Lions trade rumors: Is Jimmy Garoppolo an ideal redo as a bridge quarterback?

Nov 28, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) warms up before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 28, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) warms up before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

If the Detroit Lions look to acquire another bridge quarterback in the offseason, would Jimmy Garoppolo be a good option?

It might be the worst-kept secret in the NFL, but Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported last weekend the San Francisco 49ers will look to trade Jimmy Garoppolo in the offseason and make Trey Lance their starting quarterback next season.

In many other years, there would be a quarterback worthy of the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. But looking to next April, that’s not the case as the Detroit Lions move toward going on the clock with the first overall pick. If they take a quarterback in the first round, their second first-round pick (from the Rams in the Matthew Stafford trade) looks more ideal.

But what if, and it’s not a stretch to suggest it, the Lions wait until the 2023 draft to take who they hope will be their long-term franchise quarterback? That means finding another stopgap signal caller in the offseason, and upgrading from Jared Goff shouldn’t be too hard.

Lions rumors: Should Jimmy Garoppolo be on Detroit’s offseason radar?

In reaction to the news about the 49ers lining up to move him, lists of possible trade destinations for Garoppolo have come. Justin Melo of The Draft Network stated a case for the Lions on his list of three teams who should trade for “Jimmy G.”

"The winless Detroit Lions can’t possibly move forward with Jared Goff as their starting quarterback in 2022. General manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell gave Goff an opportunity to prove he’s worthy of being considered their quarterback of the future. Goff has responded with several abysmal performances. The former No. 1 overall pick is currently averaging just 6.4 yards per passing attempt, which represents a career-low mark since he became a starter. Goff has thrown just 10 touchdowns in 10 games and has failed to lead the Lions to a single victory thus far.The Lions currently own the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 draft, but the upcoming draft class lacks a high-end quarterback talent. The Lions are more likely to boost their defense or offensive line with that pick, with Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux and Michigan’s Aidan Hutchison currently serving as the favorites. The Lions must search for a different solution at quarterback this offseason, one that doesn’t include Goff or a top draft pick. Garoppolo would provide an immediate upgrade."

First off, it doesn’t take much to be an upgrade over Goff. Garoppolo is averaging a full two yards more per pass attempt (8.4) and adjusted yards per attempt (8.3; to 6.2 for Goff) this season. In the same number of games, Garoppolo has three more touchdown passes (13).

Garoppolo has also benefitted from the talent around him (Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle), and having a generally well-regarded offensive coach behind him in Kyle Shanahan. The Lions will be able to add more offensive talent in the offseason to prop up whoever the quarterback is next year, and they’ll certainly have a new offensive coordinator.

There are of course contractual matters to consider. The Lions inexplicably tied themselves tighter to Goff in 2022 by adjusting his contract when they acquired him. By contrast, the 49ers can move on from Garoppolo via a trade or cut with only $1.4 million in dead money for next year.

The Lions could designate Goff as post-June 1 cut in 2022 and easy some of the dead money hit. But, via Over The Cap, it would still be $20.5 million in dead money and they would be carrying him and his cap hit deeper into the offseason than is ideal. A trade, should they be able to find a team that’s somehow willing to do it, would ease the cap pain. Goff could be asked to further restructure his contract to pave the way for a trade.

Swapping Goff for Garoppolo is a convenient idea as the Lions may consider a pivot to another bridge quarterback in 2022, and it’s not totally out of the question even with cap considerations for Goff in play that can’t be ignored. But Garoppolo is not likely to land in Detroit when he is dealt in the offseason, since numberous other teams have an easier path to adding him if they want to.

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