In any business negotiation, the best advantage comes from a firm and credible insistence that the team doesn’t really want to trade the player. The 49ers, after ascending to No. 3 in the 2021 draft with the clear goal of acquiring a new quarterback, must now firmly and credibly insist that they do not want to trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
The ruse has already begun, with the 49ers spreading the word to various journalists that “Jimmy is our man,” although he clearly isn’t.
Really, why would the 49ers trade three first-round picks and one third-round pick for a chance to select the future quarterback if Garoppolo is still their present quarterback? If Garoppolo is the boy now, he will be the boy later. If it isn’t the boy later, then it shouldn’t be the boy now.
But to get the most out of Garoppolo in the trade, the 49ers must convince everyone (or at least one other team) that they will stick with him. Like the Vikings when they “didn’t intend” to trade Percy Harvin or the Cardinals when Josh Rosen was “our man” or when the Giants didn’t pay Odell Beckham Jr. to trade him.
Nothing is stopping the 49ers from sticking with Garoppolo and paying him the $ 25 million he must earn this year. However, it would be stupid to do so. Nothing is stopping another team from trading for Garoppolo’s contract and paying him $ 25 million this year. However, it would be stupid to do so.
The 49ers could keep Garoppolo on a drastically reduced salary. They could also redeem it, at a reduced salary.
With no guaranteed money for April 1 and no roster bonuses expiring in the offseason and no other trigger forcing the 49ers to move quickly, time is on the 49ers’ side. Like the Raiders with tackle Trent Brown, the 49ers can tell Garoppolo and any interested team that they will stick with Garoppolo and cut him later. If another team wants him now, a deal can be made that would include compensation for the 49ers, a reduced salary for Garoppolo, and (very possibly) a deal to scrap the last season of his contract in 2022 and make Garoppolo free. agent after the season.
Regardless, multiple past examples show us that the messages sent by the 49ers about their alleged desire to stay with Garoppolo are not to be believed. Every team wants to get value for every asset it has. An exchange is always preferred to a total release. Anything they get for Garoppolo is better than nothing they would get by cutting him.
Bottom line? No one is paying Garoppolo $ 25 million this year. The only question is whether it takes less to stay in San Francisco, whether it takes less to facilitate an exchange, or whether it eventually cuts out.