Technically, Jimmy Garoppolo adds nothing to the 49ers’ 2018 salary cap because his contract expires after the 2017 season. But in reality, the 49ers have just made a trade that will add a significant cap hit in 2018.
The 49ers wouldn’t have traded a second-round pick for Garoppolo if they didn’t either already have an understanding with him about what it would take to get him signed to a long-term contract, or have plans to put the franchise tag on him in March. The franchise tag would guarantee him a 2018 salary of somewhere around $25 million, so he’d be crazy to sign for anything less than $25 million up front. One way or the other, Garoppolo is going to be a very rich man within the next five months.
And the high second-round pick the 49ers just gave up for Garoppolo would be an inexpensive player: One of the reasons those picks are valuable is that a high second-round pick only costs a little more than $1 million against the salary cap. So the 49ers just traded an inexpensive asset for an expensive asset.
The good news for the 49ers is they have the cap space: According to Spotrac, the 49ers have more than $50 million in cap space in 2018, the third-most in the NFL, despite having 48 players under contract for 2018, the second-most in the NFL. Some people thought the 49ers were saving up cap space so they’d be able to afford Kirk Cousins. As it turned out, they were saving up because they’re going to pay Garoppolo a lot of money next year.