The San Francisco 49ers are going to pay quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo a lot of money sometime in the near future. There are reports a deal could be done in the coming days, but even if that ends up not happening, he will at least get the franchise tag. But one way or another, Garoppolo is going to earn in excess of $20 million in 2018.
If there ends up being any kind of delay in getting a deal done over the next few weeks, the most frequent talking points will likely be that either the 49ers are being cheap or Jimmy G and Don Yee are asking for too much. Any delay in contract almost always is discussed in the context of money.
However, I have found myself considering whether or not contract length could prove to be a sticking point. Garoppolo is 26, and if he continues developing in a positive direction, a five year deal gives him a chance to dip back in for another big contract when he is 31.
There are two areas to consider with contract length. The first is his lack of playing time and how comfortable the team is doing a lengthier deal. The second is how Garoppolo and Yee might view potential changes to the collective bargaining agreement and/or the NFL’s television deals.
John Lynch has made it clear they want Jimmy Garoppolo for along time. But in these negotiations, the 49ers could decide they would prefer a shorter deal that then includes options for later years. I am hesitant to think this would be an issue given how effusive the 49ers have been in their praise. But, this concern could still be there.
But what about the current collective bargaining agreement and the NFL’s television contracts? The CBA runs through the 2020 season, and most of the league’s television contracts run through the 2021 season. If Garoppolo signed a five-year contract, it would lock him in through 2022. If the TV deals or the players’ chunk of the pie increases substantially in the next CBA or TV contracts, would he look to cash in on that a little earlier?
There is no guarantee television deals will increase when it comes time for renewal. At the same time, last week we saw FOX pay a reported 22 percent increase in rights fees for Thursday Night Football, paying $550 million a year. Increases in the TV deals means increases in the salary cap. If we’re looking at percentage of the cap for contracts, Garoppolo could cash in with a strong deal right now, and then dip back in even quicker.
Garoppolo is set to make a lot of money, regardless of how his contract looks. That’s not to say he should not figure out the way to earn the most cash he can. The 49ers have a ton of cap space, and if they think he is their guy for the future, there is no reason to go cheap on this. But how long each side wants this first deal to last could be something to track.