49ers expected commanders to trade for Jimmy Garoppolo; Browns interested in FA deal

Compared to the off-seasons prior to the 2020s, this decade has brought more movement among experienced quarterbacks. While the 49ers are now thankful that their efforts to be a part of this year’s action-packed QB carousel have failed, as Trey Lance is out for the season, they expected Jimmy Garoppolo to get somewhere else.

John Lynch has said he spoke to multiple teams at the Combine about moving the old San Francisco QB1. One of those seems to be the commanders. During the early part of Garoppolo’s complex year, before his shoulder surgery, the 49ers believed the commanders would be the team that traded for the ninth-year passerby, according to ESPN.com’s Tim Keown and Nick Wagoner.

Of Ron Rivera indicating that the Commanders were chasing several experienced QBs this off-season – one with a three-first-rounder offer for Russell Wilson – it’s pretty obvious that Garoppolo was on the team’s radar. But the shoulder surgery in March – a procedure Garoppolo’s camp thought it could avoid – changed everything, leading to a months-long market stalemate.

Teams were concerned about Garoppolo’s timetable and his willingness to accept a pay cut, notes Jeff Howe of The Athletic (subscription required). Barely a week after it became known that Garoppolo would undergo shoulder surgery, Washington went ahead with Carson Wentzacquiring the former No. 2 overall pick for two day 2 draft picks and a second round pick swap for 2022.

Such loot would have been a valuable coup for the 49ers, who stared at the prospect of releasing Garoppolo. But the 49ers’ Super Bowl hopes again depend on their injury-chased starter remaining available. Garoppolo’s ACL tear in 2018 didn’t seem to derail a Super Bowl threat, but his ankle condition in 2020 certainly hurt one. The 30-year-old passer’s three injuries last season (calf, thumb, shoulder) limited him on points, with the latter two issues plaguing him in the playoffs.

It was in the middle of training camp, [Kyle Shanahan] just called me one day and threw the idea away, and it wasn’t even on my radar until he said something about itGaroppolo said via SI.com’s Albert Breer about the team’s offer to bring him back for a restructured deal. “And then he explained a little bit and clearly the restructuring is what it is, I think it just had to be done with the situation. I know it sounds weird, but honestly things just fell into place. It wasn’t like I was going to make this happen or anything.

… I mean, honestly, at one point I didn’t think I was going to be a Niner. I was pretty determined to go to a few different teams that I had in mind. And then suddenly everything changed at the last minute.”

Lynch initially approached Shanahan to return to Garoppolo, according to ESPN, but the sixth-year HC did not expect Garoppolo to accept a backup role or a restructuring that cut his salary. Garoppolo would earn $24.2 million in base salary; that number has dropped to $6.5MM. But the stimulus package that could move the deal to $15.45 million has already started paying off. Garoppolo receives $250K for every game in which he takes at least 25% of the offensive snaps. Any game in which that threshold is met and the 49ers win will bring in another $100K.

If the restructuring hadn’t happened and a Garoppolo release had happened, ESPN adds that the Browns were willing to investigate a free agency addition. Conflicting reports emerged regarding Cleveland’s interest in adding Garoppolo as a better Deshaun Watson fill option, with the five-game add-on for the new Browns starter suspension fueling these rumors. Although the 49ers allowed other teams to negotiate a revised deal with Garoppolo, the Browns joined the rest of the NFL for being unwilling to part with assets for him. The Rams were interested in a possible deal with Garoppolo. the Seahawks were also believed to be interested in such an agreement. Instead, Garoppolo re-emerged to lead the 49ers to a one-sided victory over Seattle.

Jacoby Brissett will be asked to complete the 11-game bridge to Watson while Wentz is still working on the Eagles extension he signed in 2019. The commanders have signed him until 2024, although there is no guaranteed money on the deal after this season. Garoppolo is on track for free agency in 2023.

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