The beauty of the draft is that you never know what’s going to happen or what will come next. Last year, nobody thought that Alex Leatherwood would get drafted in the first round. Everyone had the Bengals pegged to tackle a tackle since that was more valuable than a wide receiver. Justin Fields was sure to go in the top-10 between all of the quarterback-needy teams.
We’re less than a week away from the NFL Draft and two of the most prominent figures on the 49ers roster could be traded. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell proposed a trade where the Pittsburgh Steelers punt on a rookie quarterback and go the veteran route:
Steelers get: 2-61, 4-134, QB Jimmy Garoppolo
49ers get: 1-20, 3-84
They don’t have the cap space to afford the $25 million remaining on Garoppolo’s deal in 2022, and the 49ers need draft capital after trading three first-rounders for Trey Lance. We can satisfy both of these teams’ needs if they manage to split the money.
To get this to work, the 49ers would convert $16 million of Garoppolo’s base salary into a roster bonus and pay it immediately, bringing his salary down to a far more palatable $8.2 million. The Steelers would move down 41 picks for the privilege. This deal would value Garoppolo and the $16 million San Francisco is eating as something close to the 27th pick in a typical draft.
Barnwell used the Browns trade back in 2018 when they paid nearly $16 million for draft picks to eat Brock Osweiler’s contract. He noted how the 49ers don’t have leverage given Garoppolo’s injury and salary.
In this hypothetical, the 49ers' top draft picks would be 20, 84, 93, and 105. They come out ahead after moving on from a player who was not a part of their future plans. This would be a colossal victory for San Francisco.
At 20, you’re looking at a center such as Tyler Linderbaum, a cornerback or safety, or even a wide receiver at the tail end of that positional run. I’d go Georgia safety Lewis Cine and come away thinking I drafted an All-Pro. Who knows, maybe a wideout falls and another team wants to jump the Packers and Cardinals so you can trade back a few slots and net more picks. The options are endless.
There isn’t a scenario that involves the team moving Jimmy and getting a first-round pick in return where they lose. As Barnwell mentioned, the 49ers would have to take on some of Garoppolo’s salary. But, in exchange, you’re getting a fifth-year option on a player. Sign me up.