The San Francisco 49ers appear to have found a start in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He has won his first four starts with the team, and is looking the answer they have been seeking at the quarterback position. General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have been effusive in their praise of his work.
Lynch and Shanahan have both made it clear that any potential contract extension will come after the season ends. They have been in touch with Garoppolo’s agent, Don Yee, but formal negotiations will begin after the 49ers wrap up their 2017 season.
Given how this has all gone, it’s hard to see these being difficult negotiations. It does not mean we will see a contract extension wrapped up in short order, but these should not be overly contentious. ESPN Insider Adam Schefter said as much on KNBR Thursday morning.
"First of all, there's a great relationship between both sides and I would say they'll be having conversations. And Paraag and Don have a great relationship. and it's something that I think will be very, very amicable going forward. I would think that they'd have discussions. I would think that they would sit down and meet perhaps in person at some point — maybe in Indianapolis. Usually, the agents have to go there for the agent recertification meetings. All teams are in attendance. There's a lot of meetings that go on there.
"I don't think it's a real difficult deal to get done if that's the direction that the Niners want to go in. I really don't. If Jimmy Garoppolo has such a lofty number in mind that it's not palatable to the 49ers, then maybe at that point you use the franchise tag. But I think Don Yee has shown over time that he's very willing to do deals like this, very capable of doing deals like this, very good at doing deals like this. It should not be a difficult negotiation."
We don’t know what kind of number Yee and Garoppolo will throw out there, but it’s safe to say the starting point on average per year would be somewhere between $23 million and $25 million. Schefter said he thinks that makes sense, and part of the reason he would think that is the franchise tag. If the 49ers use the non-exclusive tag, which would allow Garoppolo to talk to other teams, he would be looking at a one-year tender of approximately $23.5 million. If the 49ers use the exclusive tag, which would prevent Garoppolo from talking to other teams, he would be looking at a one-year tender of just over $25 million.
Even though the franchise tag is only a one-year deal, those would be the starting point. But as Schefter pointed out, there is flexibility in how such a deal would get done.
“I think 24, 25 million makes more sense. 23, 24, 25. Maybe it's $21 million with more guaranteed money and upside and incentives for doing certain things. I mean there's a lot of different ways you can go about this. It's all in the structure of how you want to do it. But let me say this, the 49ers have all the cap room that they need to do this. Again, they have the flexibility, they have the options, and when you’re talking quarterback, which this organization has struggled to come up with in recent seasons, what does it matter if it’s $22M or $24M or $26M? What are we talking about in the grand scheme of things?”
Numbers will likely leak out as negotiations begin, and I am fascinated to see where these discussion points land. Does Yee want to push for Garoppolo to be the highest paid quarterback in the league with the guarantees to prove it? Or are they more amenable to a deal that includes more incentives?
Right now, Matthew Stafford has the highest APY ($27 million) and fully guaranteed money ($60.5 million). Derek Carr has an APY of $25 million, with a full guarantee of $40 million. Andrew Luck is just behind Carr in APY but with $47 million fully guaranteed.
Are both sides ready to get a deal done in January or February, or will one or both sides prefer to wait and see what the market dictates for Kirk Cousins and other quarterbacks that could hit the market?
If you were handling the negotiation, and Yee came to you wanting $26 million or $27 million per year with a full guarantee surpassing $60 million, would you do it? Or would you push for an incentive-laden deal? If I’m Yee, the only way I give in on incentives is if I can get a player opt-out option. Garoppolo is only 26, so he could easily get a second big contract even if he plays this one out. But there are enough question marks that we mostly just have to wait and see how the two sides are willing to play this.