The San Francisco 49ers have a significant decision to make with regard to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and it’s safe to say the decision will not happen until the offseason. General manager John Lynch was on KNBR Thursday afternoon, and he said the 49ers and Garoppolo’s representatives have not begun contract discussions.
“We talk to Don Yee, his representative, on a weekly basis. He’s a guy who just, it’s kind of refreshing to talk to him, because the way he’s dealt with Tom, a lot of people have learned, he really wants these guys just to go focus on their business. So, we’ve agreed, ‘hey, there’s gonna be a time for that,’ we keep in regular contact, but no, we haven’t started discussions. I’m sure that will come in due time, and we’re looking forward to that time.”
Since acquiring Garoppolo, the biggest question (other than when he would get his first start) has been about his contract status. He is a free agent after this season, wrapping up year four of his rookie contract. The 49ers have made it clear they are willing to use the franchise tag this spring if a deal is not agreed upon.
The window for using the franchise tag opens in late February, and closes before free agency begins. Barring a deal being done by then, it is all but certain the 49ers will use the tag. The two sides are allowed to continue discussing a contract extension until mid July, but after that, the 49ers and Garoppolo could not negotiate an extension until after the 2018 season.
For the 49ers, they can either use the exclusive or non-exclusive franchise tag. The exclusive tag means a player is not allowed to speak with any other team. The 49ers could trade him with that tag, but that would be the only way he ends up elsewhere. The non-exclusive tag means he can negotiate with other teams. If he signs an offer sheet from a team, the 49ers could then match it or decline to match. If they match it, that’s his 49ers contract. If they do not match it, they would get two first round picks from Garoppolo’s new team.
The exclusive tag would result in a higher one-year salary for Garoppolo, but given the 49ers cap space, this is not an issue. My guess is we see the exclusive tag and negotiations go from there. if Garoppolo signs his franchise tender, that money becomes fully guaranteed for the coming season. That helps set a base line for guaranteed money in a long term deal, combining that with a potential 2019 franchise tag number. For now, it’s all part of the dance to get this thing done.