The San Francisco 49ers lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship game last Sunday, 20-17. The 49ers had the lead going into the fourth quarter but could not hold it. Then, they had one final drive to try and get in field goal range to tie it, but Jimmy Garoppolo threw an interception that sealed the game for the Rams and, more than likely, his time in San Francisco.
The Niners moved up in the 2021 NFL Draft and paid a heavy price to do so. They moved up from the 12th spot to the third with their trade with the Miami Dolphins. They traded two first-round picks and a third-round pick and took Trey Lance. Lance, in turn, spent significant time on the field in 2021, and there is no doubt he will be the starter in 2022.
So where does that leave Jimmy G? A few teams need a quarterback, and Garoppolo is not flashy, but he can and does win some games. So let’s look and see the best fits for his eventual destination.
Ben Roethlisberger retired at the end of the season, leaving the Steelers with Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins as their quarterbacks. By acquiring Garoppolo, Pittsburgh could re-emerge as a contender in the AFC Central, which promises to be amongst the toughest divisions in the NFL.
The Steelers offense has playmakers in Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Najee Harris, and Pat Freiermuth. Not to mention their defense, which has T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward. This past season, the five-time Super Bowl champions made the playoffs and lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card Round.
Garoppolo is not a great quarterback, but he has won some games when he is healthy. Most notably, he led the 49ers to a Super Bowl and took them to the NFC Championship game this season.
The Broncos are another team that could benefit from acquiring Garoppolo. They finished 6-10, and currently, they have Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock as their quarterbacks. In addition, they have not made the playoffs since Peyton Manning led them to their third Super Bowl championship. Therefore, an upgrade at quarterback is needed.
Denver just hired former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to be their head coach. Since the 2021 NFL Draft, there have been rumors that the Broncos were interested in Aaron Rodgers. That move could be a possibility, but it will cost them dearly.
They could make a deal for Garoppolo, the price for which would be far less than a move for Rodgers would. He would bring the Broncos a veteran quarterback who has won some games and been to a Super Bowl. In addition, he would have a strong running game with Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon III, as well as outstanding pass-catchers in Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeaudy, and tight end Noah Fant. The team would still be behind the Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, and the Las Vegas Raiders in the AFC West, but having Garoppolo at quarterback would give Denver a chance in the division, considering their high-quality defense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers lost to the NFC Champions Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round 30-27. Tom Brady announced his retirement on Tuesday, leaving the Bucs with Kyle Trask and Blaine Gabbert on the roster to make matters worse. The Bucs will now have to decide their next step at the most crucial position.
When New England drafted Garoppolo, he was supposed to be the successor to Brady. However, Brady had other ideas and led the Patriots to two more Super Bowl Championships. Because of this, Bill Belichick had to trade him away or risk losing him in free agency and not get anything in return.
With Brady now retired, wouldn’t it be something if Garoppolo succeeded him, though in Tampa and not Foxborough? He would give the Buccaneers a veteran presence and have some good offensive weapons in Mike Evans, Chris Godley, Rob Gronkowski, and Leonard Fournette. Moreover, with Sean Payton leaving the New Orleans Saints and with the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers struggling or rebuilding, the Buccaneers with Garoppolo would still be the favorites in the NFC South.
The Commanders finished this season 7-10 and third in the NFC East after winning the division in 2020. Initially, they signed free-agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to be the starting quarterback. However, he was lost with a hip injury he sustained in Week One and exited for the remainder of the season. Taylor Heinicke would then take over, to no positive outcome.
Garoppolo could come in and immediately help the Commanders contend for the division and a playoff spot. They have an offense with playmakers in Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin, and Logan Thomas. The Dallas Cowboys, who won the NFC East this season, would still be favored to win the division even if the Commanders were to acquire him. However, he did lead the 49ers to a 23-17 win over the Cowboys at Jerry World in the Wild Card round.
One last team that could be in the Garoppolo sweepstakes, albeit unlikely, is the Houston Texans. The Texans finished 4-13 and need to add playmakers. The Deshaun Watson situation remains unsolved, but he will not be back with the team. The Texans drafted Davis Mills in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft and played well at times but also primary performed woefully.
Furthermore, Houston will not contend for a playoff spot in 2022, but getting better at quarterback would tremendously help their rebuild. Also, if they were to trade Watson, that would give them a few valuable draft picks to help as well.
If the Texans won four games with the rookie Mills, you would think a veteran like Garoppolo could help them win a few more. But, unfortunately, the Texans are not expected to make a move for him since they are not anywhere near a playoff team. Yet, it could be possible considering his connection to general manager Nick Caserio from their time with the Patriots. However, they have indicated that staying with Mills and rebuilding with him as the starter will be their plan this upcoming offseason.
Garoppolo will help a team that needs a proven quarterback to win games. He is not great, but he is good enough and, in the right situation, could lead a team back to a Super Bowl.
main image credit