Yes, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has raised the quarterback market by $500,000 per year. But there’s still much to be learned about what the contract is truly worth.
Matt Maicco of NBC Sports California supplements the five-year, $137.5 million total-package report with news that the deal contains $74 million in total guarantees. As we’ve learned, time and again, that’s just the beginning.
Key factors include the signing bonus and the total amount that is truly and fully guaranteed at signing. The triggers for future guarantees will also be important, given the team’s use of the very late annual date of April 1 as the moment when Colin Kaepernick‘s salaries converted from injury-only to fully-guaranteed.
It also will be interesting to see whether the 49ers foisted onto Garoppolo and his agent, Don Yee, other devices that were used in the Kaepernick deal, including a requirement that the player purchase disability insurance that would be payable to the team in the event he suffered a career-ending injury.
Regardless of the structure, Garoppolo should have forced the team to apply the franchise tag before doing a long-term deal. If the 49ers had used the exclusive version of the tag, he could have asked for more than $97 million over the first three years of a long-term deal based on the tag. If they’d opted to go with the non-exclusive tag, it would have been fair to seek $90 million over three years. Either formula likely will be better than what he’ll get under the first three years of the contract he signed.
Apart from the tag providing a better starting point for Garoppolo than simply trying to one-up Matthew Stafford (who averages $27 million per year), there’s value in commencing the process of collecting franchise tags, since a third career tag (whether with the 49ers or another team) would have given Garoppolo significant leverage in the form of a 44-percent raise over his cap number from the prior year.
For now, we’ll wait for the full details to be made available, as they always are. At that point, it will be easier to praise, or to criticize, the decision of Garoppolo and Yee to trade the ability to play the year-to-year game of tag with whatever the specific package may be that he obtained from the team.
Whatever the numbers, it’s only a matter of time before the current highest-paid player in the game no longer is. Whether it’s Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, or someone else, it’s just a matter of time (as in weeks) before Garoppolo surrenders the throne.