo plays another down in red and gold. The question is now focussed on who he will play for in 2022. Shanahan and 49ers general manager John Lynch would be wise to trade Jimmy G outside the conference, but there are also quarterback-needy teams in the NFC, like the Washington Commanders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, among others.

Related Story: Potential landing spots for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo

Although it’s far too early to tell, the Pittsburgh Steelers are currently a favorite to land the 30-year old quarterback, and such a trade would result in their 2023 Super Bowl odds — seventh-worst in the league — to skyrocket.

No need to ask; the 49ers hold the No. 5 spot. You know I wouldn’t leave you hanging.

Will the 49ers be able to trade Jimmy Garoppolo?

Garoppolo’s no-trade clause expired earlier this year, so the 49ers are free to trade him to a location of their choosing. Given the paucity of quarterback talent in the draft and the plethora of QB openings across the league, the Niners are lucky to find themselves in quite the seller’s market.

His price tag seems lofty on its face, but compared to the costs of inferior quarterbacks like Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, the number appears much more reasonable. Still, any trading partner will want to negotiate a long-term deal to move money into the future and cement Garoppolo, who has a single season left on his current contract, in place for multiple years.

It’s rare to find a quarterback available on the market with his level of success, which includes conference championship appearances in each of his full seasons. With a bit of patience, San Francisco should be able to deal Jimmy G for some much-needed draft capital lost during the team’s pre-draft trade, while saving $25.5 million in salary-cap space in the process.

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