While Tom Brady soaks in the glory of a fifth Super Bowl championship, Jimmy Garoppolo sits in the background with an uncertain future awaiting his turn.
Brady is 39, hasn’t shown many (if any) signs of slowing down, and is under contract for three more years. Garoppolo is 25 (won’t be 26 until Nov. 2), and the Patriots have him under contract for just one more season.
In an ideal world, Garoppolo is New England’s heir apparent and the quarterback in charge of sustaining the success Brady and head coach Bill Belichick have built for the better part of a decade.
But for that to happen, Brady and the Patriots will have to part ways upon the expiration of his contract or sooner – but that does not seem like a likely scenario at this time:
In their long-term planning, #Patriots believe QB Tom Brady will play 3-5 more years, sources say. That's why trading Jimmy G is possible.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 5, 2017
If Brady does play five more years, it would take him through his age 44 season and Garoppolo will be long gone by the end of that contract. The Patriots could keep Garoppolo and Brady together for the next three years, either by extension or by way of the franchise tag, but paying two quarterbacks top dollar in the salary cap era doesn’t seem like an efficient use of cap space.
Hence, the concept of trading Garoppolo now makes sense, and why rumors will continue to percolate. That includes, of course, the Bears, who’ve reportedly made Garoppolo their number one target.
More from the Garoppolo rumor circuit …
- Nick Wright of FOX Sports argues now is the perfect time to trade Garoppolo. Not only are the Patriots known for making stealth deals when they trade assets at their peak value, but trading Garoppolo this offseason would allow the team to add pieces to get the most from Brady’s career and New England’s current championship window.
- Indeed, if the Patriots truly believe Brady will play for the next 3-5 years, then it would make sense to trade Garoppolo for assets that will maximize the team’s competitive window. For as promising of a career as Garoppolo might have, there is very little he can do to help the Patriots win Super Bowl 52 as Brady’s backup. Which means if the Patriots can trade Garoppolo and bring in the kind of pieces that can be helpful to Brady’s quest for a sixth ring, now is the time to do it.
- No matter what their decision is, the Patriots’ first offseason priority is to figure out what they will do with Garoppolo, according to ESPN’s Mike Sando.
- The Browns, 49ers and Bears – who have the first three picks in the NFL Draft and project to have vacancies at quarterback – are all in play on the trade market if the Patriots decide to go that route. If the Bears really do go hard after Garoppolo, they will face stiff competition from across the NFL.
- At the top of the list might be the Browns, who are in the most unique situation. As owners of the first pick in the NFL Draft (you can see the entire order here) they could have their pick of any quarterback prospect. Steve Doerschuk of the Times Reporter (Canton, Ohio) writes that all eyes are on the Browns, who could pick from top prospects Deshaun Watson or Mitch Trubisky in the draft. However, Watson and Trubisky would both be rookies coming into a situation that has chewed up and spit out rookie quarterbacks time and again. And while Garoppolo has minimal experience, he has spent three years learning his craft under the league’s most successful coach-quarterback combination.
- The Browns could have had Garoppolo already in the fold if former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan had his way in 2014. During Super Bowl week, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports Shanahan said he had Derek Carr of the Raiders and Garoppolo as the top two quarterbacks in the draft class – which is the year the team chose former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel in the first round. Shanahan, who is expected to be named the 49ers head coach, could get a second chance at Garoppolo – who is near the top of his offseason wish list, according to NFL.com’s Conor Orr.
- Much like the Browns, Shanahan’s 49ers can travel many roads before coming to a conclusion about their future quarterback. Also on Shanahan’s reported wish list are Kirk Cousins and Matt Schaub, both of whom Shanahan has coached in previous stops. Cousins is more of a long-term fit for San Francisco, while Schaub is more likely to slide into a bridge quarterback role after backing up Matt Ryan in Atlanta. Washington might not be interested in letting Cousins go right now, however, and they could keep him by way of an extension, or a second consecutive franchise tag.
- Lost in the Super Bowl madness, Garoppolo briefly addressed the shoulder injury he suffered in Week 2. The Boston Globe reports Garoppolo called the injury “one of those freak things” and indicated he doesn’t have much of a prior injury history. An injury to Garoppolo’s shoulder could have been a hit to his trade value, but that doesn’t seem like an issue at this time.