49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has a $25 million compensation package for 2022. As negotiated, none of it was guaranteed. Based on his performance in 2019, $7.5 million of his 2022 salary became guaranteed for injury only.
So how does that impact the team’s current decision-making processes regarding Garoppolo?
Put simply, not at all. If he’s released before he can pass a physical, the 49ers would potentially be on the hook for $7.5 million — if he ultimately can’t play in 2022 due to the shoulder surgery. But if he’s not able to play, the 49ers will be paying him at least that much for 2022. The real question is whether they’re willing to pay him $25 million.
Once Garoppolo passes a physical (he said last week that he expects to be ready to go when camp opens), the injury guarantee becomes irrelevant. At that point, he has no guarantees at all — unless he’s on the roster when Week One rolls around. So if the 49ers, for example, include him within the final roster cuts to 53, Jimmy G. becomes SOL.
Regardless of the partial injury guarantee, no one will trade for Garoppolo and his $25 million compensation package until he’s cleared to play. If he’s cut, someone possibly would sign him under the anticipation that he’ll be cleared, if the total value of the contract is reasonable.
Ultimately, the absence of a trade market for Garoppolo has little to do with the shoulder surgery and a lot to do with the fact that Garoppolo isn’t as good or desirable as the 49ers want other teams to think he is. The partial injury guarantee is a non-issue. The magnitude of the final year of the contract is a major issue. No one wants to give the 49ers value for a middle-of-the-pack-at-best quarterback who won’t excite a fan base or turn a playoff contender into a Super Bowl participant.
At best, Garoppolo could help a bad team become better. If the Texans can get him on the open market, for example, maybe 4-13 becomes 8-9. That’s not enough to get the Texans or anyone else to trade for him.
But stubborn is as stubborn does, and the stubborn 49ers will continue to wait for something to materialize on Garoppolo when their best hope at this point is a freak injury that creates a sudden need for a starter. Even then, there’s a chance that the team in question will opt for “next man up” over bringing Garoppolo in.