The details on Jimmy Garoppolo’s new contract with the 49ers are available for scrutiny, and it’s hard not to notice how beneficial the terms turned out to be for both the player and the team.
Garoppolo and the Niners agreed last week to a deal with a max length of five years and a max value of $137.5 million—a per-year average of $27.5 million, the highest APY in league history. According to the contract filed with the NFLPA, the parameters of which have been obtained by Deadspin, there are $74.1 million in total guarantees, of which $48.7 million is fully guaranteed for both injury and performance. Those latter two figures are lower than what Andrew Luck got from the Colts two years ago ($87 million total guaranteed), and less than what Matt Stafford ($60.5 million) and Aaron Rodgers ($54 million) are getting by way of full guarantees. None of which may matter in the long run anyway.
Effectively, Garoppolo’s deal amounts to two years, $61.2 million, with a strong likelihood of three years, $86.4 million. Though because he’s a quarterback with a lot of upside, he’ll probably see this one through all five years, barring some kind of negotiation toward an extension. Not too shabby for a dude with seven career starts across four seasons, though let’s be real: Even in a small sample size, Garoppolo has shown he has the makings of a franchise-caliber quarterback. He took over a Niners team that was 1-10 and promptly led them to five victories to end the season. That he and San Francisco would come to terms on a megadeal was a matter of when, not if. But while Garoppolo will be getting his, the Niners structured this bad boy to both protect themselves and to set themselves up for the future. Let’s dig in.
What’s striking about Garoppolo’s deal is how front-loaded it is. He’s scheduled to receive $42.6 million in cash this year alone, and a total of $61.2 million through 2019. But how this money will be accounted for under the cap is how it stands to benefit both sides.
The deal includes a small signing bonus ($7 million) plus a modest 2018 base salary of just $6.2 million, along with per-game roster bonuses totaling $800,000, and a workout bonus of $600,000. The remaining $28 million? That will come in the form of a roster bonus payable on March 16 but that was fully guaranteed at the time the contract was signed. It’s the decision to pack most of that guaranteed money into a roster bonus—rather than a signing bonus—that makes this deal unique.
A signing bonus would have to be prorated across the life of the contract, thus potentially tying the Niners’ hands down the road if Garoppolo were to completely shit his pants. A roster bonus, meanwhile, is still payable up-front—which is good for Garoppolo—with all of that money counting against the Niners’ 2018 cap. All told, Garoppolo’s cap charge for this year will be $37 million ($6.2 million salary plus $28 million roster bonus plus $1.4 million in per-game/workout bonuses plus $1.4 million prorated signing bonus).
This works in San Francisco’s favor because the Niners went into this offseason with nearly $120 million in projected cap room. They’re simply using a lot of that in Year 1—an effectively guaranteed season anyway, since they’re not cutting Garoppolo this year—while also leaving themselves with the resources to spend down the road to build around Garoppolo. And Paraag Marathe, the Niners’ contract negotiator, even told Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer he would have put even more into Year 1 if not for a rule in the CBA that forces teams to make the Year 2 cap number at least 50 percent of what it is in Year 1.
In 2019, Garoppolo’s base salary is $17.2 million, all of which is guaranteed for injury, with $7.5 million fully guaranteed and the remainder vesting into a full guarantee if he’s still on the roster on April 1, 2019. This means Garoppolo’s cap charge next year will be a mere $20 million (base salary plus $1.4 million in per game/roster bonuses plus $1.4 million prorated signing bonus), which gives the Niners a bit of flexibility with filling out the rest of their roster.
Come 2020, 2021, and 2022, Garoppolo is slated to make $23.8 million, $24.1 million, and $24.2 million in base salary, respectively, with $15.7 million of his 2020 salary guaranteed for injury. That injury guarantee, by the way, vests into a full guarantee on April 1, 2020, which gives the Niners the ability to cut him before then if he were to somehow morph into Blaine Gabbert. His cap charges from 2020-22 will be $26.6 million, $26.9 million, and $27 million—all of which could look quite reasonable once other QBs like Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan, and Rodgers get new contracts in the next year or so. Put it this way: QBs generally take up about 15 percent of a team’s cap in a given year. But per ovethecap.com, Garoppolo will count for an estimated 21 percent this year, and just 11 percent and 13 percent in the two years after that.
One last thing: Garoppolo and his agents, Don Yee and Carter Chow, worked a little bit of security into the back end of the deal, too, with $7.5 million in possible injury guarantees in ’21 and ’22. Those guarantees are incentivized, and Garoppolo will see them if he’s first- or second-team AP All-NFL in any year or if he plays 50 percent of the snaps, the team reaches the conference championship game, and he’s played 50 percent of the snaps in the playoff games preceding the conference title game.
All told, Garoppolo gets his money—and gets a lot of it early—while the Niners cover themselves in the event of something calamitous or unforeseen involving a potential savior with so little experience. A victory all around.