With only a handful of starting jobs available, Jimmy Garoppolo might have to accept the reality of being a backup in 2022 if the 49ers trade him.
Unless second-year quarterback Trey Lance completely flops during offseason workouts in 2022, the San Francisco 49ers will give him the inside track towards starting this upcoming season.
The reasoning is simple and goes beyond the fact the Niners invested a ton of capital in him during the NFL Draft a year ago. San Francisco’s previous starter, Jimmy Garoppolo, won’t be able to throw a football until training camp, which means Lance will get all those first-team reps during minicamps and organized team activities.
The 49ers attempted to trade Garoppolo during the offseason. But an unforeseen whirlwind in the quarterback market, combined with his offseason shoulder surgery, prevented the Niners from dealing Jimmy G.
It doesn’t automatically mean San Francisco retains him, though. What’s far likelier a possibility is, wherever he suits up in 2022, it’ll be for significantly less than the nearly $27 million he’s owed this season.
There are essentially only two starting quarterback jobs up for grabs around the league right now: the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers. The 49ers aren’t likely to ship Garoppolo off within the division to the Seahawks, meaning Carolina doesn’t exactly have to engage in a lofty bidding war.
So, if the Panthers aren’t interested and Garoppolo is nevertheless traded, then what happens?
Jimmy Garoppolo might have to accept being a backup in 2022
Just because the bulk of NFL teams have their starting situations (mostly) figured out, for now, doesn’t mean there won’t be a market for Garoppolo at all. Yet if a team winds up offering up a trade package for a 30-year-old middle-of-the-road and oft-injured quarterback, it’ll be nothing close to what the Niners were originally seeking.
And Garoppolo surely wouldn’t receive his 2022 contract numbers, likely being asked to take a significant pay cut in what would be the final year of his current deal.
He’d likely have to accept a lessened role, too, acting as a backup to a presumed starter. Or at the very least, Garoppolo would be given an outsider’s chance to at least compete for a starting role.
Going with the former notion, though, it’s not something completely out of the ordinary. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky spent one year with the Buffalo Bills backing up Josh Allen for landing a free-agent deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers to be their starter in 2022, while fellow signal-caller Marcus Mariota was Derek Carr’s backup with the Las Vegas Raiders for two seasons before his free-agent signing with the Atlanta Falcons to be QB1 there.
While it’s far from ideal, this might be the route Garoppolo is forced to take to help resurrect his career.
Which teams may trade for Jimmy Garoppolo in 2022?
It’s one thing to prompt trade suggestions for Jimmy G by teams looking for upgrades to their starters.
It’s another when considering backups.
Cody Benjamin over at CBS Sports listed some possibilities, all of them but the Panthers and Seahawks seeking out backup options.
Head coach Doug Pederson and the Jacksonville Jaguars could be seeking a veteran mentor for last year’s top NFL Draft pick, quarterback Trevor Lawrence, over the current No. 2 on the depth chart, C.J. Beathard. New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur know Garoppolo well, too, and Jimmy G should be considered an upgrade over the aging Joe Flacco.
And even though Carr and the Raiders just inked a long-term extension, Las Vegas could also seek to upgrade the backup spot over another former Niners quarterback, Nick Mullens.
Those are just some of the suggestions, but each of them has some modest logic. It’s also important to remember none of those teams would offer San Francisco much by the way of a trade, and none would be willing to pay Garoppolo what he’s scheduled to receive.
For Jimmy G, however, it might be the last option he has in play.