Garoppolo's massive five-year, $137.5 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers made him the richest player in NFL history -- a feat destined to be topped by Kirk Cousins when he hits free agency next month.
Garoppolo's $27.5 million annual earnings -- after just seven pro starts under center -- sets the floor for Cousins and his camp as they haggle with suitors pining after the former Redskins starter.
"That's the difference between being on the open market and not on the open market," NFL Network's Mike Garafolo said Thursday. "And we saw that at other positions, too. I mean look at defensive lineman] [Olivier Vernon getting $17 million per year from the Giants a couple of years ago when guys that were [franchise] tagged were getting somewhere in the area of $15 million."
The Garoppolo pact provides a crystal-clear baseline for quarterback pay, but Garafolo noted that "people around the league already expected the Cousins deal to be in the area of $30 million anyway."
Free agency lends itself to open-market bidding wars, but Garoppolo's money -- and what Cousins is about to earn -- won't go unnoticed by a flock of longtime, Super Bowl-winning starters whose latest deals have a prehistoric feel amid this new money.
Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, arguably the finest passer league-wide, is slated to make $19.8 million next season and just $20 million in 2019. Tom Brady's base salary next autumn? A dainty $14 million. In Philadelphia, meanwhile, the combined salary for Carson Wentz and Nick Foles -- south of $10 million combined for 2018 -- looks like the steal of the decade. There's also the cases of Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, both in line for new contracts in the near future.
Still, recent deals for Matthew Stafford ($27.0 million annually) and Derek Carr ($25.0 million annually) circle close to a Garoppolo contract that will fall back into the pack as new superstar arms get theirs.
As cap room continues to expand, the pay scale for reliable starting quarterbacks is set to skyrocket into new hemispheres.
Long underpaid in comparison to, say, even marginal baseball players, the NFL quarterback -- the most important position in sports -- is entering a golden age of cash-earned glories.