Well, here we go again.
Jimmy Garoppolo, the presumable future-former 49ers quarterback, will likely play next season in a uniform that isn’t white, gold and red. This offseason will mark the second in a row with Garoppolo assumed to be on his way out of San Francisco.
The timing is both fortunate and unfortunate for Garoppolo. He was having his best season as 49ers passer, which works in his favor. However, he will be coming off another injury-riddled season, and the emergence of Brock Purdy and the eventual return of Trey Lance have rendered Garoppolo obsolete in San Francisco.
That means he’ll likely be a free agent, and there will be many suitors for the 31-year-old passer. Garoppolo will operate perfectly fine as a stopgap starter, but don’t expect him to elevate his game any more than what he has done in one of the best offensive systems in football.
That said, here are some spots that make the most sense for Garoppolo in 2023:
Where will Jimmy Garoppolo play in 2023?
There are more than a few options for Garoppolo entering 2023, if he wants an opportunity to start:
New York Jets
This spot is the most obvious for a few reasons. The Jets are a quarterback away from being a legit playoff threat, with a large part of their 2022 collapse due to a shoddy offense and worse quarterback play. Head coach Robert Saleh also has familiarity with Garoppolo, as he spent his 49ers years as DC with Garoppolo as the team’s QB.
It also helps that the Jets’ offensive scheme is similar to that run by Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco, meaning the learning curve wouldn’t be too steep for him.
Las Vegas Raiders
When the Raiders move on from Derek Carr, the Raiders make for a logical landing spot (if they don’t land a much bigger fish).
Garoppolo started his career on the bench behind Tom Brady and utilizing Josh McDaniels’ scheme, so there’s a certain level of comfort there. That said, moving on from Carr to sign Garoppolo seems like a lateral move at best and a step back at worst.
But we’ve kind of come to expect that from McDaniels-led teams, right?
New England Patriots
Mac Jones didn’t show much of anything in 2023. Whether that’s on Jones or the rest of the staff is up for debate, but the Patriots and Bill Belichick haven’t seemed like a team willing to sit still at quarterback in recent years. After all, that’s why they grabbed Bailey Zappe in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, after taking Jones the year prior.
If the Patriots aren’t totally comfortable heading into Year 3 of Jones, then maybe a room of Jones, Zappe and Garoppolo makes sense. It will give Belichick the long-awaited Garoppolo succession plan that he so desperately wanted during the Brady years, which would make for some good long-term storytelling.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints have cap issues to work around — what else is new? — so a Garoppolo fit might not make the most sense, depending on the contract he’d be looking for. But New Orleans has been on the lookout for a quarterback since Drew Brees retired, and the rotating door of Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston didn’t help alleviate matters this season.
Garoppolo under center with Chris Olave and Michael Thomas out wide and a traditionally strong running game (that may or may not feature Alvin Kamara) would yield similar results to what he’s working with in San Francisco, at least on paper.
Plus, “Mardi Gras Garoppolo” is fun to say — and it would maybe be more fun to see.
San Francisco 49ers
A world does exist where Garoppolo ends up back with the 49ers in 2023 in some capacity. Reports from earlier in the season indicated that both sides would be fine with a reunion for the upcoming season, but the logistics and the QB room would be a bit weird.
More questions would be asked than answered: What would be become of 2021 first-round pick Trey Lance? Does Brock Purdy slide back into the QB2 role?