Garoppolo's immediate success also sent a panic through 49ers fans because he was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 14. Conspiracy theories about the Patriots' true plans -- a second-round pick was suspiciously low for a potential franchise quarterback -- abounded online and there was a worry that somehow he'd get away.
The team and Garoppolo's agent, Don Yee, began discussing a long-term deal in earnest when the 2017 season ended. The talks heated up the week of the Super Bowl and continued this week.
San Francisco could have placed the franchise tag, a one-year deal worth about $23.5 million, on Garoppolo, all but assuring he'd be with the team for the 2018 season. The first day to do that would have been Feb. 20.
The new deal exceeds that on a per-year basis, but may not be tops in the league for long. Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins is poised to hit free agency next month while other established quarterbacks like Atlanta's Matt Ryan, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and Seattle's Russell Wilson are poised for new contracts as well.
The 49ers were expected to have more than $100 million in salary-cap space for 2018 and it will be interesting to see how Garoppolo's deal is structured. ESPN reported it was worth $90 million in the first three years, suggesting it was front-loaded to take advantage of the team's salary-cap cushion.
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