The quarterback carousel is sure to spin this offseason more than it has in recent years. That’s because players like Tony Romo, Jay Cutler and Jimmy Garoppolo are likely to be made available, presenting quarterback-needy teams with several different options at the most important position in sports.
Garoppolo is a particularly interesting trade target, considering he’s the youngest one available (25) and will only make $1.1 million in 2017. The only problem is it’ll likely cost at least a first- or second-round pick to acquire him. For a handful of teams, he’s worth the price – including one franchise in the same division as the Patriots.
Here are five teams that should go after Garoppolo this offseason.
The Bills have Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, but only if they want him. They may opt to release him rather than picking up his lucrative option, making him a free agent, and putting them back on the lookout for a franchise quarterback.
If that were to happen, Bills GM Doug Whaley should get Bill Belichick on the phone and offer the 10th pick for Garoppolo. Buffalo already has a solid core of players in LeSean McCoy, Richie Incognito, Sammy Watkins and multiple playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, but they don’t have a quarterback. Garoppolo changes that for years and years to come.
The Bills have been searching for a franchise quarterback since the days of Jim Kelly, and haven’t made the playoffs since 1999 – the longest drought in American professional sports. Garoppolo may not be a lock to be a perennial All-Pro, but he’s the closest thing to a franchise quarterback the Bills will find. Not to mention, new head coach Sean McDermott may prefer a fresh start with the quarterback of his choosing.
San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Shanahan went to the 49ers with a clean slate. A new GM, plenty of cap space and the No. 2 pick in the draft. What he doesn’t have is a quarterback, which he desperately needs to run his West Coast offense. Garoppolo is perfect for that.
He has the mobility and accuracy to operate in Shanahan’s scheme and would get the new head coach’s tenure off on the right foot in San Francisco. Garoppolo doesn’t warrant the second overall pick in the draft, but the No. 34 pick and maybe a third-rounder might just be enough for Belichick.
If the 49ers do acquire Garoppolo, they’ll still have plenty of work to do. John Lynch and Shanahan need to surround him with much better playmakers than they currently have, otherwise this trade probably goes to waste – at least initially.
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The Cleveland Browns are the most obvious landing spot for Garoppolo. They have the need for a quarterback, the assets to make it happen, and the cap space to sign him long-term when he becomes a free agent in 2018. What they’ll have to decide is whether they’re better off drafting a quarterback with either the first or 12th pick, or trading the latter (probably) for Garoppolo.
If the Browns aren’t sold on Mitch Trubisky, DeShone Kizer or Deshaun Watson, Garoppolo makes a lot of sense. He could potentially be a franchise savior, and if he is, he’s worth the No. 12 pick – and then some. The major difference stands in the contract situation, considering Garoppolo will be a free agent next offseason. By spending a first-rounder on a quarterback, the Browns can have the rookie under contract for five years at a relatively low price.
It’s a debate the Browns will need to discuss this offseason, but Garoppolo might be worth the price for them -- especially with their poor history of drafting quarterbacks.
Ken BlazeKen Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
The Texans just spent $72 million ($37 million guaranteed) on Brock Osweiler last offseason, but he’s clearly not the answer at quarterback. Garoppolo just might be – and he can fit under the cap with Osweiler, too.
Garoppolo’s cap hit in 2017 will only be $1.1 million, which pales in comparison to Osweiler’s $16 million. Paying both of them $17.1 million is doable, though – especially when considering the Texans have been linked to Tony Romo, who’s a much more expensive option.
The best part is that they can rid themselves of Osweiler’s awful contract in 2018, setting them up to pay Garoppolo when he hits free agency that same offseason. It might just be the perfect match, assuming the Texans can woo New England with draft picks – or dare I say, DeAndre Hopkins, whom the Patriots tried to get for Jamie Collins.
Garoppolo is an Illinois kid. In addition to being born in the state, he played his college ball at Eastern Illinois. That would make a trade to the Bears a bit of a homecoming, which only adds to the allure for Chicago.
Jay Cutler and his $16 million cap hit are as good as gone, opening up a spot for Garoppolo at quarterback. Some would argue that Garoppolo is already a better quarterback than Cutler, who’s not only injury-prone, but also susceptible to regular turnovers.
The Bears don’t need a short-term solution like Tony Romo. They need a young quarterback they can develop into a franchise guy, which is exactly what Garoppolo is. He’s probably not worth the No. 3 pick in the draft, but if they can package their second-rounder with a few other selections, it might be enough to pry him from Bill Belichick’s grasp.