Jimmy Garoppolo's five-year contract extension for $137.5 million made him the highest paid player in the NFL and included the largest guaranteed three-year total ($84 million) and highest annual average value ($27.5 million) in NFL history. When news of his signing came out last Thursday, some argued that it was too much money for a player with such a small sample size, but here are five reasons why the 49ers contract extension with Garoppolo was a wise and fair investment.

The front-loaded contract leaves outs for the 49ers and their ample salary-cap space


While Garoppolo's guaranteed money is high, cutting Garoppolo after the 2019 season would leave the 49ers with a reasonable $4.2 million in dead money if he does not live up to expectations, according to Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com. Garoppolo's contract is essentially structured as a three-year deal with option years in 2021 and 2022 that they can pick up if he performs well or cut him with reasonable hits to salary-cap space if he does not.

Prior to this deal, the 49ers were top-three in most salary-cap space in the NFL. After the deal, Paraag Marathe said the 49ers now have $63-$64 million in cap space, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, leaving plenty of room to sign free agents and demonstrating why the contract is not as financially debilitating as some might think.

Being the highest paid player doesn't mean much in the inflated quarterback market


Before Jimmy's contract extension, Matthew Stafford was the highest paid player in the NFL based on average annual salary, and before him, it was Derek Carr. These two quarterbacks had larger sample sizes than Garoppolo, but how many criticized or questioned their contracts then or now? What has Carr or Stafford done, besides winning regular season football games, that would justify being the highest paid player in the NFL at the time?

The reality is that the NFL quarterback market is grossly inflated, so being highest paid player as an NFL quarterback is mostly hyperbole, especially when you consider that Garoppolo won't be the highest paid player in the NFL for long. When Kirk Cousins, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson sign contract extensions, it's all but guaranteed that their haul will outshine Garoppolo's.

Wise football minds know that Jimmy Garoppolo is the real deal


Minds with deep football wisdom are clearly convinced that Jimmy Garoppolo is a future franchise quarterback and his contract is not anything outrageous for a franchise quarterback entering the prime of his career. Let's not forget that 49ers current head coach Kyle Shanahan is considered one of the most innovative football minds in the NFL, and he targeted Garoppolo as a player with significant potential since before the 2013 NFL Draft.

Bill Belichick may be the single greatest football mind of all time, and he bought into Garoppolo since drafting him and had envisioned him as Tom Brady's replacement. According to speculation surrounding Seth Wickersham's article in ESPN, Belichick's frustration with being forced to trade Garoppolo may have led to him doing the most un-Belichickian thing ever – leaking the story of Patriots inner turmoil so the public would know that a future Patriot's collapse after moving from Garopplo wasn't Belichick's fault. And why did Kraft force Belichick to trade Jimmy? Allegedly, Kraft was acting on Brady's behalf when he told Belichick that Garoppolo was not in the team's long-term future. Why would Brady do this? Because the greatest NFL quarterback of all time was threatened by Garoppolo.

Here's how Brady responded to the Patriots trading Garoppolo, according to Seth Wickersham:

"Brady, though, seemed liberated. Kraft hugged Brady when he saw him that week, in full view of teammates. A few days later during practice, some players and staffers noticed that Brady seemed especially excited, hollering and cajoling. Brady was once again the team's present and future. His new backup, Brian Hoyer, was a longtime friend and not a threat. The owner was in Brady's corner. 'He won,' a Patriots staffer says."

Former Patriots teammates, who have known the quarterback for a larger sample size than seven games, also seem to think that Garoppolo is worth the investment:


John Lynch optimizes Garoppolo's confidence and avoids a Kirk Cousins situation with this contract


Say what you want about John Lynch's NFL front office experience, he has positively turned the 49ers culture around with his "brick-by-brick" rebuild and by injecting personality into the front office. Lynch's signing of Garoppolo to a lucrative extension was another wise decision that sets the cornerstone for continued upward trajectory for the organization, growing a culture of security and confidence that seems to be in stark contrast to his predecessor's. And by not being ambivalent or nickel-and-diming Garoppolo, as Washington had done in their mishandling of Kirk Cousin's contract extensions, Lynch has created an environment of support and positivity which will allow Garoppolo the peace of mind to make the most of his talents.

Statistics aside, Jimmy Garoppolo has a priceless impact on team chemistry and culture


Looking past the quantities of small sample size, elite QBR, 7-0 record as a starter, and a franchise-record number of passing yards for a quarterback in his first five starts with the team, Jimmy Garoppolo has had an undeniable, invaluable impact on team chemistry and confidence. It's evident that his teammates are not only happy for Garoppolo, but they are also happy for themselves because Jimmy's play has made and will continue to make them all better:




By making Jimmy Garoppolo feel wanted and secure with this contract, the 49ers not only demonstrated their belief in him, but they also showed the rest of the team their willingness to do what it takes to win, further developing a burgeoning atmosphere of positivity and belief that has catalyzed high expectations for the future. And if Jimmy Garoppolo continues to live up to his potential and past performances, we will look back on this contract extension as a bargain.