The potential landing spots for a Jimmy Garoppolo trade are dwindling, leading to the speculation that the San Francisco 49ers might be forced to cut the quarterback to move on.
However, general manager John Lynch said Monday from the NFL's Annual League Meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, that he doesn't plan to release Jimmy G outright.
"I don't foresee that," Lynch said, via ESPN. "He's too good a player. I think Jimmy will be playing for us or will be playing for someone else. He's too good of a player not to be."
Following the Niners' playoff exit, the presumption was San Francisco would trade Garoppolo to a QB-needy club and move forward with first-round pick Trey Lance as its quarterback.
Since then, Garoppolo underwent shoulder surgery that will keep him from throwing until close to training camp. That helped slow his market early in the process, and since then, many openings have been filled.
Tom Brady unretired and returned to Tampa. Denver traded for Russell Wilson. Pittsburgh signed Mitchell Trubisky. Carson Wentz was shipped from Indianapolis to Washington. Houston traded Deshaun Watson to Cleveland. Matt Ryan went from Atlanta to Indy. Atlanta signed Marcus Mariota. New Orleans re-upped with Jameis Winston. Carolina is already paying Sam Darnold $18 million.
There aren't many openings where Jimmy G would be a clear upgrade. The biggest hole is in Seattle, but would the Niners trade within the division, and do the Seahawks view him as a significant improvement at the position?
Lynch denied reports that his team got an offer of two second-round picks for Garoppolo, noting that talks with suitors never reached the offer stage.
"I think, ultimately, the teams that we were closest with, the surgery gave them pause, and they ended up going in other directions," Lynch said.
So, if he's not going to cut Garoppolo and a trade doesn't materialize soon, Lynch basically has two options: 1) keep the QB at the $25.5 million salary -- with the possibility that an injury closer to the season could open the door to a contending team scrambling for a QB; or 2) rework his current deal to keep him on the club at a lesser figure.
Lynch said the team budgeted for Garoppolo's $26.95 million cap hit this season, so he doesn't need to move the QB or adjust the contract to make the numbers work.
The GM strenuously asserted his club could not only keep Jimmy G next season but keep him at his current salary.
"We value strength at that position," Lynch said. "To be completely forthright, though, when you make a trade of that magnitude (for Lance), most of our options did not include Jimmy on our books. On our team. But you always have to adapt and a series of events happened that it didn't work out. But that's not a bad thing, though. We feel positive with it. And we'll make it work."
The dynamics in San Francisco would be interesting if the Niners hang onto Garoppolo, particularly at his inflated salary. It could undercut any process Lance was set to make as the alpha and clear starter. Or it could build competition for the young QB while providing the coaching staff a fallback option it trusts.