Writer: Caleb Akpan
The NBA trade deadline took over sports news on Thursday, but the NFL just couldn’t let the day pass without getting in a big headline of their own. As major deals broke in basketball, the San Francisco 49ers secured their franchise player at a historical price tag, as they signed QB Jimmy Garoppolo to a five-year, $137.5 million dollar contract.
Garoppolo’s new deal will give him $27.5 million annually and a guaranteed $74 million no matter what happens. Jimmy G has come a long way from backing up Tom Brady (who he now makes $7 million more than), and getting two Super Bowl rings essentially for sitting on the bench, or at least you would think with a deal like this on the table.
In reality, Garoppolo started just five games for the Niners after he was traded, adding on to a whopping two starts in New England. That’s right, after starting just seven games in his career, the Eastern Illinois graduate has more money in his contract than future hall of famers, and will make in five years about what Brett Favre made in his entire career. A very confusing situation for most fans no doubt, but, if players are paid based off numbers and potential, the 26-year old may have gotten the deal he deserved.
First and foremost, Garoppolo’s career record when starting is 7-0. A small sample size without a doubt, but one that brought San Francisco out of the gutter last season and one that created hope for their loyal fans that another championship could be one the way sooner than later. GM John Lynch had to try his best to lock up those kinds of results, even if it’s unrealistic to think Jimmy will never lose a game.
In addition to his perfect record, the young QB posted a passer rating of 96.2 in his games with the 49ers, good for 11th amongst qualified passers. The young gun threw for seven touchdowns with his new team, while also turning the ball over five times. That doesn’t necessarily sound like highest salary ever production, but context is always important in a situation like this.
As noted, the wins have come in bunches for San Fran so far, Garoppolo is 26, and the 49ers didn’t trade for him to not try and secure a long-term deal. The 1,250 passing yards he put up in his first four starts are the most for a player in NFL history, and it should only be up from there as the quarterback continues to develop a good chemistry with is teammates. No one can deny top ten quarterbacks deserve top dollar, especially when they’re young and oozing with potential.
Of course, there’s always the chance that Garoppolo gets exposed as fool’s good next season and the Niners end up back at the top of the draft, not knowing what happened. But, those chances seem too small right now for them to care. With the numbers available, the only thing San Francisco really could’ve done was pay up, and they did that and more.
Garoppolo’s massive contract now sets the stage for quarterbacks with more experience to possibly receive even bigger paydays, namely Kirk Cousins. Just three years older than his San Francisco counterpart and with even more production, Cousins could be asking for an annual salary of $30 million…..as a starting point. Older quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, and Drew Brees are in line for new deals as well, and while they’re older, their numbers suggest they’re just as deserving of giant deals.
If any part of the Garoppolo situation can be considered certain, it’s that the NFL’s contract negotiation process is changing. Players have more power than ever to demand big money, especially those at the helm of an offense. Don’t let deals like the one made on Thursday surprise you, things should only be getting crazier from here.