Before the Niners make any moves during this free agency period, they’ll need to clear roughly $9-10 million in salary-cap space ahead of the league New Year on Wednesday. The easiest way would be courtesy of a Jimmy Garoppolo trade, which would free up $25 million.
Are we sure there’s a market for Jimmy? As the quarterback dominoes fall, Jimmy remains. The Colts make the most sense, but that'd be telling if they pursue a backup like Marcus Mariota over Jimmy.
The 49ers seem like their hands might be tied as teams know San Francisco needs the cap space, and if they play the waiting game, the Niners will release Garoppolo.
We know who Jimmy the quarterback is t this point. Suppose you add in his injury history and the timing of his most recent surgery. In that case, it’s easy to understand why teams aren’t jumping at the opportunity to throw draft picks at San Francisco for a quarterback who may not be able to throw until July.
If we map out the teams that need a quarterback, here’s how it looks:
New Orleans - Deshaun Watson?
Indianapolis - Mariota?
Now that Seattle has a top 10 pick in the NFL Draft, they’ve been linked to Malik Willis in the first round. If we assume Detroit, Atlanta, Cleveland, Houston, and Miami stay with their incumbent starters, that leaves Pittsburgh as the lone team for Garoppolo — who you’d assume wouldn’t want to be a part of a rebuild in Seattle.
If you’re Pittsburgh, you can afford to be patient or offer below whatever the 49ers are asking. Then again, you don’t have a quarterback. The last thing you want to do is head into the NFL Draft, picking in the back half of the first round without the most important position in the game.
So, now we wait. Releasing Garoppolo isn’t ideal, but holding out until the NFL Draft means San Francisco takes themselves out of the running to sign any big-name free agent this week. That is, of course, unless they elect to restructure/extend Arik Armstead or Jimmie Ward.