There are many reasons why the Patriots should and should not trade Jimmy Garoppolo. What should the Pats do?
On July 15, 2016, Tom Brady announced on his Facebook page that he would no longer proceed with the legal process in the “Deflategate” case and he would accept the four game suspension. When this happened, there were serious doubts that the Patriots could overcome his suspension and go on to win their fifth Super Bowl. “Deflategate” seemed destined to be something that would forever haunt the Patriots organization. Looking back on it now, it ended up being a good thing for the Patriots. They won the Super Bowl despite Brady’s suspension, and got to see what they have in Jimmy Garoppolo.
When Garoppolo stepped in, he looked great right from the first drive against Arizona all the way up until he got injured against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2. In his first two starts, he played as if he had been in the league for 10 years. In those six quarters, he completed 71.2% of his passes for 496 yards, four touchdowns, no picks, and a passer rating of 119.0. Otherworldly numbers for a guy who had never started an NFL game before.
Garoppolo’s play put the Patriots in a situation that every team wishes they were in. With a handful of teams reportedly interested in trading for Garoppolo, should the Patriots trade him or hold on to him just in case Tom Brady’s play falls off sooner than expected? Let’s take a look at both cases.
The Case For Trading Garoppolo:
Tom Brady, in his age 39 season, completed 67.4% of his passes for 3,554 yards, 28 touchdowns, two picks, and a 112.2 passer rating in only 12 games. Combine this with the unique training regimen he utilizes and the fact that he wants to play into his mid-40’s, it is hard to see him slowing down anytime soon.
With that being said, do the Patriots really want a very valuable asset being wasted on the bench for the entire season? Garoppolo will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2017 season and it will likely take a Brock Osweiler type contract (4 years, $72 million with $36 million guaranteed) to retain him. It wouldn’t be good use of cap space for the Patriots to have Brady with a $22 million cap hit in 2018 and Garoppolo who would have a projected $12 million cap hit in 2018 (going off of Osweiler’s deal). With the Patriots not likely to offer a market contract as long as Brady is still around, they would end up losing him for nothing in free agency.
From this standpoint, trading him for even a 3rd round pick would make sense. The Bears, 49ers, and Browns all have the draft capital to land Garoppolo in a trade. If the worst-case scenario pops up where the best offer is the Bears 3rd round pick (67th overall), that is still a trade the Patriots should make because it is better than letting Garoppolo walk away for nothing in free agency.
If this happens, the Patriots still have Brady for a few more years, they have an extra draft pick, and they have Jacoby Brissett being groomed Brady’s successor.
The Case Against Trading Garoppolo
Although all signs point towards Brady playing at an elite level for another 2-4 years, it is hard to predict when Father Time will decide to impose his wrath on someone. Look no further than what happened recently to Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.
|Favre’s stats in 2009 at age 40||68.4 completion %, 4202 yards, 33 TD, 7 Int, 107.2 passer rating in 16 games|
|Favre’s stats in 2010 at age 41||60.6 completion %, 2509 yards, 11 TD, 19 Int, 69.9 passer rating in 13 games|
|Manning’s stats in 2014 at age 38||66.2 completion %, 4727 yards, 39 TD, 15 Int, 101.5 passer rating in 16 games|
|Manning’s stats in 2015 at age 39||59.8 completion %, 2249 yards, 9 TD, 17 Int, 67.9 passer rating in 10 games|
This massive decline from elite quarterback to one of the worst in football is something that could happen to Brady at any time. On top of that, the history of quarterbacks playing on an elite level at age 40 is not favorable. Favre is the only one to ever pull it off and no quarterback has ever performed at an elite level past the age of 40.
Considering these factors, trading Garoppolo is too risky of a move. Garoppolo is the key to the Patriots being competitive long after Brady is gone and to punt that possibility for a draft pick that may or may not pan out is not the right move. Even if the Patriots do lose him for nothing after the 2017 season, that is less painful of a result than losing a franchise quarterback after Brady declined faster than expected.
There is also a scenario in which they can put the franchise tag on him next offseason and either keep him or trade him on the tag. This would delay the process by a year, allowing Belichick and his staff to have a better read on the situation than they do now.
While a draft pick will be lost in this scenario, the potential for having the next franchise quarterback will not be lost.
Ultimately, the answer to this question is entirely dependent on the potential return in a deal for Garoppolo. As of right now, the Patriots seem to feel that way as well, based on these two tweets from Adam Schefter and Mary Kay Cabot:
In a move that will have a ripple effect on all QB-needy teams, Patriots are not expected to trade QB Jimmy Garoppolo, per league sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 1, 2017
This suggests the Patriots are not happy with the offers they have gotten, so they leak out to Schefter that they aren’t expected to trade him to drive up the price. With the Browns, 49ers, and Bears the main teams in the race, it suggests that those teams have only offered 2nd round picks to this point.
The only offer the Patriots should accept in a deal for Garoppolo is one that includes a first round pick from either of these teams. It is highly unlikely that the Browns, 49ers, and Bears would trade their first round picks to get Garoppolo because they are all picking in the top three overall. However, the Browns own the Eagles pick, which is the 12th overall pick in the draft. If the Browns are willing to trade this, the Patriots need to make this move.
While it’s very risky to move Garoppolo for the reasons detailed above, it is well worth the risk to acquire the 12th pick in the draft. When picking at this spot in the draft, it gives the Patriots a chance to land a young, talented player that can immediately contribute to bringing the Patriots another Lombardi trophy.
Here is the list of players who were drafted 12th overall since 2004: Jonathan Vilma, Shawne Merriman, Haloti Ngata, Marshawn Lynch, Ryan Clady, Knowshon Moreno, Ryan Matthews, Christian Ponder, Fletcher Cox, D.J Hayden, Odell Beckham, Danny Shelton, Sheldon Rankins. Those 13 players have combined for 26 Pro Bowl’s, six 1st-Team All-Pro appearances, nine 2nd-Team All-Pro appearances, and three Super Bowl titles.
When you combine the Patriots’ great ability to draft and develop players with the fact that eight of the last 13 players picked at #12 have made Pro Bowls, it gives the Patriots a really good chance to find an impact player with that pick.
This is the only scenario in which the Patriots should give up Garoppolo. The only other realistic offers would be 2nd round picks, which don’t have nearly the success rate that the 12th pick in the draft does. The Patriots should be in no rush to make this move. If the Browns are willing to give them #12, great. If not, they can sit tight with Garoppolo and see what the future holds.
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