The 2022 offseason involved not one but two quarterbacks who were waiting to be traded by teams that no longer want to keep them. With the Browns trading Baker Mayfield to the Panthers, that leaves 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo as the next quarterback to move.
The situations have some similarities, but multiple key differences. Garoppolo’s $25 million compensation package isn’t guaranteed. He could be squeezed even more aggressively than Mayfield was to cut his pay, given that Garoppolo eventually could be cut and, after he passes a physical post-shoulder surgery, have no cash in hand for 2022.
Also, the relationship between the 49ers and Garoppolo hasn’t cratered, like the relationship between the Browns and Mayfield had. The 49ers can bring Garoppolo to camp. They can keep him in bubble wrap while waiting for trade offers. (Garoppolo definitely shouldn’t play along with that; however, his “nice guy” reputation likely will be used against him by the 49ers, forcing him to make things ugly by insisting to practice and play in August, if the 49ers try to keep an oft-injured quarterback out of harm’s way while waiting for a quarterback elsewhere to get injured.)
The question continues to be whether Garoppolo will force the issue, the same way that Mayfield seemed prepared to do. It’s even more important that Garoppolo get some certainty, given the possibility that the 49ers will squat on his rights until the regular season approaches before cutting him, making it very difficult to get a competitive offer from teams that already have set their depth charts.
Like Mayfield, Garoppolo needs to get things resolved before training camp opens, so that he can best position himself to win the starting job and have a successful season. The 49ers, if they want too much in trade, could complicate the situation. The financial angle becomes delicate as well, with Garoppolo undoubtedly being expected to reduce his pay — and with the 49ers possibly being expected to pick up some of the tab.
The 49ers actually may now feel even more emboldened to wait for a quarterback injury, given that they no longer have to worry about the team that loses a quarterback calling the Browns about Mayfield. (Of course, the 49ers now have to worry about the team that loses a quarterback calling the Panthers about Sam Darnold.) That makes it even more important for Garoppolo to take the Niners by the nuggets and insist that he be traded or released before training camp opens.