ESPN’s Dan Graziano ranked how married all 32 teams are to their starting quarterbacks. Graziano ranked the teams by tiers and commitment level. For example, Atlanta Falcon’s QB Matt Ryan is number one on the list. He’s signed through 2023, but it’s the structure of his contract and the amount of money he’s receiving that earns him the top spot.
For the San Francisco 49ers, their commitment to Jimmy Garoppolo may not be as high as on the list as one would think. He comes in at No. 17 on the list, in the “prove it” tier, ranking behind Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr. Here’s the excerpt on Jimmy G:
Contract: Five-year, $137.5 million contract signed in February 2018, including $48.7 million guaranteed at signing.
The bulk of Garoppolo’s guarantee came in the form of a $28 million roster bonus the team paid in 2018. His $17.2 million salary for 2019 became fully guaranteed April 1 of this year, but none of the remaining three years carries any guarantee at this point. The way the 49ers do their contracts, they have until April 1, 2020, to make a decision on Garoppolo, because that’s when $15.7 million of his $23.8 million 2020 salary becomes fully guaranteed.
Because they used a huge roster bonus and only a $7 million signing bonus, the Niners are well protected against dead-money charges -- cutting Garoppolo after this season would cost them only $4.2 million against next year’s cap. The 49ers are the masters of the team-friendly veteran contract, which gives them all kinds of flexibility. They love Garoppolo, sure, but he has made only 10 NFL starts and is coming off a torn ACL. If he flops, they can look elsewhere without any problems.
Flexibility is nice. There’s always the what-if question. What if Garoppolo’s gunslinger mentality comes back to bite him and he doesn’t turn out to be the quarterback the Niners had hoped? Even then, you’re likely not moving on from Garoppolo.
There are plenty of middling quarterbacks in the NFL. Guys like Case Keenum, Nick Foles, and Joe Flacco are still getting deals. Garoppolo is more talented than each of them. When you look at his situation, surroundings, and the guy who is calling his plays, it’s tough to imagine a situation where he doesn’t pan out, barring injury.