Tomase: Ghost of Jimmy G. already haunting Patriots, and it's only going to get worse

John Tomase
March 12, 2018 - 1:01 pm
Jimmy Garoppolo

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today Sports


Jimmy Garoppolo is gone. But his Making the Patriots Miserable tour has only just begun.

The NFL offseason doesn't even get cranking until free agency starts on Wednesday, and already Garoppolo is negatively impacting his former team.

Think of it like the butterfly effect, except in this case the butterfly can identify the Mike and hit a tight window 20 yards downfield on the run.

Garoppolo's presence in San Francisco has altered the offseason landscape in ways that are directly impacting the Patriots, and it's only going to get worse. Consider some moves we've seen thus far and how they relate to the Pats.

Start with Aqib Talib. The Pro Bowl corner wanted to be released so he could sign with the Patriots, according to multiple reports. The Broncos preferred to trade him and had a deal worked out with the 49ers, but Talib blew it up by threatening not to report.

The Broncos shifted their attention to the Rams, whose defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, had Talib in Denver. Talib considered L.A. an acceptable landing spot and the deal was done.

How does Garoppolo factor into this? It's fair to say the Rams' need for an upgrade at corner was exacerbated by the arrival of a potentially elite QB within the division. Would they have traded for Talib even without Jimmy G.? Perhaps. But Garoppolo's presence made it more of a necessity than, say, whoever takes snaps in Arizona next year.

So scratch Talib off the list for the Pats.

The same goes for Richard Sherman. The Seahawks corner has been the best at his position since 2011, but after rupturing his Achilles' in November, was deemed expendable. Sherman made clear his priorities in choosing a new home in an interview with Chief among them: a great quarterback.

No disrespect to C.J. Beathard, but he didn't move that needle. His replacement in San Francisco, however, does. Sherman made one visit to the 49ers and never left, agreeing to a three-year, incentive-laden deal that could pay him $39 million. The Patriots apparently never called, but if they were hoping to bargain hunt or pitch Sherman on playing alongside Tom Brady via a Darrelle Revis-style one-year deal, they never got the chance. Garoppolo made sure of that.

There's more. At some point soon, free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins is going to find a new home. He has reportedly narrowed his choices to the Vikings and Jets, though others believe the Broncos could still entice him.

Before the Garoppolo deal, San Francisco was considered a frontrunner if Cousins entered free agency. Head coach Kyle Shanahan was Cousins' first offensive coordinator in Washington, and the two have a good relationship. Garoppolo eliminates that possibility, obviously.

So instead, Cousins now considers two teams that could directly influence the Patriots. The Jets are a division rival who've given New England trouble even with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown under center. Cousins would be the first legitimate QB to play in the division since Brett Favre a decade ago. Winning the AFC East might become a free throw instead of a layup, and that would just be year one.

Even worse would be Denver. Tom Brady hasn't been able to win there even at his best, but as long as the Broncos are trotting out the Trevor Siemians of the world, they'll be a non-factor. A quarterback like Cousins would put them back in contention. The last thing the Patriots want to see is a dangerous Broncos team.

For now, at least, the Vikings are considered the favorites to land Cousins, but the Jets are reportedly prepared to offer fully guaranteed money. Had Cousins signed in San Francisco, none of this would even be a possibility.

Patriots fans probably even felt the sting of a deal that had nothing to do with Jimmy G. Last week, the Browns traded a third-round pick to the Bills for Tyrod Taylor. Tyrod Taylor! He was so lousy last year, the Bills benched him in favor of Nathan Peterman, who promptly threw five interceptions in the first half of his first game, necessitating Taylor's immediate return.

Cleveland surrendered the first pick of the third round, No. 65 overall. That's only 22 picks later than the second-rounder (No. 43) the Patriots ended up receiving for Garoppolo. Hopefully this puts to bed the lie that Cleveland or someone else wouldn't have stepped up for Jimmy G. Had the Patriots franchised him, they clearly would've had options to trade him right now. The return they received will never be nearly enough.

All of this, and we haven't even mentioned the primary way Garoppolo will haunt us -- if Belichick decides to hang 'em up early because he wasn't allowed to keep Brady's successor.

In any event, get used to this, because the Haunting of Patriot Place has just begun. Garoppolo could be tormenting the Pats for the next 10 years.

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