The San Francisco 49ers decision to trade for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo brings with it the issue of his contract. Garoppolo is playing the last season of his rookie deal, and as a player selected after the first round, that means he is a free agent after this season.
The 49ers have a variety of options at their disposal. We’ve already seen some of the media posturing, with reports ranging from they could franchise and trade him in the offseason to he could be extended by the time he makes his first start later this season. It’s safe to say the posturing will not end soon.
While the 49ers do have options other than signing Garoppolo, odds seem pretty good they will work to get him locked up to a long-term deal. Giving up a single second round pick for him does not commit the 49ers for the foreseeable future, but I just don’t see them not getting a deal done.
New England Patriots beat writer Ben Volin wrote that the noon-exclusive franchise tag would be worth around $23 million next year, while the exclusive franchise tag would be worth around $25 million. Aside from the 49ers using the franchise tag, that also could serve as a baseline for any contract extension from Garoppolo’s side.
So, what are the options? There are a variety of comparisons to make. We are using numbers found at Over The Cap. To find some of the older contracts, I used the Way Back Machine to find archives pages. For example, Brock Osweiler’s
Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr are two of the most recent big money quarterback contract extensions. Stafford signed a five year, $135 million deal, with $60.5 million fully guaranteed. He can earn $87 million in the first three years of the deal. Carr signed a five year, $125.025 million deal, with $40 million fully guaranteed. He can earn $67,675,000 in the first three years of his deal.
The average per year is worth noting, but really has little value in the bigger picture. With Stafford’s deal, a $50 million signing bonus is going to inflate the later years. And these contracts are going to be renegotiated sooner rather than later anyway.
Garoppolo: Odds Garoppolo gets this kind of deal? Barring a monster performance over the final six games if he is starting after the bye week, it is unlikely we see him landing this big a deal.
Brock Osweiler, Mike Glennon
The Denver Broncos were not prepared to pay Brock Osweiler after having to bench him during their Super Bowl run. He still managed to hood-wink the Houston Texans into giving him a four-year contract worth up to $72 million. He managed a $12 million signing bonus, and $37 million total in fully guaranteed money. He lasted one year on the contract, and was traded to the Cleveland Browns in a salary dump.
Meanwhile, Mike Glennon signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Bears worth $45 million. He received a $3 million signing bonus, and $18.5 million in fully guaranteed money. He has $2.5 million guaranteed for next season, but it will be interesting to see what Chicago does now that they have made the switch to Mitchell Trubisky.
Garoppolo: These situations offer some similarities to Garoppolo, but not a lot. He has limited starting experience like Glennon, but he would be in line for a much bigger contract. What about signing a three- or four-year deal that pays north of $20 million per year to build up his value and then get his second dip as he is approaching his 30th birthday? If he signs a five- or six-year deal, he’ll likely be renegotiating it within two or three years anyway, so maybe he decides to go a little shorter.
Andy Dalton prove-it contract
Dalton has always had questions about his performance, and his “big” contract extension with the Bengals indicates a team not quite willing to go all in. Dalton signed a six-year contract worth $96 million back in 2014. Like Colin Kaepernick before him, he received a $12 million signing bonus and a $5 million roster bonus payable upon signing the contract. That was the extent of his fully guaranteed money, giving Cincinnati every opportunity to walk away from the deal along the way. Sounds familiar!
Garoppolo: If Garoppolo and his agent Don Yee are intent on getting the contract that looks bigger than it actually is, this is certainly one example. While I don’t think Garoppolo will get the Stafford type guarantee, I just don’t see Don Yee settling for this kind of weaker deal.
Shorter-term Sam Bradford compromise deal
Mike Sando put together a look at how the whole situation might play out, and his fourth option was a deal similar to the two-year contract Sam Bradford signed with the Minnesota Vikings. He signed a two-year deal worth $35 million in March 2016. He received an $11 million signing bonus, and had $22 million fully guaranteed.
Sando’s agent and personnel resources suggest Garoppolo could ask for $42 million over two years, with $25 million fully guaranteed in the first year. One cap specialist suggested a three-year deal worth $57 million.
Garoppolo: The Vikings went out of their way to acquire Sam Bradford, sending a 2017 first and 2018 conditional fourth to the Philadelphia Eagles. They had just lost Teddy Bridgewater to injury, and were desperate. The 49ers are desperate for a long-term answer, but did not have quite the immediate desperation. This would fall somewhat in line with the idea of a shorter deal like Brock Osweiler got, but with less money. Garoppolo could earn $25 million with the franchise tag, so that seems like a baseline for year one money in a new deal. But again, does he go shorter-term to cash in big sooner rather than later?
Hell if I know. I think something a little shorter makes sense, but I also think it would be more robust than what Mike Glennon signed. It’s a tough situation for assessing value. The 49ers clearly like what he can do given the trade, but also don’t really have a clear idea of what he will actually do moving forward.
I would be surprised if they committed to anything more than four years, and Garoppolo seems like he would be in a position where he can bet big on himself over the short term. Maybe something in the four-year, $90 million range, with somewhere around $30 million payable in that first year between a signing bonus, salary, and any other bonuses?
The 49ers use roster bonuses and rolling guarantees with regularity, so those would likely factor in as well. Don Yee might decide he’s willing to do that in exchange for a bigger up-front payment.
It is worth noting that if the 49ers sign him to a contract extension before the end of the current season, the prorated signing bonus would start this year. Considering the amount of cap space this year and next year, I imagine any deal would be front-loaded fairly heavily.