QB Jimmy Garoppolo likely to draw interest from Panthers, Raiders, Texans

Although it’s a year later than many expected, Jimmy Garoppolo’s suitcases are nearly packed for his San Francisco departure.

After six seasons with the 49ers that have been marked by success, injury and many ups and downs, Garoppolo should find a sizable following when free agency arrives on March 15.

Although the Niners have young quarterbacks Trey Lance and Brock Purdy, both on the path to injury comebacks, head coach Kyle Shanahan said emphatically in February that he “doesn’t see any scenario” in which Garoppolo would return to compound.

Thus, Jimmy G should become a free agent in the offseason after he was supposed to be sold. Garoppolo, of course, was not traded, as a shoulder injury disrupted the Nine’s best-laid plans. While Garoppolo’s presence in the roster proved to be decisive when Lance went down, he was also injured when a foot ailment ended his 2022 campaign. The hope was that Garoppolo could be available to San Francisco if he made the Super Bowl last season, so he should be good for anyone calling as a free agent.

In need of quarterbacks, the Texans (2nd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft), Raiders (7th overall), and Panthers (9th overall) could potentially choose a future quarterback and sign an experienced quarterback to bridge.

Garoppolo, 31, whose affability and presence has long been lauded by teammates and coaches, could well fill the role. Last season, Garoppolo was 7-3 as a starter with 16 touchdowns, 4 interceptions and 2,437 yards in 11 games. That’s all, but of course, his final score with the 49ers.

In Las Vegas, Garoppolo had a history with Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels. McDaniels was the New England Patriots offensive coordinator for each of Jimmy G’s three seasons with the Pats from 2014 to 2016.

Garoppolo also has ties to the Texans: former 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans has taken the reins as Houston’s head coach, and Bobby Slovik, the Niners’ assistant since 2017, has been hired as the team’s offensive coordinator.

Slovik made no secret of his interest in Garoppolo when speaking to reporters on Wednesday.

“We have a process that we’re going through,” Slovik said in a team transcript when asked if he was interested in Garoppolo. “Jimmy is obviously part of that process. He will be a free agent. We are working on this as a coaching staff. We’re working on it in HR. [general manager] Nick [Caserio]. He’s talking to DeMeco. [Ryans]. Then Nick and DeMeco got together and made a plan of what we want to do in the future and see where that takes us.”

With the arrival of Carolina head coach Frank Reich, the Panthers are likely to have another new quarterback. If the Panthers go first-round at quarterback for the first time since choosing Cam Newton in 2011, Garoppolo would likely be a good choice as a stopgap.

While the future of Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson remains uncertain at their current clubs, Garoppolo is QB’s top free agent. Garoppolo, No. 22 on Gregg Rosenthal’s top 101 free agent in the NFL, will be one of the biggest QB dominoes this offseason after Derek Carr signed with the New Orleans Saints.

The Panthers, Raiders and Texans have to say where Jimmy G’s next stop will be.


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