Jimmy Garoppolo trade No. 2: Swapping for Panthers QB Sam Darnold, NFL Draft pick
As intriguing as a Jimmy Garoppolo trade for Baker Mayfield straight up would be, it’s still hard to envision the 49ers absorbing nearly $19 million for a backup, even if it’s just for one year.
That brings us back to another long-argued trade possibility the Niners could make: sending Jimmy G to the Carolina Panthers, who are poised to enter 2022 with two quarterbacking possibilities, Sam Darnold and the rookie, Matt Corral.
Let’s assume Garoppolo is much better than Darnold (he is), and let’s also admit Panthers head coach Matt Rhule enters 2022 on the hot seat, desperately in need of some efficiency under center.
From a contractual standpoint, Carolina would have enough cap space to absorb Garoppolo’s post-trade cap hit if it moved Darnold, which would free up $18.86 million, just like Mayfield. So, San Francisco would be clearing more than $5 million in additional cap space even if it fell into the same situation as with the would-be Mayfield trade of paying a lot for a backup.
Still, there’s an argument Darnold would nevertheless be a safer backup option for Trey Lance over Nate Sudfeld or Brock Purdy, yet the difference between Darnold and Garoppolo would require some additional compensation.
It doesn’t compare much to what the 49ers originally hoped to get out of Garoppolo, but a fourth-round NFL Draft pick probably does the trick.