Surprise team could have interest in Jimmy Garoppolo


San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo could be in play for the Atlanta Falcons.

It is safe to say the San Francisco 49ers are moving on from Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason.

While Brock Purdy needs to have Tommy John surgery and Trey Lance is coming off a major leg injury, so is Garoppolo. Though he won four playoff games as the 49ers quarterback, Garoppolo is not physically reliable to be a franchise signal-caller anymore. However, he can still be an effective bridge at this point in his career. One NFC team who has been tied to him are the Atlanta Falcons.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler mentioned Garoppolo could be exactly what the Dirty Birds are looking for.

“A bridge starter with QB1 upside, Garoppolo would get shades of the Niners’ Kyle Shanahan offense with the Falcons, thanks to Arthur Smith’s lean on the run and play-action. And Garoppolo would come at a reasonable financial clip.”

While Garoppolo would be an ideal fit for the Falcons, if they wanted to go in the bridge direction in 2023, the mere mention of Kyle Shanahan’s name makes Dirty Bird Nation’s collective skin crawl.

Atlanta started Marcus Mariota for the first 13 games last season before pivoting to third-round rookie Desmond Ridder for the final four. Mariota went 5-8 as the starter, while Ridder went 2-2.

The Falcons will be dripping in cap space for the first time in years, so they may kick the tires here.

NFL rumors: Jimmy Garoppolo could have a landing spot with the Atlanta Falcons

When the Falcons moved off former franchise cornerstone Matt Ryan in the wake of the Deshaun Watson debacle, it was painfully clear that Arthur Smith and his staff would be going with a bridge in 2022 and then draft a quarterback. Smith brought in the former Tennessee Titans starter, while Ridder bided his time backing up the talented, but painfully inconsistent dual-threat with Mariota.

In theory, Mariota was on a shortlist of capable bridge options the Falcons could have explored. Garoppolo was part of that grouping as well. Though Garoppolo has proven to be the better pro over the former Oregon star, it probably serves the Falcons to see what they have in Ridder this fall. He got better with every start down the stretch. Imagine what he could do in a full offseason.

Despite being the most handsome quarterback the league has ever seen, Garoppolo is a team-first guy and is more prone to embrace the role of backup than Mariota would. Once Ridder took the job from him, Mariota went on IR and vanished from Flowery Branch. Former Titans quarterback Logan Woodside served as Ridder’s backup during the final four games of last season.

Overall, the Falcons would be taking a flier on essentially a better version of Chris Chandler, a former day-two draft pick that while having great success in the league, was never seen as the guy and was always about to be replaced. While there is great debate on letting 2023 be Ridder’s season and his alone, Atlanta has a terrific opportunity to go worst-to-first in an awful NFC South.

With all that cap space and armed with improved quarterback play, Atlanta can go from an overachieving 7-10 team to a double-digit winner and a division champion rather quickly. Are you ready for a Falcons’ home playoff game in Uncle Arthur’s spaceship? We may be living in that world in less than a year. In truth, this is why Atlanta needs to at least explore adding Garoppolo.

Since the Falcons are paying Ridder virtually nothing, they can afford to pay a slight premium on one of the best backups in the league. Should Ridder get hurt or falter, Smith can have great confidence in turning the page to someone like Garoppolo. Ridder is beloved in the Falcons’ locker room, but Jimmy G is a guy! For the right price, he could help the Falcons get over the top in 2023.

For the first time in years, the Falcons seem to have a real shot at competing for a playoff berth.

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