The San Francisco 49ers have a big decision to make with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He is in line to play these final four games, and during or after that time, the 49ers have to decide if they are ready to pay up the big bucks it will take to ink him to a long-term contract extension.
The 49ers have an ace card to play this coming offseason with the franchise tag. They could apply the exclusive franchise tag, and Garoppolo would not be allowed to negotiate with anybody. The 49ers could apply the non-exclusive tag, which opens the door for Garoppolo to talk to other teams. If in the latter case he signs a tender, the 49ers can choose to match it, or let him walk in exchange for two first round picks.
Former NFL agent Joel Corry took a crack at projecting out the franchise tag numbers for 2018. He increased the salary cap from $167 million to $180 million, which would be consistent with recent cap growth. In doing so, it would result in a non-exclusive franchise tag value for quarterbacks of $23,555,000.
Even if the 49ers are ready to make a deal with Garoppolo, the quarterback will have some factors of his own to consider. If he signs the franchise tender, the money becomes fully guaranteed. If he does that and then the 49ers franchise him again next year, he would be due a raise of 120 percent, which would be a single year salary of $28,266,000. That is two years worth of salary totaling $51,821,000.
That helps to set a bar for what Garoppolo might look for in terms of guaranteed money. Playing back-to-back franchise tags runs the risk of injury and a step back in play, but if Garoppolo finishes this year well, it would make sense for him to try and get $50 million or more fully guaranteed.
Plenty can and will change between now and the start of free agency. Heck, plenty will change between now and the end of the regular season. I think we see Garoppolo signed to a lengthy deal, but we’ll have a better handle on things a month from now.