Jimmy Garoppolo just hit the jackpot.
The 49ers agreed to sign the 26-year-old quarterback to a five-year, $ 137.5 million contract on Thursday, the largest average-per-year contract in NFL history.
The deal includes $ 74 million in guaranteed money, according to NBC Sports Bay Area, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the three-year cash total will be shy of just $ 90 million, also the largest in NFL history.
Garoppolo is now the highest paid player in the NFL with an average of $ 27.5 million per year, which is $ 500,000 more per year than Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, and he has yet to play a full season in the NFL.
The quarterback out of Eastern Illinois was drafted by the Patriots in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft and backed up Tom Brady for three-and-half years before he was traded to the 49ers for a second-round pick this past season a day before the trade deadline.
Garoppolo went 5-0 in five games he started for the 49ers, throwing six touchdowns and five interceptions and completing 67% of his passes for 1,542 yards in those games.
He led the Niners to victories over three playoff teams — the Titans, Jaguars and Rams.
Garoppolo is actually 7-0 in his career as a starter, winning two games for the Patriots in 2016 while Brady served a four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate. He threw for four touchdowns and 496 yards before he sustained a shoulder injury early in the third game he started that would force him back to the sideline.
Niners’ left tackle Joe Staley, the 49ers’ longest tenured player, said teammates’ confidence in Garoppolo — and by extension, the confidence in themselves — rose with every victory.
“It’s a team game and everything, and I think everyone would like to say their position is as important as any other,” Staley said on SiriusXM NFL radio Thursday. “But we’re not fooling anybody — it’s a quarterback-driven (league). And you have to have a lot of confidence in that quarterback position. And Jimmy really gave us that spark at the end of the year.”
Garoppolo’s immediate success also sent a panic through 49ers fans because he was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 14.
Conspiracy theories about the Patriots’ true plans — a second-round pick was suspiciously low for a potential franchise quarterback — abounded online and there was a worry that somehow he’d get away.
The team and Garoppolo’s agent, Don Yee, began discussing a long-term deal in earnest when the 2017 season ended. The talks heated up the week of the Super Bowl and continued this week.
An ESPN report in early January suggested Belichick never wanted to deal Garoppolo, but Brady, 40, continuously expressed to owner Bob Kraft and Belichick of his desire to play well into his 40s.
The Patriots reportedly offered Garoppolo contract extensions worth $ 17-18 million annually and an increase if he replaced Brady prior to the trade, but he rejected the offer.
The new deal exceeds that on a per-year basis, but may not be tops in the league for long. Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins is poised to hit free agency next month while other established quarterbacks like Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Seattle’s Russell Wilson are poised for new contracts as well.
The 49ers were expected to have more than $ 100 million in salary-cap space for 2018 and it will be interesting to see how Garoppolo’s deal is structured. ESPN reported it was worth $ 90 million in the first three years, suggesting it was front-loaded to take advantage of the team’s salary-cap cushion.
With News Wire Services