The trade sending Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots to the 49ers was finalized Tuesday morning, meaning the Niners now have their quarterback of the future — or so they hope. Garoppolo, who turns 26 years old this week, will finally escape the immense shadow of Tom Brady and soon get a regular chance to prove himself as an NFL starter.
Shortly after the deal was made official, Patriots coach Bill Belichick spoke to the media via conference call and addressed the trade that few saw coming.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jimmy. I couldn’t ask for him to give us any more than he has given us,” Belichick began. “The 49ers are getting a good player, they are getting a good person and they’re getting a great teammate and they are getting a good quarterback, and Jimmy is getting a good coach.
“His career is moving forward, he’s a talented individual. He is a great person to coach. I met with him weekly. As his career moves forward, we have to look at our team, this year and beyond. We probably had in my mind, the best quarterback situation in the league for the last 2 1/2 years. It is just not sustainable the way things are set up. Not something we wanted to walk away from. I felt we rode it out as long as we could, over a period of time, explored every option possible to sustain it. At this point, felt like we had to make a decision. Very complex situation on multiple levels. This is really the last window that we had, we did what we felt was best for the team. There were many things involved in this whole process.”
A lot of people were surprised that all it took to land the quarterback was a lone second-round pick, as the Patriots were reportedly asking for at least a first-rounder prior to this year’s NFL Draft. Several teams were interested in the young QB, though the club most linked to a potential Garoppolo deal was the Cleveland Browns. According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Cleveland wouldn’t offer New England a first-round pick.
The Patriots ultimately decided to hold onto their backup through the offseason, despite knowing that he was entering the final year of his contract and would be in for a big payday one way or another. According to SI’s Albert Breer, the Patriots were actually willing to give Garoppolo another contract — one that would pay him like a starter — to secure his services until Brady was ready to retire.
Unfortunately for New England, Garoppolo reportedly “made it clear he that wants to be a starter, not just a guy paid like one.” The Patriots couldn’t offer him the immediate playing time that other suitors would be able to, so Belichick & Co. either had to trade him while they could or ride out the season knowing he would likely walk away for nothing.
In stepped San Francisco, a team with the need and means to secure Garoppolo under center for the foreseeable future. They’re 0-8, lacking at quarterback and have plenty of money to play with. (An extension wasn’t worked into the trade, but the two sides reportedly have mutual interest in making it happen.) They have to be thrilled about the cost of acquisition, especially considering they still have four picks through the first three rounds of the 2018 draft.
As for the Pats, waiting to make the deal could have cost them in the return — the market isn’t particularly seller-friendly in the middle of the season — but they were clearly willing to extend their negotiating window with Garoppolo for as long as they could. Though they ultimately couldn’t keep him around, holding off on a deal until now allowed them to identify a destination that would essentially guarantee them a high second-round pick while minimizing the amount of time that Garoppolo could help his new team improve.
Belichick might sound torn about having to make this deal, but don’t forget he loves getting his hands on high second-round picks because it allows him to draft first-round talent without paying first-round money. He may be more pleased than he’s leading on.
And fantasy owners in need of a quarterback might have a new option going forward.