The NFL rumor mill is going wild when it comes to the 49ers’ quarterback situation next season.
Will the 49ers stay the course and keep Jimmy Garoppolo under center? Will they make a blockbuster trade to acquire one of the proven veterans on the market? Will they move up in the draft to tap into this year’s crop of college quarterbacks? So many questions to answer at 49ers HQ in Santa Clara.
NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco and Laura Britt discussed three of the vets that have been linked to the 49ers lately -- Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson -- on the latest episode of 49ers Talk.
“I think if you were to rank them, most likely, as far as what it would cost to get one of these players, I think Stafford would be at the top of the list,” Maiocco said. “As far as not having to give up as much as you would for Deshaun Watson and for Aaron Rodgers.
“I’d say, if you put all three of those players on equal footing and equal ground, and they’re not obviously, I think Stafford would be the most likely to obtain in a trade. Then I think it would be Rodgers. And because Deshaun Watson is only 25 years old and he’s signed through 2025, it would take the most, whether draft capital or players as well.”
Stafford is due to have a $33 million cap hit next season, compared to Garoppolo’s figure of $27 million. He's expected to leave the Detroit Lions this offseason as the franchise undergoes a complete overhaul. The 49ers would have to clear up some more space on the books to get Stafford, who’s about to turn 33 in February, but he would provide an upgrade under center.
One of the biggest knocks on Garoppolo has been his lack of ability to get the vertical passing game going, something Stafford has done his entire career. Stafford threw for 4,084 yards and 26 touchdowns with 10 interceptions last year.
“The best fit, and the guy who would be able to step in next season and be able to take the 49ers as far as they could possibly go, would be Aaron Rodgers,” Maiocco said. “The best guy for the long-term, the next half-dozen years would be Deshaun Watson. The guy that could enable to keep the roster as close to what it is now, and supply an upgrade at the quarterback situation would be Matthew Stafford.”
Stafford might not be the most exciting option when it comes to the three veterans, but the 49ers wouldn’t have to move mountains to get him. This offseason is already expected to be something of a financial gymnastics meet for NFL front offices with a shrinking salary cap.
The NFL’s new league year doesn’t start until March 17, meaning all trades will be unofficial until then. But only expect the speculation to pick up between now and the Super Bowl.