NFL rumors: Patriots called about Jimmy Garoppolo and other available quarterbacks

Conventional wisdom says that despite all the rumors, the 49ers will bring back Jimmy Garoppolo as their starting quarterback in 2021. But that doesn’t mean his phone hasn’t been ringing.

The New England Patriots, who need a starting quarterback after their failed experiment with Cam Newton, “have had discussions about all the potential trade candidates in the league,” Athletic’s Jeff Howe reported Monday, citing sources.

According to Howe, the Patriots spoke to the Detroit Lions about Matthew Stafford and the Philadelphia Eagles about Carson Wentz, but they weren’t in the running for either quarterback. The price it cost the Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis Colts to acquire the aforementioned quarterbacks has tipped the business market toward sellers, and the Patriots, according to Howe, are taking a cautious approach.

But the Patriots have “answered the phone” of any quarterbacks who may be available, according to Howe, including Garoppolo, Sam Darnold, Deshaun Watson and Marcus Mariota.

The Patriots selected Garoppolo in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft with head coach Bill Belichick hoping that Garoppolo would take over from Tom Brady. Brady, of course, kept kicking Father Time in the teeth and eventually the Patriots were forced to trade Garoppolo, sending him to the 49ers midway through the 2017 NFL season.

Brady, of course, left the chilly New England winters in his rearview mirror last season when he decided to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 49ers decided to move on from adding the 43-year-old legend. While 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was able to go the path Belichick desired by choosing Garoppolo over Brady, that decision could have backfired in hindsight.

Although the 49ers didn’t think Brady had much left in the tank, Brady proved them wrong, as he played at a near-elite level as he led the Bucs to a Super Bowl victory over the Chiefs. The icing on the ice cream in hindsight is that Brady’s triumph came just 12 months after the 49ers failed to defeat Kansas City in Super Bowl LIV.

As Brady led the Bucs to a title, the Patriots went 7-9 and their passing attack was one of the most ineffective in the league.

RELATED: Jimmy G’s Patriots reunion only happens in two unlikely scenarios

The 49ers have quarterback carousel spectators the past two offseason, but have been careful not to go all-in with a quarterback who was not a sure improvement over Garoppolo. Brady would have been, and even then, they passed.

There’s no question that the Patriots would love to bring Garoppolo back to 1 Patriot Place. But that only happens if the 49ers find a way to improve on the 13-3 quarterback who led them to a Super Bowl two seasons ago, which is easier said than done.

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