QB Jimmy Garoppolo likely to draw interest from Panthers, Raiders, Texans

Though it’s a year later than most expected, Jimmy Garoppolo’s bags are all but packed for a San Francisco departure.

Following six seasons with the 49ers that featured success, injuries and ups and downs aplenty, Garoppolo should find a wealth of suitors when free agency hits on March 15.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans and Las Vegas Raiders are teams likely to be interested in Garoppolo.

Though the Niners have young quarterbacks Trey Lance and Brock Purdy each on the comeback trail from injuries, head coach Kyle Shanahan emphatically stated in February that he could not “see any scenario” in which Garoppolo returned to the roster.

Thus, Jimmy G is bound for free agency an offseason after he was expected to be traded. Garoppolo wasn’t traded, of course, as a shoulder injury threw a monkey wrench into the Niners’ best laid plans. Though Garoppolo’s presence on the roster proved to be pivotal when Lance went down, he was also injured when a foot ailment ended his 2022 campaign. There was hope Garoppolo could be available for San Francisco had it advanced to the Super Bowl last season, so he should be good to go for whomever comes calling in free agency.

The quarterback-needy Texans (No. 2 overall pick in 2023 NFL Draft), Raiders (No. 7) and Panthers (No. 9) are all positioned to potentially draft a quarterback of the future — and sign a veteran bridge QB.

The 31-year-old Garoppolo, whose affability and presence has long been lauded by teammates and coaches, could fill that role to aplomb. Last season, Garoppolo was 7-3 as a starter with 16 touchdowns to four interceptions and 2,437 yards in 11 games. That’s all but certainly his final tally with the 49ers.

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With Las Vegas, Garoppolo has past history with Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels. McDaniels was the New England Patriots offensive coordinator for each of Jimmy G’s three seasons with the Pats from 2014-2016.

Garoppolo also has ties to the Texans, with former 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans having taken the reins as Houston’s head coach and Bobby Slowik, a Niners assistant since 2017, having been hired as the team’s offensive coordinator.

Slowik didn’t hide his interest in Garoppolo when speaking to reporters on Wednesday.

“We have a process we go through,” Slovik said, via team transcript, when asked if he had interest in Garoppolo. “Jimmy is obviously part of that process. He’s going to be a free agent. We grind through that as a coaching staff. We grind through that in the personnel department. We have conversations. I’ve had conversations with [general manager] Nick [Caserio]. He has conversations with DeMeco [Ryans]. Then, Nick and DeMeco put their heads together and lay out a plan of what we want to do going forward and we’ll see where that takes us.”

With Frank Reich taking over as head coach in Carolina, another new quarterback is likely for the Panthers. If the Panthers are to spend a first-rounder on a QB for the first time since selecting Cam Newton in 2011, Garoppolo would conceivably be a solid choice as a stop-gap.

Though Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson’s futures remain uncertain with their current clubs, Garoppolo is the top free-agent QB. Ranked 22nd in Gregg Rosenthal’s Top 101 NFL free agents, Garoppolo will be one of the biggest QB dominoes to fall this offseason following Derek Carr’s signing with the New Orleans Saints.

The Panthers, Raiders and Texans figure to have a say in just where Jimmy G’s next stop will be.

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