Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo

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Tomase: That's it?!? Trying to make sense of strange timing, meager return of Jimmy Garoppolo trade

John Tomase
October 30, 2017 - 11:20 pm
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Listen, they're the Patriots, so the player they take with San Francisco's second-round pick will probably end up in Canton. But for now, we're allowed to go, "Huh?"

Trading Jimmy Garoppolo is shocking enough on its own merits. It makes you wonder why the Pats bothered keeping him in the first place, especially since, depending on whom you believe, they received offers of multiple first-round picks for him last spring.

But trading him for a second-rounder now, without receiving a player who can help a flawed defense, seems insane, especially since it leaves the Patriots without a backup quarterback. This was always going to be Tom Brady's team, but now there's nowhere to turn if he takes a shot to the side of the knee. Or head.

The Patriots refused to trade Garoppolo all spring and summer for a reason. With Brady turning 40 in August, an NFL-ready backup who understood the team's system was a must. And besides, even if you decided to move on, Garoppolo could be traded this offseason after being franchised.

The counterargument made some sense, too. Trade Garoppolo before this year's draft and give Brady more weapons to make a run at Super Bowl No. 6. If you were planning to ride TB12 into the sunset (or ground), might as well load up while you could.

Option A always made more sense to me, since no quarterback in history has managed to avoid falling off a cliff at age 41. With Garoppolo on the roster, the Patriots were covered not just this year, but maybe for the next 10. Yeah, they'd have to work out the money after franchising him, but even at $24 million, Garoppolo remained eminently tradeable.

The Patriots had already pulled this trick once, franchising Matt Cassel in 2009 before sending him to Kansas City with linebacker Mike Vrabel for a second-rounder. That return always felt meager, especially when we learned the Broncos desperately wanted in on the action, but arrived too late to the party. Left unsaid: why hadn't the Pats reached out to Denver and new head coach Josh McDaniels in the first place?

This feels similar. When training camp started, the Patriots had two quarterbacks of the future. They shipped Jacoby Brissett to the Colts for underachieving wideout Philip Dorsett, a trade that has borne less fruit than the dead pumpkin patches on Stranger Things.

Now Garoppolo is gone for a second-rounder, which feels like nothing, doesn't help this year's team, leaves no one in the pipeline after Brady, and renders the will-they-or-won't-they of the last nine months egregiously pointless.

This simply doesn't make sense. So why did the Patriots do it?

They clearly didn't believe they could sign Garoppolo to an extension that would fit him comfortably under their cap, and they must've had doubts about their ability to accommodate the $24 million it would take to franchise him even temporarily. Perhaps it would've limited their ability to strike at the start of free agency (though it should be noted that they traded Cassel on March 1, 2009).

But let's be real. Those problems felt surmountable. Worst-case scenario, the Patriots franchised Garoppolo and then traded him for a second-rounder, like they're doing now. That would've bought them another eight games of protection behind Brady, who's already battling a sore left shoulder and wearing a knee brace. It also would've given them more time to reach an extension agreement with Garoppolo, even if talks had reportedly stalled.

Now they get very little for their investment beyond a refund of the pick used to take him in the first place. That seems like woeful mismanagement of a prime asset, and we don't say that kind of thing about the Patriots very often.

But the truth is the truth and this feels ill-conceived. So say goodbye to Jimmy G., the dimpled quarterback of the future. We have no idea why he was here for so long to begin with if this is how it was going to end.

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