Will 49ers keep Garoppolo beyond 2017?


The notion that the 49ers may not keep quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for more than the balance of the season seems ludicrous on the surface, for a couple of reasons. First, they gave up a second-round pick to get him. Second, they have lavished sufficient praise on Garoppolo both publicly and privately to create the impression that he’s indeed the guy for 2018 and beyond.

But there’s a more subtle dance that will unfold over the next several months, arising from the dulcet tones of the franchise tag and the free-agency market. If the 49ers make it too clear that they intend to keep Garoppolo, their only option may be to use the franchise tag on a year-to-year basis, like Kirk Cousins has done in Washington. For that reason, it’s no surprise that ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the trade for Garoppolo doesn’t mean the 49ers definitely will sign him to a long-term deal.

Absent a long-term deal, it would cost roughly $23 million to keep Garoppolo for 2017 under the franchise tag. By rule, that $23 million would become $27.6 million in 2018. That’s $50.6 million that Garoppolo should want, fully guaranteed at signing, to do a long-term deal in San Francisco, if the long-term deal is based on the tag. Absent that kind of investment, Garoppolo should simply opt for the year-to-year approach — especially since the franchise tender would spike to more than $39 million in 2020.

The 49ers won’t want to do a long-term deal with the franchise tag as the starting point. To do that, they’ll have to persuade Garoppolo to base his expectations on market value instead. Which will require the 49ers to convince Garoppolo that the 49ers won’t use the franchise tag. Which arguably makes Schefter’s report the first step in selling this reality to agent Don Yee.

The next step likely will be a Sunday splash report or two later this year that the 49ers may still pursue Kirk Cousins in free agency. This would allow the 49ers to leverage Garoppolo against Cousins and Cousins against Garoppolo in the hopes of getting one of them for less than what it would cost to get Cousins signed without Garoppolo in hand or to get Garoppolo signed without the possibility of adding Cousins.

Of course, the 49ers would have to make their decision before the deadline for applying the franchise tag, which comes two weeks before the start of free agency. Which means that they’ll need to know what Cousins would want from the 49ers to sign there. Which means that they’ll have to tamper with Cousins, at some point. (It’s OK; everybody does it.)

The fly in the ointment for the 49ers could be a decision by Washington to tag Cousins for a third time, after San Francisco has a wink-nod deal in place with Cousins and decides not to tag Garoppolo. If that happens, however, the 49ers would still be able to sign Garoppolo before he hits the market, possibly for less than a deal that uses the tag as the starting point.

The bigger risk would be the use of the transition tag by Washington and a decision to match any offer Cousins gets. Under that scenario, the 49ers would have to be willing and able to make Cousins and offer via a structure that Washington couldn’t or wouldn’t match. Otherwise, they could end up without either guy.

However it plays out, it’s possible (as pointed out here on Monday night) that Garoppolo is merely a short-term rental with an option to buy, costing the 49ers a second-round pick for 2018 but with the chance of getting a third-round pick in 2019 via the compensatory draft, if they ultimately don’t keep Garoppolo around. Given the importance of having a franchise quarterback, a one-round downgrade (more like two rounds, since the price is a high second-rounder in 2018 for a low third-rounder in 2019) in the draft arguably is worth it to have the chance to fall in love with Garoppolo before having to decide whether to marry him.

24 responses to “Will 49ers keep Garoppolo beyond 2017?

  1. For so long as Ted Thompson remains GM in Green Bay, the Packers will not rise to the top. Therefore, if I were advising Aaron Rodgers, I’d tell him to demand a trade to the 49ers, which is an up and coming team. He will lead them to the promised land and be back where he wanted to be in the first place – San Francisco.

  2. The decision to tag Jimmy is obvious. Even if they planned to sign Cousins Jimmy would have trade value at the franchise tag level.

    I think SF would probably be best served signing Garrappolo to a deal with that $50 million guaranteed if they can get another two years at a slight discount. There is risk to Garrappolo is playing on the tag. (1). What if he doesn’t play well? (2). What if he gets hurt? So the Niners guarantee Jimmy $50 plus million and he gives up a few million a year in years three and four.

    Will be really interesting to see how much a good QB makes on the open market.

  3. The 49ers have a lot of options coming into a draft that has several good QB prospects. It really depends on whether or not they trust John Lynch and his ability to evaluate those QBs. If there is a QB coming out that is as good as Carson Wentz, would the 49ers choose Wentz over Garoppolo? Does Lynch trust himself to make that call?

  4. Clara will Brown this. Just watch….Lynch will be so stuck on options and trying to make sure they get ‘the guy’ that the system and plan will be jacked up in the obsession.

  5. “Absent a long-term deal, it would cost roughly $23 million to keep Garoppolo for 2017 under the franchise tag. By rule, that $23 million would become $27.6 million in 2018. That’s $50.6 million that Garoppolo should want, fully guaranteed at signing, to do a long-term deal in San Francisco”

    What does the 2017 tag number have to do with the situation since he is still under his rookie contract this season? What he should want is guaranteed the tag amounts for 2018 and 2019, which will be an even higher amount.

  6. Do people have amnesia ? you can only franchise tag someone twice
    in a row , the players are not prisoners!…. What ? QB’s can’t be free agents ?

  7. .
    This is a typical ESPN manufactured news story. Of course, the 49ers aren’t ready to commit to a long term contract this morning. Garopollo has participated in three practices and zero games. After having a few games under his belt, the situation will resolve itself.

  8. If anyone in the York family is intelligent enough to decipher that puzzle, I’ll eat my airedale. They’ll find a way to screw it up, you can bank on it.

  9. I don’t understand all of the hand wringing in regards to putting the one year franchise tag on Garoppolo since the 49ers are currently spending the least at the most important position. I think they are paying C.J. Beathard with Subway sandwich coupons.

  10. The 49ers gave up a very high #2. That pick could have gotten a reasonable QB prospect in the 2018 draft.
    If they don’t keep Garoppolo then thats a huge mistake.
    They could have traded that for future picks, its not trivial.

  11. No way the 9ers franchise him. If he were good enough now for the franchise tag, Bellichek would have found a way to sign him long term. If he were a franchise qb, no way in hell would the Pats let him go with Brady being older than dirt.
    The Pats are paying Brady $10MM per year, plus a $30MM side deal, they could have easily fit a $10-12 MM future HOF qb(according to Pats fans last week) into their plans.
    My bet is he turns out to be another Hoyer or Cassel

  12. I just watched his only complete game against Phoenix to start the 2016 season. Jimmy G looked great, especially in the first quarter. Did he look 50 million dollars great? Not yet grasshopper, not just yet.

  13. Depending what happens with Brady, it’s also possible that Jimmy ends up back with the Patriots.

  14. Average QB salaries are ridiculous. Free agency is a mediocre player’s market. And good coaches are pretty rare. I would suggest do like Indy did and suck for luck but there none in the draft worth it and if it was, the coaches aren’t interested in winning. Gruden sucks at play calling.

  15. I don’t get it.

    Garropolo isn’t close to being worth QB franchise tag money (at least, he hasn’t show it yet).

    So why trade for him?

    Aside from the franchise tag option (which would be a terrible decision), does having Garropolo on the roster at the end of the year provide any advantage to signing him long-term?

    Unless the Niners and Garropolo have a hand-shake deal, it seems to me that they have given away a VERY EARLY second round pick for NOTHING.

    In fact, for the “privilege” of paying the rest of Garropolo’s 2017 salary.

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