Jimmy Garoppolo NFL free agency: Five potential landing spots

Jimmy Garoppolo’s tenure with the 49ers appears to be over — this time for good.

This isn’t just a reference to Tom Brady’s latest retirement announcement. Head coach Kyle Shanahan on Wednesday flatly said he doesn’t see script in which Garoppolo returns to the Bay Area in 2023.

That could also happen last offseason when the 49ers looked for a trade, but Garoppolo ended up staying put and stepping in for the injured Trey Lance before suffering his own season-ending injury.

But a return to the Bay is now less likely than before because Jimmy G is headed his way unrestricted free agencyso the 49ers have less reason to keep him.

Let’s take a look at five teams that could pursue Garoppolo when free agency opens:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This seems pretty obvious. Garoppolo was slated to be Brady’s successor in New England before eventually being traded to San Francisco, but with the 45-year-old seemingly done in Tampa Bay, the door is wide open.

And with 33-year-old Blaine Gabbert also an unrestricted free agent, 24-year-old Kyle Trask is the only QB under contract in Tampa. He played just one game after being drafted in 2021, and it wasn’t as a starter.

The Buccaneers still have the pieces to make another playoff push, especially on offense with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Garoppolo may not be Brady, but he helps the Bucs’ chances of atop an open NFC South and shouldn’t hurt the team’s financial books long term.

Las Vegas Raiders

Derek Carr’s time with the Raiders also appears to be over. There is a hypothetical scenario where he stays put like Garoppolo did because he has a contract that isn’t easy to trade, but if he does leave Sin City, Garoppolo could step in.

The Raiders must also be disappointed by the Brady news, given that a potential marriage seemed like destiny, but Garoppolo is still an upgrade over Carr — not a huge one, admittedly, but still an upgrade that’s hard to find in NFL.

Garoppolo, at the very least, could help Las Vegas push for second place in the AFC West if it’s unpredictable for a second straight season.

New York Jets

Garoppolo’s best games with the 49ers came when the team featured a mostly stout and energetic defense that ranked at or near the top of the NFL. This could also happen if he joins the Jet planeswith Zach Wilson’s time with the franchise also seemingly ending rather abruptly.

It helps that New York’s head coach is Robert Saleh, a familiar face during the Super Bowl in San Francisco in 2019. The Jets’ defense is already solid and could improve next season, while the offense will be anchored by new coordinator Nathaniel Hackett , who had just one year as Denver’s head coach in 2022.

Is this the coveted name Garoppolo would like to work with after the Broncos’ terrible season? Do the Jets have a potential trade they’d prefer instead? Will Saleh be key to getting a deal done? Gang Green could become Gang Garoppolo in 2023.

Houston Texas

DeMeco Ryans is now the main man in H-Town. He’s another familiar face in Garoppolo’s eyes after serving as Saleh’s backup as San Francisco’s defensive coordinator.

Davis Mills, a starter the past two seasons, has shown no positive signs of being the long-term answer.

Neither does the 31-year-old Garoppolo, to be fair, but he’s a clear upgrade over Mills. The Texans have the No. 2 overall pick in 2023 and should use it on a young quarterback — like Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud or Will Levis — but signing Garoppolo to serve as a bridge to whoever Houston selects could be a potential path for the team drives through.


These three teams are grouped together because they’re all in the same boat: none have legitimate ties to Garoppolo or possess a young quarterback brewing behind the scenes, and all have first-round picks that may be out of reach for a potentially elite QB in draft.

However, one of those teams could take a swing at a young QB like Anthony Richardson or Hendon Hooker and use Garoppolo as a bridge to develop them.

Also, Washington is in a similar boat to the Jets, where they have a playoff-caliber defense, some solid skill players, but no legitimate QB. Garoppolo could be a short-term solution after the Commanders narrowly missed the 2022 playoffs.

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