As Jimmy G. preps for another NFC title game, we revisit his Patriot tenure


Jimmy Garoppolo has come a long way since his days as Tom Brady's heir apparent in New England.

Since being traded to the San Francisco 49ers in 2017, Garoppolo has established himself as a starting quarterback capable of leading a Super Bowl-caliber team. He's headed to his second NFC Championship game after taking down the Aaron Rodgers-led Green Bay Packers. He'll make his second Super Bowl start if the 49ers can defeat the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

Curran: Great Divisional Round games show how much work remains for Patriots

Injuries have haunted Garoppolo over the last few seasons. His 2018 campaign ended after only three games due to a torn ACL. A high ankle sprain ended his 2020 season after only six games. But when he's been healthy, Garoppolo has proven to be a solid fit in Kyle Shanahan's offense. The 49ers have made it to the NFC Championship in both of Garoppolo's full seasons with the team.

As we prepare for Garoppolo and the Niners to take on L.A., it's a good time to take a trip down memory lane. What led to Garoppolo's departure from Foxboro? How did he fare with the Patriots as a young signal-caller out of Eastern Illinois?

Let's take a look back at Garoppolo's Patriots tenure.

2014 NFL Draft

The Patriots raised some eyebrows when they selected Garoppolo in the second round (62nd overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft. But with Tom Brady entering his age 37 season, head coach Bill Belichick felt the need to put a succession plan into place.

Garoppolo became the Patriots' highest-drafted quarterback since they selected Drew Bledsoe first overall in 1993. While it was clear Brady wasn't handing over his job any time soon, New England was prepared in case the aging quarterback fell victim to father time. He never did, and he still hasn't to this day.

2014 and 2015 seasons

Garoppolo spent his first two seasons with the Patriots taking over for Brady in garbage time. He made his regular-season debut in the fourth quarter of New England's blowout Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. It was a nice first impression for the rookie as he led a scoring drive, connecting with tight end Rob Gronkowski for his first career touchdown pass. Garoppolo completed six of his seven pass attempts for 70 yards and a TD. He played in six total games as a rookie, completing 19 of 27 passes for 182 yards and the one TD.

In Year 2 of his NFL career, Garoppolo didn't see as much action. He completed one of four passes for six yards in five relief appearances.

2016: Jimmy G (briefly) replaces Brady

With Brady serving a four-game suspension due to the Deflategate controversy, the Patriots turned to Garoppolo as the next man up. He didn't disappoint.

Garoppolo made his first start in Week 1 of the 2016 campaign against the Arizona Cardinals. He led the Patriots to a 23-21 victory with an impressive performance, completing 24 of 33 passes for 264 yards and one TD.

Garoppolo was even better in Week 2 vs. the Miami Dolphins. He threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns before suffering a sprained AC joint on a hit by Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso. The injury kept Garoppolo sidelined the next two games, handing over the starting job to Jacoby Brissett until Brady returned in Week 5.

2017: The trade

Set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2018, Garoppolo was a subject of trade rumors throughout the 2017 offseason. The Patriots finally pulled the trigger on a deal on Oct. 31, 2017, sending Garoppolo to the 49ers in exchange for San Francisco's second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The move was met with a fair share of criticism. After all, Garoppolo had impressed when given the opportunity with the Patriots, and Brady wasn't getting any younger. Ultimately, perhaps begrudgingly, Belichick opted to stick with Brady rather than pay Garoppolo market value in the offseason. That decision would pay off as Brady went on to bring two more Lombardi trophies to Foxboro.

As for what the Patriots did with that Niners second-round selection, Belichick traded the pick (No. 43) to the Detroit Lions for a later second-round pick and a fourth-rounder. In classic Patriots fashion, those picks were traded for more picks, and there were more pick trades where that came from. We aren't about to go down that deep rabbit hole.

To simplify it all, here's a list of players the Patriots ended up with as a direct result of the Garoppolo trade:

Duke Dawson Jr., CB: The Patriots drafted Dawson out of Florida with their second-round pick in 2018. He never appeared in a game for New England and was dealt to the Denver Broncos in 2019 for a 2020 sixth-rounder.

Christian Sam, LB: A 2018 sixth-round pick who never played a game for the Patriots.

Joejuan Williams, CB: Williams was selected 45th overall in the 2019 draft. The Vanderbilt product remains on New England's active roster entering 2022.

Damien Harris, RB: A 2019 third-round pick out of Alabama, Harris has since taken over as the rock-solid lead back for the Patriots.

Yodny Cajuste, OT: Drafted out of West Virginia in the third round of the 2019 draft, Cajuste made his NFL debut in 2021 and appeared in seven games.

Jarrett Stidham, QB: Stidham was selected with a fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft and slotted in as Brady's new backup QB. The Auburn product was the team's third-string option in 2021 behind veteran Brian Hoyer.

Dalton Keene, TE: Keene, a 2020 third-round pick from Virginia Tech, appeared in six games as a rookie. He missed the entire 2021 season with a knee injury.

Justin Herron, OT: The 2020 sixth-rounder out of Wake Forest appeared in 12 games (six starts) as a rookie. He was a key contributor in 2021, appearing in all 16 games.

Contact Us