Hannable: A day later, trying to make sense of Jimmy Garoppolo trade

Ryan Hannable
November 01, 2017 - 12:14 am

Stan Szeto/USA Today Sports

Here we are, the day following the Patriots making one of the biggest personnel decisions in recent memory when Bill Belichick traded a soon-to-be 26-year-old Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick.

The move came as a shocker to many at the time, but having a day to take everything in and hear from the people involved, it certainly makes more sense than it did Monday night when word first trickled out.

It all but ensures Tom Brady will be the quarterback of the Patriots until he retires.

Here is a breakdown of all the major factors associated with the trade, and ultimately how it all came to fruition.

TIMING OF TRADE

Belichick addressed the timing during his conference call on Tuesday when he said the Patriots “rode it out as long as we could” and it was “the last window” they had. Certainly, the Patriots could have traded Garoppolo this past offseason, but Brady was going to turn 40 years old during training camp. They couldn’t operate like he was say 30 and in his prime — no matter how much work he does with the TB12 Method. All offseason we heard the Patriots were not making Garoppolo available and 49ers GM John Lynch confirmed this during Garoppolo’s introductory press conference when he said they were quickly shut down when they inquired in the offseason.

Why wasn’t he available? The Patriots needed to see with their own eyes Brady was still playing at the same level and therefore could not afford to trade Garoppolo in case he in fact did slip. 

Fast forward to this week, if the Patriots did not trade Garoppolo he would be a free agent after the season and would put the Patriots in a tough spot. They could try and sign him to an extension, but with Brady playing the way he is, Garoppolo likely wouldn’t see his time in sight, so why would he sign an extension when he wants to play? You could tell in his voice during his press conference in San Francisco just how excited he was to actually be able to play and be the starting quarterback of a NFL team. ESPN’s Adam Schefter also reported the Patriots started negotiations with him in the spring, but realized they likely would not be able to get a deal done and that also played a role in trading him.

The Patriots could have placed the franchise tag on him, but that would cost close to $20 million and it is something the organization rarely uses. Also, it would impact the team’s offseason with all the money involved. The franchise tag would also only buy them one more year of having both Brady and Garoppolo on the roster and with the way Brady is playing, and being signed through 2019, it would not do them any good.

This truly was the last worthwhile time the Patriots could trade Garoppolo and get something in return.

COMPENSATION RECEIVED

Some feel the Patriots did not get the best value for Garoppolo with just a second-round pick. This is the part which is certainly up for debate.

The rumors during the offseason were the Browns were offering multiple first-round picks for him, but on Monday night NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport said the Patriots were never offered a first-round pick, just a second and a little more.

So, maybe the Patriots really couldn’t get a first-rounder in return, but what they got is as close to one as they could get given the 49ers will have likely either the 33rd or 34th pick in the draft (the first or second pick in the second round). It would also be very tough for the Patriots to ask for a first-round pick now given the teams who are in need of a quarterback all will have high draft choices and there’s no way a team would trade a potential top-five or top-10 pick for Garoppolo.

Could the Patriots have received a first-round pick if they made it clear they were open for business this past offseason? Maybe. Could they have received a better offer this week if they would have waited another day and taken things right up until the deadline? Perhaps. But, Lynch noted how the Patriots are very direct and don’t beat around the bush. This is how the Patriots operate. They do not mess around, which does leave them vulnerable to sometimes not getting the maximum value.

In the end, the Patriots traded Garoppolo, the player they drafted No. 62 overall in 2014 for likely pick No. 33 or 34. Not bad value at all. Yes, other factors go into it and it isn’t just that simple math, but it puts things into perspective.

WHY 49ERS?

It’s hard to say exactly which teams were ever a possibility for Garoppolo, but from what we know the 49ers and Browns were both in the mix. On Kirk & Callahan Tuesday, Schefter offered some insight into why ultimately it was the 49ers.

“There are other little intangible factors in which San Francisco checked the box that I don’t think Cleveland would have,” he said. “I think they like the people out in San Francisco a lot. They have respect for them. It’s out of conference. They trust that place to do right by Jimmy and it’s not Cleveland, which once fired [Belichick]."

It’s hard to imagine the last part being true as the Patriots have made trades recently with the Browns, including the Jamie Collins deal just last year, but there is likely some truth of wanting to get Garoppolo out of the conference. The Patriots genuinely believe he will be a good NFL quarterback and want to ensure he doesn’t come back to hurt them down the road.

Also, there was likely some part of Belichick which wanted to put Garoppolo in a good place, as long as it didn’t impact his own team and he found it with the 49ers. Belichick mentioned how Garoppolo was getting a good coach in his opening statement, so it’s clear he’s a fan of Kyle Shanahan, and also he’s very friendly with Lynch, having coached him in New England.

It appears not only did Belichick want to do right for the Patriots, but given how much he likes Garoppolo, he wanted to make sure he was taken care of as well.

LONG-TERM FUTURE AT QUARTERBACK

This was a big decision and potentially a decision that went above Belichick. It would not be out of the question to learn one day owner Robert Kraft got involved, which could be what Belichick meant when he said, “there were many things involved in this whole process and, again, on a number of levels; way too many to get into at this time.” We all know how much Kraft loves Brady, so would it come as a complete shock to hear he told Belichick he couldn’t move on from him before he retired?

It also would not have been past Belichick to move on from Brady at some point if he started to slip even a little with Garoppolo waiting in the wings. Heck, even Brady himself has acknowledged that being possible.

Brady is currently signed through 2019 where he will turn 42 right before the season, but Brady has said he wants to play until his mid-40s. Belichick implied Brady is year-to-year, so perhaps the Patriots just do one-year deals after 2019 wth Brady until he retires — whenever that may be.

In the short-term, the Patriots will need to sign a quarterback to be Brady’s backup the rest of the season. All signs point to that being Brian Hoyer, but the Patriots need someone they can develop into Brady’s successor. 

Expect the Patriots to draft a quarterback high in the draft either in 2018 or 2019, so they can groom him for when Brady is gone. For what it’s worth, the 2018 quarterback class is said to be the best in several years.

CONCLUSION 

It’s abundantly clear Belichick and the Patriots loved Garoppolo, both the player and the person. The coach went out of his way to speak about him on the conference call when in the past he’s given the standard “we did what is best for the team” line after making a deal. He also said the Patriots had the best quarterback situation in the league the last 2.5 years, and when has he ever said something that complimentary about players on his team? Trading Garoppolo was a hard thing for Belichick to do, but he needed to do it. If he held on to him any longer he would be impacting the team by devoting a large sum to one position, which in turn would have an effect on the rest of the roster. Simply put, the Patriots drafted Brady’s successor too early, and in the end they got OK value for him, as we’ll never actually know just what the maximum value could have been because they never really made him up for bid.

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