Jimmy Garoppolo landing spots: Buc’s intriguing option after Brady as 49ers see no scenario, QB returns

Jimmy Garoppolo’s time with the San Francisco 49ers appears to be over. With the quarterback set to hit free agency this offseason, Garoppolo will likely be looking for an opportunity somewhere in the NFL that will give him a chance to start in 2023. That just isn’t possible at the Niners as the club is still trying to see what they have in store for 2021 No. 3 overall Trey Lance – who is recovering from a season-ending ankle injury – and rookie sensation from the seventh round, Brock Purdy.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday during his team’s year-end press conference that the organization is pleased that Lance and Purdy are the top two options for the quarterback going to training camp next year. When asked about Garoppolo, Shanahan said he sees “no scenario” for his return.

So that leaves us with the question of what’s next for Garoppolo. Health has been the biggest bump in his career, but when he’s been on the field he’s helped his teams win and owned a 44-19 record as a starter (playoffs included). Before Garoppolo went down with a foot injury this season, the Niners won seven of their ten games, starting under center and completing 67.2% of his passes with a 103.0 passer rating.

That just goes a long way to emphasizing that Garoppolo should be a sought-after quarterback, especially if he gets a clean bill of health. As we explore the NFL landscape, here are some intriguing landing spots for the 31-year-old signal caller.

That would be poetic, wouldn’t it? Garoppolo was drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft to replace Tom Brady. Now that Brady has officially retired from the NFL, it would be an odd twist of fate to see Garoppolo ultimately fulfill that fate, but for the Buccaneers. Really, adding Garoppolo to Tampa Bay depends on which direction the franchise wants to go. Does it feel like a capable quarterback away from continued success in the NFC South? If so, then Garoppolo could be an ideal destination. If the Bucs are looking to tear things down to the studs and rebuild the post-Brady organization from the ground up, they might want to look elsewhere, and that might be a situation Garoppolo doesn’t want to sign up for.

If they stop, jumping into a situation with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin wouldn’t be a bad landing spot for Garoppolo. That’s especially true considering the passing weapons he would play with and rank in the worst division in football last year. If things stay the same in that regard in 2023, he might have an easier path into the postseason.

Brady’s departure from the Buccaneers seemed inevitable at the end of this season, but we didn’t know if the quarterback would continue playing or quit. If he decided to stay in the NFL a little longer, the Las Vegas Raiders were a popular target to place him due to his relationship with Josh McDaniels, who served as offensive coordinator for New England for most of his tenure. Well, the same logic applies to Garoppolo. He played in the McDaniels system and thrived in his brief showing as a starter.

In the two games he played while Brady was serving his Deflategate suspension, Garoppolo completed 71% of his passes, threw for 496 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Again, that’s a small sample size, but he’s very familiar with McDaniels’ system and McDaniels is very familiar with him. If Vegas can’t get Brady now that he’s retired, Garoppolo might be the next best thing when they move away from Derek Carr.

CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones recently reported that Garoppolo will be among the veteran quarterbacks the Jets will bring on board this offseason. New York has the pieces ready to fight as early as 2023, but the quarterback position was a weak point for the organization as Zach Wilson failed to live up to expectations.

Not only does Garoppolo fit the profile of a quarterback who could be plugged into the Jets system and enhance the talent around him, but the franchise is quite familiar with him. Head coach Robert Saleh was the defensive coordinator at the San Francisco 49ers while Garoppolo was there, so there’s something of a past relationship.

This landing spot would also have the added juice of Garoppolo playing the Patriots twice a year, adding a pinch of spice we’re sure we’d all enjoy.

When quarterbacks like Garoppolo come along, it’s wise to look for connections between him and other organizations. That’s why the Jets and Raiders make sense as logical targets. On that note, don’t sleep on the Houston Texans.

Of course, the club just hired former 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans as its next head coach, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he brought along some Niners staff. That would familiarize much of the Houston leadership with Garoppolo due to its San Francisco ties, and then there’s GM Nick Caserio, who served as the Patriots’ director of player personnel when the team drafted Garoppolo. So there are several connections between the Texans and Garoppolo, dating back to his days in New England.

The only thing that could stand in the way of Garoppolo’s landing at the Texans is if the team decides to draft a quarterback with one of their first-round picks (No. 2 and No. 12 overall). That may not please Garoppolo, who likely wants to find a place where he has some semblance of a long-term future. However, if Ryans and co. build up that side of the ball with two defensive players, Garoppolo could make a lot of sense.

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