The Patriots don’t plan to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. But how likely is it that their plans will change?
Shortly after Adam Schefter reported (echoing something Peter King had said) that the Patriots aren’t trading Garoppolo, Mike Reiss of ESPN noted that the Patriots may still change their minds.
Reiss, a longtime Boston reporter who is very plugged-in to the way the Patriots do business, suggests that the Patriots may get an offer they can’t refuse. Reiss speculates that if a team offered its 2017 first-round draft pick plus a conditional future first-round draft pick, that would be enough for Bill Belichick to decide to deal Garoppolo.
That would be a lot for some other team to give up. It would also be a lot more than the Patriots got the last time they traded Tom Brady’s backup: In 2009, the Patriots packaged Matt Cassel with Mike Vrabel and only got a second-round pick in return. Garoppolo for two first-round picks would be a whole lot better than that.
What it would take remains to be seen, but Reiss is surely correct that there has to be some offer that would at least get Belichick to listen. Garoppolo is, after all, just a backup, and if things go as planned he’ll never see the field in 2017. And after 2017 Garoppolo is a free agent. At that point the Patriots would either lose him for nothing more than a compensatory pick, or franchise him and devote more than $20 million in cap space to a backup, something no team has ever done.
That assumes Garoppolo will still be a backup in 2018. Does Belichick think Brady may only have one more year left in him? If so, it would make sense to hang on to Garoppolo and hope he can become the Aaron Rodgers to Brady’s Brett Favre, or the Steve Young to Brady’s Joe Montana.
But Brady insists he still has several more good years left in him. If the Patriots believe Brady, it would seem to make more sense to trade Garoppolo and acquire a player or players who can help them keep winning with Brady. As Reiss notes, the right offer would get the Patriots to make that move, even if their plan for now is to keep their backup quarterback in place.