While the San Francisco 49ers' trade with the New England Patriots for Jimmy Garoppolo might suggest that they would enter into a long-term partnership with the quarterback, in reality, he serves as a placeholder at the position until they get to know each other, league sources told ESPN.
The Niners traded a second-round pick Monday night to the Patriots for Garoppolo.
With a potential pick among the top two in the 2018 NFL draft and roughly $60 million in salary-cap space in the offseason, the 49ers could decide to draft their quarterback of the future or use some of their money to sign a free-agent quarterback such as Washington's Kirk Cousins, sources said.
If the 49ers do not sign Garoppolo to a long-term deal, they could use a franchise tag on him and then dangle him to the highest bidder in a trade. If they were to do that, other teams would be interested, sources said, and they could possibly get back more than the second-round pick they surrendered.
Garoppolo started New England's first two games in 2016 during Tom Brady's four-game Deflategate suspension before spraining his shoulder. Garoppolo was 42-of-59 passing with four touchdowns and zero interceptions in the two wins for the eventual Super Bowl champions.
It has been the only significant playing time in the NFL for Garoppolo, a second-round pick in the 2014 draft by the Patriots out of Eastern Illinois.