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Hannable: Patriots go all-in with Tom Brady after shocking Jimmy Garoppolo trade

Ryan Hannable
October 31, 2017 - 6:49 am

With all he’s accomplished in his 18 years in the league, even Tom Brady knew there was a chance one day the Patriots and Bill Belichick potentially could move on from him.

He’s been around long enough to see the Lawyer Milloy, Logan Mankins, Jamie Collins, etc. moves to realize anything can happen and no one is ever safe if not living up to expectations, especially with a high salary.

"You can't be around this long and not realize that the world will keep spinning and the sun will come up tomorrow without you,” Brady said last November. “That's just the way it goes. I think you enjoy just what you -- the experiences that you have and then also understand it just keeps going on. It could happen to anybody. You just have to show up for work, do the best you can do everyday and let your performance just speak for yourself."

But, following the Patriots’ surprising trade of Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers on Monday, it all but ensures Brady will be finishing his career in New England. 

The thought was Garoppolo was the quarterback of the future and one day the organization would need to make a decision whether to stay with Brady or move on to Garoppolo, especially considering Brady has said he wants to play at least until his mid-40s.

The trade indicates the Patriots believe the 40-year-old can give them at least two more years until his contract expires at the end of 2019, and potentially more. By trading Garoppolo, the Patriots show they believe in Brady even with the poor track records of quarterbacks once they hit 40, and the sudden drop off which typically takes place. 

Appearing on Westwood One with Jim Gray at halftime of Monday Night Football, Brady was asked how he felt about the organization showing confidence in him long-term, but he didn’t want to go there.

“Well, I don’t know what that means,” he said. “This is a week-to-week league. Things change so quickly from week-to-week, year-to-year. Everyone is considered, in my mind this is all about this season and us trying to win. I am trying to do the best I can do for our team like I always do and I am going to bring it every single day, like I’ve tried to do for the last 18 years. 

“I am focused on this season and I am sure that’s where everyone else in our organization is focused. We have a bye week this week and we are going to go out and try to win next week.”

The quarterback position is the most important position in all of sports and the Patriots had two good ones in Brady and Garoppolo when most teams struggle to find one. By trading away Garoppolo, clearly the Patriots are clearly putting all their eggs in the 40-year-old’s basket.

It’s a risky move as the thought was Garoppolo wasn’t traded in the offseason just because of how important the quarterback position is and if Brady were to get hurt, they would have someone highly capable ready to step in. Now that he’s gone, the Patriots are essentially left with no one besides Brady. Just say the 40-year-old were to get hurt this year or next, New England would be in big trouble. 

According to ESPN’s Adam Scheffer, the Patriots and Garoppolo started contract discussions in the spring and the team didn’t feel they would be able to re-sign him, which led to the trade. 

This likely indicates the Patriots were not willing to pay Garoppolo upwards of $20 million per year, like a NFL starter would get on the open market, and devote almost $40 million to one position. If the Patriots would have thrown that kind of money at Garoppolo, it’s hard to imagine him turning it down, but it also would be a bad look paying Garoppolo more than Brady, who has a base salary of $14 million next year. 

Also, the Patriots could have placed the franchise tag on him for 2018 and either played the year out with him making around $20 million and re-evaluating things after next season, or trade him in the offseason like they did with Matt Cassel in 2009. (That would of course mean having close to $40 million being paid to two quarterbacks as well.)

Long-term, the Patriots now must find Brady’s replacement, which likely means selecting a quarterback high in the draft one of the next two seasons because it’s hard to imagine Brady playing much longer than his mid-40s and New England needs time to develop whoever that may be.

As we all know, finding a good young quarterback is extremely hard and for the Patriots it’s even harder knowing this player likely will be the one replacing Brady. Another risky move considering they had that player already in place, albeit a few years too early.

With Brady, it’s a unique situation given how close he is with the team and owner Robert Kraft, and some might think the Patriots are going more with their heart opposed to the best decision for the organization by saying they are sticking with Brady for multiple more years now, but the quarterback has continued to prove everyone wrong these last few seasons and what is there to show the next couple years and even beyond will be any different?

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