John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Florio predicts the 49ers will release Jimmy Garoppolo rather than trade or keep the QB

Feb 16, 2021 at 10:09 AM--

What will the San Francisco 49ers do with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo? The simple answer is that the team will retain his services, should a perceived upgrade not present itself. If a perceived upgrade is acquired, then the team will likely try to shop the quarterback.

"Most presume he'll be traded," wrote Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk on Tuesday. "But here's the question: If the 49ers don't want to keep Garoppolo at the balance of his current contract, who would trade for the thing?"

The New England Patriots would likely welcome back Garoppolo with open arms — for the right price. They have the cap space to absorb his salary. Garoppolo, after all, was supposed to be the eventual successor to Tom Brady, and most assume Bill Belichick still thinks highly of the quarterback he was reportedly forced to trade away in 2017.

Garoppolo, who has a no-trade clause for this year in his contract, might approve a reunion with Belichick. And the Patriots will be looking at quarterback options this offseason. Why not add someone who is very familiar with what you already have in place?

Garoppolo has had a problem staying healthy since arriving in Santa Clara. He has missed 23 games over the past three seasons. When healthy, though, he has been a winner. Garoppolo is 24-9 (including playoffs) as the 49ers' starter and helped guide the team to a Super Bowl appearance just a year ago.

Florio doesn't predict a trade in Garoppolo's future, though. Instead, he envisions the quarterback, and his $25 million salary for the upcoming season, will be released, not traded away.

"So here's my prediction: the 49ers won't eventually roll the dice with Garoppolo again, not at his current contract," commented Florio. "And since they won't be able to trade the contract, they'll eventually cut Garoppolo — taking a cap charge of only $2.8 million."

Of course, that is assuming no team is interested in trading for Garoppolo at any price. The prediction assumes not even Belichick would want to make a deal to assure Garoppolo ends up on his roster and not on another team. Maybe that will be the case.

It also assumes that San Francisco replaces Garoppolo, which may not actually happen. There remains a good chance that the 49ers roll with their current quarterback in 2021, even if they draft a successor. Of course, that will make it tougher to lock up other key players like impending free-agent tackle Trent Williams or sign All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner to an extension.

"Maybe I'll be wrong about this," added Florio. "It wouldn't be the first time. But it definitely would be wrong for the 49ers to cast their lot again with a guy who has missed a lot of games — especially at $25.5 million."

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