All backup quarterbacks are backups because they’re not good enough to start. In San Francisco, Jimmy Garoppolo is a backup in large part because he wasn’t healthy when teams were figuring out their starters for 2022.
So now that the Cowboys are looking at an extended stretch without their starter, should they rely on their backup who is a backup for a reason, or should they make a play for the starter who is squirreled away on San Francisco’s roster?
First, the Cowboys would have to want to do it. Too many teams stubbornly cling to the “next man up” vibe at all positions, including the most important. And too many teams don’t try to get a high-end backup. In 2020, the Cowboys had Andy Dalton. And when they needed him to take over for Dak Prescott after he suffered a broken ankle, there was too much of a decline from QB1 to QB2.
Second, Garoppolo would have to want to do it. He has a no-trade clause. He’d have to waive it. Would he do so to play for six or seven games in Dallas, with limited time to prepare?
Third. would the 49ers do it? They re-did Garoppolo’s deal at a time when no one wanted to trade for him, and possibly after they realized Trey Lance may not be the answer. If the Cowboys (or anyone else) call, will the 49ers hang up? That depends on, among other things, what the Cowboys would offer — and whether coach Kyle Shanahan already is thinking seriously about putting Lance back on the bench.
There’s also a possibility, strange as it may seem, that the Cowboys could trade for Garoppolo, use him through Week Eight, and trade him to another team at the deadline. He’d also have to agree to a second trade, obviously. But if Prescott is ready to go by Week 10 (the Cowboys have a bye in Week Nine) and another team needs a quarterback by then, the Cowboys could recoup some of their picks by re-trading Garoppolo. In theory. (Thanks to the person within the broader NFL ecosystem who floated that idea to me earlier via text.)
Before Garoppolo could be re-traded, he’d have to be traded. The Cowboys may be too stubborn to admit they can’t win without Cooper Rush, and/or that they should have had a better plan at the most important position on the team.