A lot has changed since we last examined possible trade destinations for Jimmy Garoppolo in the immediate aftermath of his season-ending interception in the NFC Championship Game. Yet one crucial element remains the same: he is still a member of the San Francisco 49ers. Despite expectations to the contrary, the Niners have been unable to find a trade partner for Garoppolo and his $25 million salary for 2022. Every possible option decided to pursue different routes, perhaps in part dissuaded by the shoulder surgery Garoppolo had to undergo this offseason.
Jimmy G is reportedly healthy now, and the 49ers have given his agents permission to find a trade themselves.
The best way to maximize a return at this point would be to wait until the injury bug strikes an unfortunate quarterback room forcing someone to make a desperation trade. The problem is that the Niners can't really afford to do that. It'll be rather hard to get everybody in the locker room behind new starter Trey Lance with Garoppolo, who led most of the roster to a Super Bowl appearance, loitering in the background.
It appears San Francisco agrees with this logic if the organization has given Garoppolo's team the go-ahead to try to figure something out. With all the pieces pretty much in place around the league, where could he end up?
The Browns are likely to be missing Deshaun Watson for at least some of next season. They have reportedly looked into Garoppolo as a backup option if Watson gets hit with a big suspension instead of relying on Jacoby Brissett to lead the team to the promised land. It could be a good move for both sides. Garoppolo gets a shot to shine in a talented offense with a good play-caller and Cleveland doesn't have to lose a season after trading for Watson despite knowing what the consequences would be.
The biggest issue is obvious: the Browns burned up a lot of draft capital to get Watson and can't afford to send valuable picks for Jimmy G. If the Niners are willing to lower the price, the Browns would probably pony up more than any other option out of necessity.
This feels like the most likely option, even if it is the lamest. There will come a point where San Francisco just wants to get something for Garoppolo and move on. That would be where Houston comes in. The Texans aren't planning to win next season and are awash with draft picks after the Watson trade. Houston could bring Jimmy G aboard as a veteran presence and very highly-paid backup to tutor Davis Mills. Or the Texans could turn it into a competition to push Mills and let Garoppolo put on a watchable football game. The team has an obscene amount of open cap space.
It's easy to see Houston flipping a sixth-round pick for Garoppolo. What have they got to lose, really?
Seattle is one of the very few teams in the league with an open QB competition that does not feature any exciting options. Drew Lock wasn't good for the Broncos and Geno Smith didn't play much above replacement level for the Seahawks last season. Garoppolo, for all his warts, is miles better than both of those guys and would be a far better bet to help keep Seattle competitive after they ditched Russell Wilson. Like the Browns, the Seahawks don't have a ton of picks to throw around, but could be pushed to send as high as a fourth-rounder for Garoppolo.
Of course, all that is contingent on the Niners' willingness to send their former starting QB to not only a division opponent, but their primary rival in the league. Which feels unlikely. The NFC West is already competitive enough as is. And the Seahawks were a big thorn in Jimmy G's side when he did play against them. So we'll say this is a long shot, but something is better than nothing for San Fran and as the only team with a true question mark at QB at this point, Seattle has to be included.