The revolving door of NFL quarterbacks has just about stopped spinning for this offseason. It’s been a particularly ridiculous spring and summer, with multiple, major trades to establish new starting quarterbacks around the league.
The latest, and perhaps penultimate move, came Wednesday, when the Carolina Panthers traded a conditional fifth-round pick for Baker Mayfield, putting the former No. 1 overall pick in the same room as Sam Darnold, the former No. 3 overall pick from the same 2018 NFL Draft.
That just leaves… James Richard Garoppolo.
When this offseason began, it was widely expected that Garoppolo would be traded. The 49ers expected him to be moved by now, but blamed Garoppolo’s decision and timing of surgery for putting a halt on those talks.
But with Mayfield out of Cleveland and Deshaun Watson’s legal situation murky, could the Browns be a destination for Garoppolo?
NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco thinks Garoppolo could be moved, depending on how the Watson situation plays out.
“If the NFL suspends Deshaun Watson for a good chunk of this season, and certainly if they suspend him for the whole year, I don’t see the Browns going into this season with Jacoby Brissett as the starter, or at least they’re going to need somebody else,” Maiocco said. “And that’s where Garoppolo comes in.”
The remaining questions would revolve around whether the Browns buy that the 49ers would hold onto Garoppolo, and how much money the 49es would be willing to pay on Garoppolo’s contract, given that his deal is not guaranteed.
Maiocco thinks the situations with Watson and Garoppolo will be resolved before training camp starts on July 26.
“Then the question becomes, you know, this is a different situation than Baker Mayfield because Baker Mayfield’s contract was fully guaranteed,” Maiocco continued. “And so the Browns were in a situation where they paid a lot of the freight and so the Panthers kind of get Baker Mayfield on the cheap, but it’s a win-win-win all the way around for all three sides.
“Now with Garoppolo his $24.2 million salary is not fully guaranteed. It’s not guaranteed at all. And so if the 49ers can’t find a trade partner, or the Browns are saying, why would we trade for him, we know you’re gonna release him anyway? You can’t have a backup quarterback make it that much. Then it becomes a game of chicken.
“We’ll see where it goes from there. But I guess it’s possible that the 49ers would pay some of that. Any amount less than $24.2 million, that’s savings on the salary cap that they can use for Deebo Samuel, Nick Bosa and whomever else. So it’s interesting to say the least. And just a couple of weeks ago Kyle Shanahan said he still expects Jimmy Garoppolo to be traded before the start of the season. And I just wonder if when he said it was wishful thinking or if he had a pretty good idea that once Garoppolo gets cleared medically from the shoulder surgery, and once the Browns have clarity on what the situation is with Deshaun Watson, will something be in the works or has something been talked about already? So all that should be settled I would think in the coming weeks and and certainly before the 49ers report to training camp on July 26.
“With the Cleveland Browns, that is a good roster. That is a very good roster that is set up to win right now,” Maiocco said. “And who would you rather have: Jacoby Brissett as your starting quarterback or Jimmy Garoppolo? I guess we could debate that, but I would go with Jimmy Garoppolo and now it’s a matter of just kind of seeing how the pieces fit and how the sides can come together and work something out.”
Listen to the full interview below. You can listen to every KNBR interview on our podcast page at knbr.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Catch Murph & Mac weekdays from 6 a.m. – 10 a.m. on KNBR 104.5 / 680 and streaming live on KNBR.com.