This major factor looms in Panthers’ potential trade for 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo

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The Carolina Panthers may already have Jimmy Garoppolo lined up as their starting quarterback for the 2022 campaign if not for one small thing. (Okay, maybe it’s not that small.)

As noted by MMQB senior editor Albert Breer on Monday, any potential trade of the San Francisco 49ers’ 30-year-old passer—to the Panthers or otherwise—still hinges largely on his upcoming salary. Garoppolo, who carries another pertinent caveat in the fact that he’s fresh off rotator cuff surgery on his throwing arm, is set to earn a pretty hefty $24.6 million this season.

“The Niners, I’ve been told repeatedly, are willing to let other teams talk to him about renegotiating the contract—and that’s necessary now, because just two teams (the Browns and Panthers, interestingly) could absorb that lump-sum without any sort of cap maneuvering,” Breer writes.

The Panthers currently have a smidge over $25 million in cap space to work with. But that, as Breer adds, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s reserved for a swap of Jimmy G.

“Meanwhile, San Francisco is extremely tight to the cap, with both Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel needing deals. So when Garoppolo’s healthy, which should be soon, will he be willing to work with another team to lower his number (his salary doesn’t become guaranteed until Week 1, which means the Niners can cut him without penalty before then) to get the chance to start somewhere else? Or will he try to leverage his release, which would likely mean losing money, but getting to pick his destination?”

Whether it’s been for Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield, Carolina has taken a calculated approach in finding themselves a solution under center. And by “calculated,” we mean patient—very patient.

Even in the case of rookie Matt Corral, general manager Scott Fitterer and head coach Matt Rhule waited for the Ole Miss standout to drop all the way down towards the end of the third round to pounce. It was clear on that night, if it wasn’t earlier, that this braintrust wasn’t going to trip over themselves for a quarterback that was less than certifiable.

So that, clearly, remains the case for the Panthers. Will they keep the pressure on the Cleveland Browns? Will they bide more time for a Garoppolo release? Or will they go into play with what they’ve got now?

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