SANTA CLARA — Yes, the 49ers really are going to let others steal the NFL’s quarterback bazaar.
They are positioned to be just a bargain, even after running out of healthy quarterbacks last season when the Lombardi Trophy drought reached 28 years.
His hopes are on comebacks for Trey Lance (broken foot last season) and Brock Purdy (surgery elbow this Friday), a combination that accounts for just $10.2 million of the $237.5 million cap. of the 49ers next season.
They will undoubtedly bring in other quarterbacks through free agency and the draft.
Just don’t expect an A-lister.
These guys are either committed, overpriced, or not interested in a relationship right now. For example:
Aaron Rogers: The New York Jets invaded California airspace Tuesday to court Aaron Rodgers. Two years ago, the 49ers made a play for the Chico native (and his 2005 NFL Draft rejection), but the Packers weren’t as keen on sending him to an NFC rival. The 49ers have neither the assets to pass out the Packers in a trade nor the $60 million needed this year for a quarterback they are trailing 4-0 in the playoffs.
Tom Brady: Could he be lured out of retirement for the second year in a row? “Anyone who thinks I have time to get back into the NFL has never adopted a 2-month-old kitten for their daughter,” Brady tweeted Tuesday. This comes after NFL Network’s Rich Eisen released a rumor that Brady may not be done at age 45 and in the No. 7 ring. If Purdy’s surgery turns into a full reconstruction and year-long recovery, and if the Lance’s foot has a setback, perhaps this could tempt Brady (with a salary in the millions that matches his age).
Lamar Jackson: The Ravens assigned the non-exclusive franchise tag to the 2019 NFL MVP, meaning it would take two first-round picks to ward him off with a ridiculous bid that Baltimore is unwilling to watch. (Odds are, the Ravens will match any offer.) Since the 49ers don’t have a first-round pick next month, they would have to wait until after the draft to make their presentation with the 2024 and 2025 picks in hand. Jackson, meanwhile, can wait to re-sign to the brand or a higher fee once the market rises further with summer extensions for Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert.
Derek Carr: He got $100 million guaranteed after the Raiders took his spot at the Las Vegas poker table. Carr took the money from the New Orleans Saints on Monday to immediately become the best quarterback in the NFC South, without a playoff win to his name, mind you. The Fresno State product kickstarted the NFL’s QB spending spree.
Geno Smith: The 49ers certainly wouldn’t pay him $35 million a year, not after beating him three times last season. Still, Seattle gladly retained Smith after he clinched a playoff berth by replacing franchise icon Russell Wilson.
Daniel Jones: A 3,200-yard passer and a 708-yard rusher? Looks like the dual production the 49ers sought in Lance. But they’ll let the New York Giants pay $40 million annually for Jones — after four years with 60 touchdown passes, 34 interceptions and 42 fumbles.
Filipe Rios: Wait, who? Eisen also mentioned on his podcast that he heard last week that Rivers had offered his services to the 49ers and Miami Dolphins for their playoffs that lacked healthier (and younger) options. Rivers, 41, disputed that, telling AL.com, “I haven’t contacted anyone and I’m not going anywhere. I think maybe some teams, with some guys going down, might just be looking for a contingency plan, but nothing came of it. … I think it’s done.
Jimmy Garoppolo: He’ll be the No. 1 quarterback available in free agency, assuming Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch stand firm on their stance that Jimmy G feels lost, baby. Shoulder surgery last March kept Garoppolo around, for everyone’s benefit, but he’s taken a pay cut with a no-tag clause allowing his freedom. Thus, a fractured foot on December 4 ended one of the most successful tenures by a 49ers quarterback.
Next best options: Matt Ryan (Colts, if released), Marcus Mariota (Falcons), Baker Mayfield (Rams), Andy Dalton (Saints), Carson Wentz (Commanders), Sam Darnold (Panthers), Jacoby Brissett (Browns), Taylor Heinicke (Commanders) , Teddy Bridgewater (Dolphins), Nick Mullens (Vikings), Nate Sudfeld (Lions), Mike White (Jets), Joe Flacco (Jets), Drew Lock (Seahawks), Case Keenum (Bills), Jameis Winston (Saints, if released ).
“Turns out there are two young men that we really like,” Lynch said on Feb. 1 of moving forward with Purdy and Lance.
“We’re happy enough,” Shanahan added at the season-ending press conference.
Content does not equate to “ecstatic” nor, in this case, to “desperate”.
Desperation drove them to Garoppolo in an October 30, 2017 trade with New England. And he landed Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft, on a layaway plan that includes his first-round pick in next month’s draft.
No matter how desperate they might seem again, a lot of money is invested in a supporting cast loaded with superstars, and a lot of draft picks have been spent on deals for Lance and Christian McCaffrey.
Kirk Cousins is not going to walk through that door. Right?
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