On Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers blew a 10-point lead with 10 minutes remaining to lose the Super Bowl to the Kansas City Chiefs. With a chance to connect on a potentially game-winning touchdown pass with just 1:40 left on the clock, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo badly overthrew receiver Emmanuel Sanders deep downfield. Now, just two days later, rumors are already circulating through the NFL media, as reported by NBC Sports, that the team could dump “Jimmy G” in favor of the future Hall of Fame quarterback he was once set to replace on the New England Patriots — Tom Brady.
Brady, for the first time in his 20-year career, is set to enter unrestricted free agency this offseason. While Patriots owner Robert Kraft has said that the team intends to keep Brady in New England, the 42-year-old six-time Super Bowl winner has already been linked to the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders, among other teams said to be willing to open up their checkbooks to acquire him.
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick selected Garoppolo in the second round of the 2014 draft, the highest draft pick he had ever used on a quarterback, with what appeared to be the intention of grooming the Eastern Illinois product to take over from the aging Brady. But midway through the 2017 season, when it became clear that Brady had no intention of stepping aside, Belichick traded Garoppolo to the 49ers.
The ESPN Get Up panel discusses the possibility of what would be a dramatic role reversal, with Brady ousting his former protege in San Francisco, in the video below.
Following the 2017 season, San Francisco inked Garoppolo to a five-year, $137.5 million contract, according to SpoTrac figures.
But according to NBC Sports reporter Phil Perry, there is a provision in the 28-year-old’s deal that allows the team to release him before June 1 — a move that would save the ‘Niners $22.4 million in space under the salary cap for the 2020 season.
That extra cap space would give the team enough financial flexibility to sign Brady as a free agent, according to Perry — who also notes that the current Patriots quarterback is a native of San Mateo, California, a San Francisco suburb. Brady as a youth was an avid fan of the 49ers and their Hall of Fame, four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Joe Montana.
Brady’s parents still live in the Bay Area, as well. But in addition to his possible sentimental attachment to the Bay Area, Brady would find himself “surrounded by talent” on a team that came just minutes away from winning a Super Bowl this season, Perry notes.
“It just comes down to whether or not San Francisco trusts Brady’s old backup,” the NBC Sports correspondent wrote. “The way in which they structured Garoppolo’s contract gives them an out — if they want it.”