Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

PFF lists Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract as 49ers’ worst, Jason Verrett’s as the best

Jun 17, 2021 at 6:29 AM--

Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus examined the NFC and named each team's best and worst contracts. He only looked at veteran contracts because, obviously, rookie deals offer great value.

What makes a good contract? Value compared to production. It can't take up a lot of a team's salary cap, regardless of the position. However, you have to compare the contract to others who play the same position.

"If an elite quarterback was making $30 million per year, with where the market is at this point at quarterback, that's great value relative to the position market," wrote Spielberger.

So, which players are listed for the San Francisco 49ers? The best contract title goes to cornerback Jason Verrett, who re-signed in March on a one-year, $5.5 million deal with $4.5 million guaranteed. The oft-injured corner played relatively injury-free last season and was one of the team's best defenders.

"Verrett played a career-high 803 snaps in 2020 and allowed a passer rating of just 76.3 as the NFL continues to throw the ball more and more," wrote Spielberger. "Because of Verrett's extensive injury history, his market is capped a bit, but this deal still represents a great value even after factoring that risk into the cost equation.

"Verrett finished top-25 among all cornerbacks with at least 100 snaps in both overall grade (76.7, 19th) and coverage grade (75.2, 25th). Now, coming off a fully healthy season for the first time in a long time, there's reason to believe he may only take his game up another notch. If he does, this contract will be a steal."

Then you have the worst contract. That belongs to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. While Verrett's salary represents just 2.7 percent of this year's salary cap, Garoppolo's is 13.5 percent, per The total potential value of the contract signed after the 2017 season is $137.5 million over five years. Garoppolo will have earned $110.2 million of that by the end of the 2021 season.

The good thing for San Francisco is that nothing more is guaranteed, and the deal is year-to-year. That means the 49ers can part ways with Garoppolo without much of an impact when it comes to dead money. That left San Francisco free to plan for the future and draft Garoppolo's eventual successor in Trey Lance.

The 49ers plan to hold onto Garoppolo for the upcoming season, giving the rookie the extra time to sit and learn without the pressure of being thrown into games too early. There haven't been any reports of the team asking its veteran quarterback to restructure his deal, but Spielberger believes that could still happen.

"Following the blockbuster trade of the 2021 Draft," wrote Spielberger, "with San Francisco moving all the way up to the No. 3 overall pick from the No. 12 slot, it's surprising to many capologists that Garoppolo hasn't been approached for a pay cut.

"The casual fan may look at San Francisco's $17.75 million in 2021 cap space — eighth-most in the NFL — and think the 49ers don't 'need' to reduce Garoppolo's salary. That doesn't mean they won't, and the odds are that conversation is still looming this offseason if it hasn't already begun behind closed doors."

The NFL has set the salary cap ceiling for 2022 at $208.2 million, which, if reached, would represent a 14 percent increase over this season's $182.5 million cap limit. The 49ers can carry over any money saved this season into next year's cap. The team can use that in the contract extension for a certain star linebacker.

"Of course, San Francisco is aware of all of this," Spielberger added, "and they're also likely in the middle of negotiations with star Fred Warner, who will likely become one of the league's highest-paid off-ball linebackers."

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