Apparently San Francisco general manager John Lynch believes Jimmy Garoppolo’s having quarterbacked five winning games in 2017 is worth a lot of money. The 49ers agreed to a five-year, $137.5 million deal with the former New England signal caller on Thursday, making him the highest paid player in the NFL.
The 26-year-old Eastern Illinois alum came to the 49ers from the New England Patriots, who traded Tom Brady’s backup on Nov. 1 for a second-round draft pick. Garoppolo saw his first start for San Francisco on Dec. 3 against the Chicago Bears, with his new team going into that game with a dismal 1-10 record.
Garoppolo led the team to a 15-14 win at Soldier Field, and from there the winning didn’t stop. He’d finish the season with five consecutive victories, including a 34-13 season-finale drubbing of the playoff-bound Los Angeles Rams.
Bay Area Excitement
The last month of the season gave long-suffering 49ers fans new optimism. Garoppolo had won more games in a month than they had amassed in a season and a half.
He also revitalized his new teammates. Left tackle Joe Staley told SiriusXM NFL Radio after the season that he is definitely a leader.
“Jimmy really gave us that spark at the end of the year,” he said. “Everybody’s confidence level in him rose as the season went on. Their play rose as well.”
Sportsbooks believe in the new signal caller, too. Last season, San Francisco opened at 300/1 odds to win the Super Bowl at BetOnline (tied for dead last with the Cleveland Browns), but the online bookmaker has the team at just 20/1 for winning the 2019 Super Bowl.
When it became clear Garoppolo was available, Lynch and 49ers offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan wasted no time trying to hash out a deal.
“Jimmy is a player we have researched extensively since Kyle and I joined the 49ers,” Lynch said in November. “I am extremely pleased this came together today and we all think it is a big win for our organization.”
Lynch knew he had an unrestricted free agent and was going to have to pay him, something he was all too eager to do. The $137.5 million contract is the highest for any NFL player, surpassing the $137 million Detroit Lions quarterback Matt Stafford’s locked up last year.
Former 49er Hall of Fame QB and now television analyst Steve Young said Garoppolo should get good money. He was participating in the PGA Tour’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am when he told the San Jose Mercury News that the deal makes sense.
“Tremendously good news, and if I had $137 million, I would have given it to him,” Young said. “At this point, with guys you think can go win championships, you’ve got to get them locked up and pay the market (rate), that’s how it works.”
Garoppolo might not be the highest paid player for long, however, as a slew of star quarterbacks and valuable veterans will be negotiating for new contracts during the offseason.
Drew Brees of New Orleans, Case Keenum of Minnesota, Kirk Cousins of Washington, and Sam Bradford of Minnesota are all free agents. Brees and Keenum are probably staying with the current team and getting a hefty raise. Cousins and Bradford will more likely be testing the market and demanding similarly large guaranteed payouts.