The first major domino fell in what’s expected to be an eventful offseason on Tuesday when the Kansas City Chiefs agreed to a trade sending Alex Smith to Washington for a third-round draft pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller.
The biggest ramification coming out of that deal, from a league-wide perspective, is Washington’s incumbent quarterback Kirk Cousins hitting the open market where a slew of teams are expected to be interested in his services. Cousins could end up getting one of the largest contracts in league history while setting the tone for Jimmy Garoppolo’s negotiations with the 49ers.
San Francisco’s general manager John Lynch went on KNBR on Wednesday and reiterated what he said last week at the Senior Bowl. He remains optimistic the team can sign Garoppolo to a long-term contract after the former Patriot shifted the course of the franchise by going 5-0 as the starter to end the 2017 season.
“As I said last week, we are working hard and these things are complicated,” Lynch said. “We feel optimistic in the discussions we’ve had with Jimmy’s side, and not going to give a play-by-play as we agreed with Don Yee (Garoppolo’s agent) and Jimmy’s camp that we weren’t going to give play-by-plays on this, we are going to let it happen. I can tell you that we’ve had pretty good conversations and we are very optimistic.”
Garoppolo and his reps could decide to see how things play out with Cousins before setting a number with San Francisco. The Jets, Broncos, Browns and Cardinals among the teams needing a starting quarterback, making it likely Cousins gets a new deal in the neighborhood of $27 million per season.
Additionally, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is an extension candidate this offseason and would likely get more than Cousins after winning MVP and making multiple deep postseason runs, including to last season’s Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers’ will be up for a new contract in 2019.
The 49ers plan on giving Garoppolo the franchise tag ensuring he returns to San Francisco and stays off the open market. The deadline for tagged players to sign a long-term contract is in mid-July. The exclusive tag is expected to come in near $25 million for 2018.
Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan have maintained since trading for Garoppolo in late October that they’re committed to making him the long-term starter.
“I think the most important thing in a deal like this, as I said we want Jimmy very much to be our franchise quarterback, and I think Jimmy wants that as well,” Lynch said. “To me that makes too much sense not to happen. So, we’re going to continue working. Don Yee’s got another quarterback in this game, who’s very focused on this game, so we’re going to let this week play out and then get back to work and we’ll see. That’s the best update I can give you.”