Three Jimmy Garoppolo Free Agency Destinations
The San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl hopes came crashing down around them on Sunday as Kyle Shanahan finally experienced a quarterback problem that he couldn't overcome. The loss to the Philadelphia Eagles almost certainly marked the last game of Jimmy Garoppolo's 49ers tenure. Garoppolo, who started as the second-string quarterback, but ended up starting 10 games before he got injured, will be an unrestricted free agent in March, and while he has gotten the job done while healthy in San Fran it would be best for both parties to move on.
Garoppolo's market does not look as good as it did a few months ago. Derek Carr is officially available. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady might be, too. Those dominoes will need to fall in order for Garoppolo's future to crystalize. We can, however, take a gander at what teams will at least be interested in the veteran QB who, when healthy, is good enough to win games and fight for the postseason.
What will be the next stop on Garoppolo's fascinating career journey? Here are a few potential destinations.
The Commanders are almost certainly going to cut Carson Wentz this offseason because they can do so with no financial penalty. Taylor Heinicke is also going to be a free agent. Neither of those guys got it done last year and as much as everyone loves Heinicke conceptually, the on-field product was not good with him under center. Sam Howell looked okay in his first NFL start but he is still far from capable of leading even an average team. The job is open.
Washington is certainly scarred from trading for all these veteran QBs over the last few years but signing Garoppolo is a much safer bet, if only because they won't have to give up draft picks to make it happen. The Commanders are not going to throw Howell back there and lead a quasi-tank because they would have fired Ron Rivera by now if they were going to do that. For better or for worse they want to compete. Signing Garoppolo is the most realistic and cheapest way for them to accomplish that and thus they must be considered frontrunners for the vet.
Las Vegas Raiders
As mentioned above the Raiders are moving on from Derek Carr. They probably have their sights set very high and hope Tom Brady will bless the franchise with his presence or that they can pull off a very expensive trade for Aaron Rodgers. In the somewhat likely universe where neither of those moves work out, Garoppolo is probably the next-best thing. Las Vegas will be hard-pressed to go after one of the top QB prospects available and have nobody on the roster capable of keeping the team competitive. It seems unlikely they'll want to tank given how much money they are paying their offensive skill position players.
Josh McDaniels knows Garoppolo from their years in New England together and could definitely put together an effective offense around him. If Brady and Rodgers are indeed on the move then Garoppolo could end up being pretty cheap. Pay him and invest everything else the team has in the defense and that's a team capable of winning enough games to compete for a postseason spot. Probably not a championship. But as close as the team can get if they whiff on big names.
New York Jets
The Jets are the No. 1 suitor for Rodgers and will most likely end up with the Hall of Fame quarterback if he does hit the trade block. But that is far from certain. Garoppolo should be at the top of their backup options list. He's exactly what this team needs-- a steady veteran who will play within the scheme of the offense and not make too many backbreaking mistakes. He's still good for one or two boneheaded throws a game but that is still a massive upgrade over Zach Wilson.
Garoppolo in Jets green has felt like the likeliest outcome for the last few months. He is good enough to win with an elite roster around him and New York has that. It is not the home run swing that Rodgers would be, but the Jets have gone a long time without even a decent football team. Garoppolo will help them get there more than any other non-Rodgers option.