Where will Jimmy Garoppolo play in 2022 season? Six best fits, landing spots for 49ers QB
Jimmy Garoppolo is one of the most underappreciated quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s also one of the league’s most overpaid quarterbacks.
Garoppolo remained the starter in the 2021 season over rookie No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance in the 49ers’ return to the playoffs. Garoppolo has rebounded well from a 2020 season lost to injury to build on helping lead San Francisco to Super Bowl 54 two years ago.
But with Lance’s youthful first-round pedigree looming next season, the 49ers have a decision to make with Garoppolo. Either they keep him as a contingency for Lance on the final year of his contract and take a $26.4 million salary cap hit, or they trade or release him for $25.5 in cap relief.
Although going with the latter path seems like a no-brainer, the 49ers might feel like Lance, only 21, needs a another of backup seasoning before starting full-time. At the same time, there will be several QB-needy teams willing to make a reasonable deal for Garoppolo, so lean toward him leaving San Francisco.
Here’s taking an early look at Garoppolo’s best fits in the 2022 offseason:
Ranking Jimmy Garoppolo’s landing spots
1. New Orleans Saints
Kyle Shanahan, Garoppolo’s coach in San Francisco, has an offense that’s quasi-related to what Sean Payton operates for the Saints. Taysom Hill will be 32 in August and there’s no certainty about either him or Jameis Winston holding down the job, with the added concern of durability issues for both. The Saints will consider QB iin the 2022 draft but as they pick first late (No. 18 overall), a veteran route might be better as they can win big again now if they upgrade the passing game, given their running and defensive strengths.
The Saints sitll need to figure out more cap issues, but a savvy system QB such as Garoppolo would be nice, allowing them to use a first-rounder on a needed new No. 1 wide receiver. He would be quick study for Patyon after clicking with Shanahan and also Josh McDaniels in New England.
2. Denver Broncos
Unlike the Saints, Broncos are in the process of finding a new coach and a new offensive scheme, but they won’t be going into next season with a combination of Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock as their best option again. Denver is a another team loaded with talent and can support Garoppolo with a good offensive line, strong running game with Javonte Williams and a pleasing mix of wide receivers and tight ends.
The Broncos with the No. 9 overall pick, are better positioned than the Saints in the first round to get their QB target of choice. For free agency, their cap space is also very favorable and could take on Garoppolo short term at market value without problem. Denver has a tough decision to make on the how and who, but Garoppolo should get some consideration among the possible solutions.
3. Washington Football Team
Washington is better position for a top QB in the draft than New Orleans, picking No. 11 and two spots after Denver. Taylor Heinicke flashed while Washington’s bridge plans were washed away with Ryan Fitzpatrick’s hip injury. But in between a veteran journeyman and a limited youngster, the stability of Garoppolo, who turns only 31 in November, should have immediate intermediate appeal for Ron Rivera and Scott Turner.
New Orleans, Denver and Washington all proved they weren’t too far away from a playoff spot, with quarterback holding them back. They are ranked here, but they are all pretty solid, even options for Garoppolo post San Francisco.
4. Houston Texans
The Texans, with former Patriots personnel man Nick Caserio as their GM, is the one bottom-feeding team to watch for Garoppolo, the former Patriots backup to Tom Brady. Rookie third-round Davis Mills flashed enough to get a longer look as a potential long-term replacement for Deshaun Watson in Year 2, but the Texans would be smart to create some veteran competition with a solid contingency.
Houston seems 50-50 on whether using the No. 3 overall pick (its only first-r0ounder) on a QB is a worthy investment, given pass rusher or offensive lineman mesh better with the best available. Caserio should be intrigued in Garoppolo being a competent experienced bridge. Garoppolo should see an adjusted contract in that case and the Texans can create enough cap relief by dumping some pricey incumbent veterans, led by fading left tackle Laremy Tunsil.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
Garoppolo won’t be playing in Canada in 2022. but he might be playing for Canada — Matt, the Steelers’ offensive coordinator. Pittsburgh, for now, picks No. 20 as an AFC playoff team, at which point, barring a tradeup, up to four QB targets may off the board. The Steelers are ready to win bigger now with Mike Tomlin, too, with obvious upgrades coming for the offensive line and run defense coming in the offesason.They are sitting on more than $41 million in cap space.
The Steelers could hope for another rookie who can help them win a lot of games like Roethlisberger did in 2004. Or can also think about how far Garoppolo can take a team that has solid pieces overall elsewhere, a la he did the 49ers in 2019.
6. New York Jets
Let’s mention here first teams that don’t make sense. The Vikings and Colts already have their expensive veteran situations. The Panthers and the Lions are better off sticking with their current bridges, assuming both will target QBs in the first round. The Browns should stick with re-signing Baker Mayfield over giving up something for Garoppolo. The Bears, Garoppolo’s “hometown” team, will be all in on Justin Fields in Year 2.
So why the Jets, with soon to be second-year first-round QB Zach Wilson? Between Mike White, Joe Flacco and Josh Johnson, they had a carousel of backups for offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. Garoppolo knows the system well, as LaFleur was Shanahan’s passing game coordinator in San Francisco, working with Garoppolo from 2017 to 2020, in addition to coach Robert Saleh being the 49ers former defensive coordinator.
The big questions come are whether Garoppolo would accept a Ryan Tannehill Tennessee-like wait-and-see situation and whether the Jets, even with their ample projected cap space, can find a contract that works for a Wilson contingency. But there’s no denying it’s a great fit and one that can’t be ruled out.