Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo were separated by 26 picks in the 2014 draft.
This fall, Carr will make $25 million. Garoppolo will make less than $900,000.
“I don’t think about it too much,” Garoppolo said, when I asked him about it the other day. “I’m happy for Derek. I know him from playing in the Senior Bowl and going through the draft process. It’s tremendous. He deserved it. It’s just one of those things. You’ve gotta go about your business.
“You start thinking about those things, you’ll get your head all twisted up worrying about the wrong things. When that time comes, I’ll approach that and go about my business that way.”
What’s uncertain is what’ll happen when that time comes at the end of this season. And that part is complicated, which is our lesson for this week: There are a number of teams facing tricky franchise-tag situations with veteran quarterbacks for 2018.
Here’s a rundown …
• Patriots: New England could effectively kick the long-term QB decision can down the road for another year by tagging Garoppolo at about $22 million in 2018. The issue there? Tom Brady is slated to make $15 million. So, to make this work, does New England have to give Brady a raise in the neighborhood of $8 million? And even if you got that worked out, and were willing to allocate $45 million to two players, would Garoppolo be OK with sitting another year while the team waits to see what a 41-year-old Brady looks like? It seems more likely this is an either/or proposition.
• Vikings: Both Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater are in contract years, and there’s only one franchise tag between them. When I asked GM Rick Spielman about it, he said, “We haven’t made any decisions yet. But I know through our roster planning and our cap planning, we have plans in place to have that position taken care of.” If Bridgewater sits out the year and his contract tolls—there could be a dispute over that down the line—Minnesota may be able to delay a long-term decision another here. At least for now, it seems that chances would be that one or the other will be a free agent.
• Saints: Drew Brees is in a contract year, publicly says he’s not worried about getting an extension done now, and has a no-franchise-tag provision in his contract for 2018. So in a way, New Orleans will have to prove to him that it’s still the right place for a quarterback who will be 39 years old when the free-agent gates open in March. And Sean Payton’s future beyond this year probably will play into that call, too.
• Redskins: This one’s been well-covered. It’d cost Washington a market-busting $34.47 million to franchise Cousins again, and $28.73 million for the team just to retain matching rights (with no compensation coming back if he leaves) via the transition tag. Meanwhile, Cousins knows he’ll have one natural landing spot (San Francisco) and might have two (Los Angeles, depending on Jared Goff’s play).
• Lions: Matthew Stafford is the other big quarterbacking name in a contract year, and by far the least likely guy on this list to change addresses. Detroit will get something done with him, but Stafford’s franchise number is high ($26.4 million), because his expiring deal has a big cap number for 2017. That, on paper, gives him the leverage to ask for close to $30 million per (2 tags = $58.08 million). Or he could give a little back there and ask for more cash to be guaranteed. Either way, he’s in a good spot.
So what does all this mean? Well, because so many of these quarterbacks have an open lane on the highway to free agency, and the draft class (Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, etc.) is expected to be really solid, 2018 may be the first offseason that I can remember where supply at the game’s most important position could exceed demand.
And if it plays out that way, watching the dominoes fall from there will be fascinating.
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