A rising star named Jimmy Garoppolo apparently has set the bar for future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees.
Not on the field.
At the bank.
Garoppolo set the ceiling for the soon-to-be free agent Brees and other NFL quarterbacks Thursday, signing a five-year, $137.5 million contract with the 49ers that includes $74 million in guaranteed money and $90 million to be paid out over the first three years.
This blockbuster deal comes when the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted more than 1,000 points twice within four days, resulting in one of the most volatile weeks in the stock market in recent memory.
At $27.7 million annually, Garoppolo is assured of having the largest per-year average salary on a long-term contract in NFL history, higher than top-tier QBs Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Brees, among others, and total money.
For the moment, that is.
Keep in mind, Garoppolo has started seven NFL games. Seven games! Granted, he is a sparkling 7-0 in those games — 5-0 with the 49ers after coming over in a trade from the New England Patriots on Halloween.
Still, seven games are a small body of work and the sample size has room for error.
Now, I wonder how this major transaction will influence Brees and his agent Tom Condon going forward in their negotiations with Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis?
In other words, if Jimmy Garoppolo is worth $27.5 million annually with seven starts under his belt how much is Brees worth after all he’s accomplished during his stellar 17-year career with San Diego (2001-’05) and New Orleans (2006-present)?
Garoppolo has youth on his side at age 26. But Brees arguably is a more valuable commodity, short term anyway, even at 39.
Now whether Team Brees attempts to eclipse Garoppolo’s contract and in the process raise the current bar for NFL quarterbacks remains to be seen.
If he does, it could get ugly way down yonder in New Orleans. If Brees seeks the sun, moon and stars and doesn’t get it in New Orleans, he may explore free agency to see what the market might bear. And there would be multiple suitors, believe me.
If Brees chooses to stay home and settle for less in the Big Easy, then I suspect an amicable deal could be reached even before the start of free agency March 14.
Know this: Garoppolo’s deal exceeds the previous largest per-year average of a long-term contract that quarterback Matthew Stafford signed with the Detroit Lions last year (five years, $135 million). And it’s likely that number could grow exponentially in the coming months as Rodgers, Ryan and current Washington Redskins/pending free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins look to strike new deals.
But the only QB negotiations worth monitoring in these parts is the one involving Brees.
Suffice to say, Who Dat Nation hopes the price will be right.