Making sense of the Jimmy Garoppolo stunner


Pried your jaw off the floor? Returned your eyeballs to their sockets? Let's get to the questions that are flying around now that the Patriots have sent Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers.

Why now?

The presumption has been that the Patriots would franchise Garoppolo at the end of the season, then deal him. Even though the $24 million franchise cost for a quarterback was prohibitive, the Patriots would employ some imaginative accounting and find a way to fit Garoppolo under the cap until they could move him. But the way it was shaping up, the franchise/trade option would have tied the Patriots hands in free agency. Multiple restructures and/or releases were going to be necessary and it would have put the Patriots behind in free-agent pursuit because Garoppolo would still be on the books.


What about the bounty they could have had?

A second-round pick? That's all? A player who some forecasted could be worth two first-round picks or more only pulls a second-round pick in exchange for his services? That feels like a major sacrifice by the Patriots. And what did they get in exchange? If there truly were multiple first-round picks on the table for Garoppolo in April and now, six months later, all they got from him was a few preseason appearances and eight games of back up duty, that's not what anyone would be able to call value. Jacoby Brissett could have just as easily done what Garoppolo has been doing since the beginning of September. I could've done what Garoppolo's been doing. This to me is what is most confusing. The franchise that has so often hoarded draft picks and spoken about value just left a gorgeous asset on their front lawn with a "Make an Offer" sign on the windshield. 

What does it mean for Brady?

With Jimmy G. there will be no showdown at noon for the starting quarterback position. All the time we spent, all the air we blew, every keystroke on every article and email that presaged Tom Brady's famous final scene is now for naught. Brady wins. He is signed through 2019 at which point he'll be 42 years old. The Patriots almost certainly won't move on from him before then (I've been wrong before) and he will then have the luxury of deciding if he wants to continue past his 20th NFL season. At that point, Rob Gronkowski's and Julian Edelman's contracts will also be up. It has always seemed a likely time for a dismount.

What did we learn? 

For more than a year the Patriots have been considering the economic wisdom of franchising Garoppolo and keeping Brady. That was definitely on the table. But while there were conversations with Cleveland that were reported around the draft, it's reasonable now to doubt that what they were offering was as generous as people believed. Or if it was as concrete. This was the last chance the Patriots had to trade Garoppolo before they had to either franchise him or lose him. After 4 PM Tuesday, he was walking for nothing or costing them $24 million. We all know how shrewd Bill Belichick is. Did he just get exponentially dumber over the last six months? Doubtful. There will be a lot of reasonable puzzling as to whether the Patriots got enough for Jimmy. In trade compensation, probably not. All they got was what they gave up. The second round pick. But when you think of what he represented: The ghost of Brady's football future - Younger, faster, more handsome. His presence kicked Brady into overdrive. And an unimaginable three-season stretch which included two Super Bowl wins ensued. In some ways, Jimmy G. was one of the most important Patriots of the Bellichick era.


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