With the Cleveland Browns reportedly crossing themselves off the list of Jimmy Garoppolo trade suitors, does a list even remain?
There are still some intricate options, but they’re dwindling -- quickly -- and have been since the 49ers quarterback first said his farewells to the organization and fans in a heartfelt message back in February.
At the time, Garoppolo told reporters his agents were working with the 49ers to find him a new home this offseason. More than five months later, nothing has changed as he recovers from a shoulder surgery performed in March.
The veteran signal-caller remains on San Francisco’s roster, but efforts to move him are ramping up again after the 49ers on Wednesday gave Garoppolo’s camp permission to seek a trade. And with Garoppolo expected to be fully cleared by mid-August, potential trade offers could be on the table for San Francisco’s front office soon.
Here’s who might be calling, and why:
Originally thought of as a dark-horse candidate in the Garoppolo trade discussions, the Texans might now be a frontrunner.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio on Thursday wrote he believes Houston is “deliberately slow playing the situation” and waiting for the “right chance” to snag Garoppolo.
Even though Houston appears to be high on second-year quarterback Davis Mills, a trade for the playoff-experienced Garoppolo could be enticing for a team that has been absent from the postseason for two years.
Garoppolo is already familiar with Texans general manager Nick Caserio thanks to their time in New England together -- Caserio drafted Garoppolo in 2014 -- and just one year remaining on the veteran’s contract makes it a low-risk play to have the experienced signal-caller come in and compete for a position alongside Mills.
Houston’s options behind Mills on the QB depth chart include Kyle Allen and Jeff Driskel. Even if Mills were to beat out an incoming Garoppolo for the starting job, having a proven winner on the bench over those two backups could be worth it for the Texans.
But Houston has just over $7 million in cap space for the 2022 season, per the NFL Players Association, meaning the three involved parties would need to work out a deal similar to the Carolina Panthers’ trade for Baker Mayfield, which saw the quarterback take a pay cut while the Browns absorbed over half of his remaining salary.
Garoppolo is scheduled to earn $24.2 million in 2022, though none of that is guaranteed.
As far as what the 49ers could see in return for Garoppolo, the Texans have two third-round and three sixth-round picks in next year’s draft. The Browns’ compensation for Mayfield was a 2023 fourth- or fifth-round pick, depending on how much he plays this season, so it’s certainly not out of the question that the Texans could put together a package with picks alone that’s enough to net Garoppolo.
A trade with their division rival? Don’t rule it out.
The Seahawks arguably have the quarterback room most in need of a proven starter like Garoppolo, with Drew Lock and Geno Smith as their top two options heading into the 2022 season. And it’s also a good fit from a scheme perspective.
But are they desperate enough to deal assets to their longtime adversaries down south?
The smart move by Seattle would be to wait and see if the 49ers release Garoppolo, but in doing that, they could miss out on the opportunity to grab him if another team swoops in with a trade offer for San Francisco before then.
The Seahawks have what the 49ers should want with two fifth-round picks in 2023, and one of those could be enough to secure Garoppolo in a deal.
And with Seattle’s near $17 million in cap space this season, a trade with the Seahawks over others might end up costing the 49ers less when it comes to how much of Garoppolo's 2022 salary they would need to eat in order to get him off their hands.
Maybe a reunion between Garoppolo and Mike McDaniel is in the cards after Heavy.com’s Matt Lombardo reported on Wednesday, citing an unnamed NFL executive, that Miami is viewed in league circles as a fit for the 49ers quarterback.
McDaniel, the new Dolphins coach, looks ready to rock with 24-year-old Tua Tagovailoa under center, but he’s incredibly familiar with the 49ers veteran thanks to his past role as San Francisco’s offensive coordinator.
And Garoppolo’s accomplishments don’t hurt compared to Tagovailoa, with a 33-14 record as a starter and recent appearances in the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl under his belt.
Plus, Miami’s offseason additions of Tyreek Hill, Chase Edmonds and Terron Armstead have created an offense primed for a veteran who’s very familiar with McDaniel’s scheme to step in and take the reins.
Like the Texans, the worst-case scenario for the Dolphins would be having a very qualified backup behind Tagovailoa.
As far as a hypothetical trade package goes, the Dolphins hold eight picks in the 2023 draft, including two thirds, a fifth and a sixth. They also have nearly $16 million in available cap space, and both the 49ers and Garoppolo’s camp making a deal with an old friend in McDaniel can’t be entirely counted out.
Shortly after news broke that Garoppolo’s agents were given the go-ahead to pursue a trade, rumors began swirling that the Falcons might have interest in the 49ers quarterback.
The logic behind this hypothetical move doesn’t quite add up, but it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility for a couple of reasons.
The Falcons made their desire for a change under center known when they went all-in on the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, ultimately losing out to the Browns. After flipping Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts, they then signed Marcus Mariota to a two-year contract -- someone viewed more as a stopgap than their quarterback of the future, unless he shocks the world with his play.
Moving past Ryan and on to Garoppolo would give the Falcons an advantage when it comes to the experience and winning pedigree of their starting QB. Whether the move would make sense abilities-wise is up in the air, and Atlanta has a young, mobile Mariota ready to prove his worth.
But it’s evident the Falcons are still searching for a long-term solution under center. Why not bring in Garoppolo and see what he can do? If the 49ers are willing to eat enough of Garoppolo’s salary (the Falcons have $11.4 million in cap space) and Atlanta is willing to part ways with one of their two fourth-round picks or their fifth, it could be worth the deal.
The Falcons just need a placeholder until they perhaps can grab a franchise quarterback in the first round of next year's draft, and Garoppolo seems like an ideal option who could give them a chance to win in the meantime.