ESPN NFL staff writer Dan Graziano spoke with several NFL team executives about the situations surrounding San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. Graziano broke down the options remaining for each team with their incumbent starting quarterbacks and revealed a concerning conclusion for both fanbases, writing, "The majority of the people to whom I spoke for this story believe both players will likely end up being released."
The 49ers have insisted all offseason long that they will not move on from Garoppolo unless they receive fair value for a starting quarterback who has led his team to a Super Bowl and NFC Championship game in two of the past three seasons. Of course, plenty of 49ers fans (and clearly other NFL teams) are skeptical that Garoppolo could be a successful quarterback without one of the league's best playcallers, defenses, and skill-position groups. Graziano also points out that the Niners will be able to release Garoppolo before the regular season and save more than $25 million in salary cap space. However, Garoppolo's full salary effectively becomes guaranteed if he is on their Week 1 roster.
Graziano acknowledged that some of the people he spoke with believed Garoppolo would still draw trade interest, assuming the acquiring team could work out a new contract that lowered his 2022 cap hit. Unsurprisingly, team execs most often said they expected Garoppolo to end up in Carolina as the Panthers' starting quarterback.
Graziano wrote that the Panthers, Seahawks, and Falcons were the only three teams where Garoppolo could expect to walk in and be the starting quarterback. However, the Saints and Vikings were also listed as out-of-the-box possibilities. Still, the strangest suggestion of all came at the close of Graziano's article:
“‘Why not trade them for each other? San Fran saves some money, Cleveland gets a better backup option than Brissett. Baker gets to work with Kyle [Shanahan] for a year and be next year’s [Mitchell] Trubisky.’”
Do you think the 49ers will be able to find a trade partner for Jimmy Garoppolo? Would you be interested in trading him for Baker Mayfield? And if not, do you think the team will be willing to release their longtime starting quarterback?