Garoppolo’s best play is to force the 49ers to use franchise tag

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With so much discussion in recent weeks about what the 49ers plan to do with the contract-year quarterback they acquired from the Patriots for a second-round pick, it’s important to consider the situation from the perspective of the player. Without question, the best move for Jimmy Garoppolo is to sit tight, do nothing, and wait for the deadline for the application of the franchise tag.

The rules of the tag make it critical for any player who may be getting tagged to wait to see whether he’s tagged before he signs a long-term deal. Even if the 49ers offer Garoppolo a contract before the tag deadline based on the anticipated value of the tag (for 2018, roughly $23 million), it’s always better to get tagged before signing it, thanks to the Drew Brees grievance from 2012.

That year, Brees secured a ruling that tags applied in past years by past teams count toward the dreaded (by teams) third tag, which entails a minimum increase of 44 percent over the player’s cap number from the prior year or, for non-quarterbacks, the quarterback tag for that year, whichever number is greater. Brees, who had been tagged once before by the Chargers, was being tagged a first time by the Saints; the ruling made it his second career tag, giving him extra leverage for 2013, if tagged again.

The 49ers seem to know that the tag for Garoppolo is looming; they surely realized it before trading for Garoppolo. And while Garoppolo’s agent, Don Lee, has a history of doing below-market deals for a slightly more famous quarterback client, Brady essentially negotiates his own contracts, with Yee as a bystander. Some believe that, if anything, the Brady dynamic has made Yee more determined to pursue top dollar for Garoppolo.

If/when the 49ers tag Garoppolo, the question becomes whether it will lead to a long-term offer based on the progression of the tag, with a 20-percent bump for 2019 and eventually a 44-percent increase for 2020. (Here’s another interesting question: Would the 49ers consider the non-exclusive tag, which would invite a team to pursue him for a pair of first-round picks in return?) Ultimately, Garoppolo’s best play may be to go year-to-year, like Kirk Cousins has done in Washington.

In a weird sort of way, if the 49ers hope to sign Garoppolo before tagging him, their best play may be to play him. If he remains on the sidelines, he has no injury risk — and thus no reason to trade in the last year of a wage-scale contract for a major, life-changing contract that stops short of simulating the value of the tag in 2018 and 2019.

Ultimately, however, the 49ers likely don’t care about those nuances. They know they need a franchise quarterback. If they have one, they’ll pay him accordingly. And if that means going year-to-year at first, then so be it — especially since that approach would make it easier for them to back out, if they realize he’s not the guy they need.

24 responses to “Garoppolo’s best play is to force the 49ers to use franchise tag

  1. I think it’s a non-issue. Way too early to be speculating about contract moves. I think they need to put him on the field though, because they gave up a bit for what they think is a franchise QB. Given the performance of the rest of Brady’s understudies, as well as Belichick’s, I wouldn’t make that assumption at all. So even tagging him may not be worth it.

    The only way to evaluate a player is to watch him play. The media and fans make too many assumptions about a player’s worth after 94 passes in this league. As an owner or GM, I’d resist that temptation.

  2. What does the transition tag pay? It would seem to me that that would be a better situation for the 49ers. I don’t know if any team would pay an inexperienced qb top money when a rookie is cheaper and is, essentially, the same as Garappolo.

  3. QB’s need to get smart using the franchise tag as pointed out in this article. QB’s have no incentive to take a below market deal since they rarely suffer career ending injuries. The way that Kirk Cousins has manipulated the franchise tag should be the blueprint for QB’s.

  4. Paying the franchise rate for a 1 year try out……no brainer.
    After 2018, the Niners can either jettison Jimmy G or sign a long term deal with the player & agent who both understand how QB contracts directly affect a team’s ability to finance a winner.
    It may not be free….but the Niners essentially own a ‘free option’ with Jimmy G

  5. Seattles D scares absolutely nobody anymore. He should be on the field today. Clara and their batch of inexperienced front office/coaching personnel will screw this up. They are on the 6 year plan.

  6. u4iadman says:
    November 26, 2017 at 9:42 am
    Says
    Brady and the rest are just system QB’s
    Yup same as Bradshaw, Montana, & Aikman what do all those QB have in common? They ALL played in the same system. Except they all had H. O. F players on the offensive & defensive side of the ball. Brady maybe one if Randy Moss gets in & they lost that SB. Yup it’s all about the system that’s original thinking.

  7. The 49ers have something like $115M in projected cap space next year. So yeah the tag is big money for a try out. But it’s not going to seriously impact the team’s ability to sign players next year.

  8. ‘Brady and the rest are just system qb’s.’

    Every NFL QB is a system player. With a 53 man roster and 22 guys participating on every play, you have to operate within a system. If you don’t have a system the results will be horrendous. And no QB is good enough to overcome that.

  9. They need to play him to see if he truly is any good before you throw a bunch of money at him.

    As far as Garappolo, sure he can play the games with the tag to try to earn the most money. No one should fault him for that. But, he could also sign a deal for a lot of money, but less than the highest he could get, so the team still has money to sign guys around him. A lot (not all) of the teams with the highest paid QBs stink, because they don’t have enough salary cap room to afford good players at other spots. From one source, your highest paid QBs this season are Stafford, Carr, Luck, and Palmer. How are their teams doing?

  10. u4iadman says:
    November 26, 2017 at 9:42 am
    Brady and the rest are just system qb’s.

    Such insight! That must be an awesome system.

  11. burnttoast71854 says:
    November 26, 2017 at 10:28 am
    u4iadman says:
    November 26, 2017 at 9:42 am
    Says
    Brady and the rest are just system QB’s
    Yup same as Bradshaw, Montana, & Aikman what do all those QB have in common? They ALL played in the same system. Except they all had H. O. F players on the offensive & defensive side of the ball. Brady maybe one if Randy Moss gets in & they lost that SB. Yup it’s all about the system that’s original thinking.

    Burnttoast71854, I agree with your assessment, but Moss is not the only Hall of Famer Brady has worked with. If Gronk can stay relatively healthy over the next couple of seasons, he will be a first balloter. Even if Gronks career were to end today, he is almost a sure lock, but probably not a first ballot lock.

  12. ‘Brady and the rest are just system qb’s.’

    I usually ignore these system QB comments for the silliness they are. But there was an interview with Brady recently that shows how farther from the truth you couldn’t be.

    “I would say there’s a pretty core group of plays that you have,” Brady said, “but we have, I don’t know the numbers, but there’s over the course a season, pass plays, there’s probably anywhere from 500 to 1,000 that are designed and you’ll probably call 500-600 of them, and there will be repeats within that.

    1000 pass plays and only the football gods know how many run plays, but there have to be at least 200-300 of those if not more. That means the Pats playbook, or “system”, has 1200+ plays in it, by far the most of any NFL team.

    To comprehend, remember and use that many plays, to be able to pull any of 1200+ plays out of his mind at the line of scrimmage says only one thing. The “system” is Tom Brady’s brain. Period.

    So keep embarrassing yourselves with the system comments. Because that’s all you’re doing with them.

  13. “Brady and the rest are just system QB’s.”

    I don’t know why people keep saying this. I guess either they think they are posting a funny troll or they don’t know a thing about football. Anyway, ALL QBs play in someone’s system. They aren’t just out there winging it. It ain’t the playground.

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