Ranking possible Jimmy G trade destinations as draft nears originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
All of the 49ers’ focus right now is centered on the crop of quarterbacks atop the 2021 NFL Draft, and not the QB who led them to the Super Bowl 15 months ago.
Whether the 49ers draft Justin Fields, Mac Jones or Trey Lance, it’s clear that Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t have a long-term future with the 49ers. Garoppolo is, for now, expected to be the starter in 2021 before the 49ers pass the torch to whoever coach Kyle Shanahan hand selects to be the trigger man for his offense.
Shanahan and general manager John Lynch told the media that they plan for Garoppolo to be the starter this coming season, but made it clear that they would trade the oft-injured quarterback if they were blown away.
Recent reports have stated the 49ers are asking for a first-round pick in order to part with Garoppolo. The 49ers are unlikely to get what they are asking, as Garoppolo’s lengthy injury history and questionable level of play won’t incentivize teams to part with crucial draft capital. Plus, the 49ers know how important having QB depth is, and they won’t want to go into the 2021 season with a rookie quarterback and the collection of Nate Sudfeld, Josh Rosen and Josh Johnson behind him.
But, for the sake of argument and to have a little fun (sports are fun, remember?), here is a totally definitive and bulletproof ranking of potential trade destinations for Garoppolo as we stare at what appears to be a relatively tepid market.
No. 5: Washington Football Team
Ron Rivera and the Football Team went out and signed Ryan Fitzpatrick this offseason with plans to have the bearded magic man run the offense in the nation’s capital.
Fitzpatrick is coming off a season in which he threw for 2,091 yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions for the Miami Dolphins. He was benched halfway through the season in favor of Tua Tagovailoa.
Behind Fitzpatrick, the Football Team has Taylor Heinicke, Kyle Allen and Steven Montez. Doesn’t exactly light you on fire, does it?
We know Fitzpatrick will run hot for a month or two and then go ice cold and start giving away the football like he’s hosting a garage sale.
The Football Team also doesn’t own a high enough draft pick to select one of the draft’s top QBs, so they could be in the market for a capable starting quarterback to push Fitzpatrick in training camp.
Rivera and Co. don’t have a desperate need, but they are a team to keep an eye on after the draft.
No. 4: New York Jets
Sam Darnold is out, ditching the Broadway Sam moniker to head down to Charlotte and quarterback the Carolina Panthers.
That leaves the Jets with, we assume, No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson and *checks notes* James Morgan and Mike White. Ah.
Wilson certainly looks the part, but could Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur want to grab Garoppolo if the price comes down and let him show Wilson the ropes in their offense while rebuilding his value? It’s something to consider.
The Jets do have 12 picks in next year’s draft, including two firsts, two seconds and a third. They won’t want to give up a first to rent Garoppolo, but they might be interested in acquiring him if the price comes down.
No. 3: Denver Broncos
Now, here’s a team to keep an eye on if they don’t draft a QB in Round 1. The Broncos currently own the No. 9 pick and have Drew Lock, Jeff Driskel and Brett Rypien on the roster.
It’s pretty clear the Broncos aren’t sold that Lock is their future under center, nor should they be. It’s very likely Denver tries to move up in the draft to select either Justin Fields, Mac Jones or Trey Lance, in order to finally feel secure at the QB position.
But if they don’t, the Broncos are very likely to make a run at Garoppolo as a veteran who can come in and push Lock for the starting job in camp.
The Broncos have a solid defense and good weapons in Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, K.J. Hamler and Noah Fant. Vic Fangio and Pat Shurmur have to want another quality arm in the QB room outside of Lock, and Garoppolo could very well beat out the Missouri product and win the starting job.
No. 2: Chicago Bears
Alright, now we’re into true contenders.
Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace actually staked their job security on Andy Dalton? I don’t buy it. Garoppolo is a Chicago kid and would give the Bears the kind of competent, consistent quarterback play they’ve been looking for. Mitchell Trubisky couldn’t give it to them. Nor could Nick Foles.
We know what Dalton is, and Garoppolo is a much better option.
It’s clear that Pace and Nagy’s jobs are on the line this season, so why wouldn’t they trade a future high draft pick (maybe a Round 2 pick) for Garoppolo believing he can elevate them from the 8-8 team they were last year to 10-6. Garoppolo has limitations but I have to believe he’s at least worth two wins more than Trubisky and Foles.
No. 1: New England Patriots
Well, this was obvious.
The Patriots are one of the teams who is expected to try and trade up in the draft for a quarterback, but if they can’t pull it off, Bill Belichick surely will be ringing up John Lynch asking for him to send Garoppolo back his way.
New England re-signed Cam Newton and still has Jarrett Stidham. But we know Belichick likes Garoppolo and surely would feel more comfortable with Garoppolo piloting his new two-tight end offense with Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.
Once again, the Patriots won’t fork over a Round 1 pick for a guy with Garoppolo’s injury history. But if they want him bad enough, the 49ers might be able to get a second-round pick and perhaps Newton to serve as the backup for whoever Shanahan selects at No. 3.
Conventional wisdom says Garoppolo is under center Week 1 in Santa Clara, but it’s certainly not a guarantee.