By Nathan Crepeau
As the Super Bowl confetti settles and the parties wind down, it’s time for Patriot’s nation to turn their attention to some big offseason storylines that could unfold in the next coming months. The biggest story line that we might see unfold leading up to the NFL draft on April 27th revolves around the man behind Tom Brady, Mr. Jimmy Garoppolo. As we’ve grown used to it happening here in New England, our backup quarterbacks usually become highly coveted items among other NFL teams trying to find some consistency of their own in the quarterback position. In the past, we’ve seen Matt Cassel, Brian Hoyer, and Ryan Mallett all hold the backup position behind Brady, and we’ve seen them all depart Foxboro one way or another. Maybe it’s because of the grooming they received under head Coach Bill Belichick that made them so desirable in the free agency and trade market of the NFL, or maybe other teams just simply hoped that some of Brady’s skill and work ethic rubbed off on them. Either way, is this year any different with current backup Jimmy Garoppolo, or is Jimmy in fact the chosen one who will fill the inevitable void as QB1 when Brady decides to retire?
For those fans who aren’t ready to think about life after Brady announces his retirement, you’re in luck. As we’ve seen over the past few years with Brady, his level of play is still second to none with no sign of it slowing down anytime soon. His current contract is set to go through the 2019 season where he’ll be 42 years old, and according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, the Patriots and Brady have had “early talks” in terms of a contract extension. The sheer notion that Brady’s camp and the Patriots are having contract extension talks leads us to believe they’re planning on Brady being around for at least another four to five more years. So, where does that leave us in terms of Jimmy’s future with the team? Well, it isn’t looking too good. After filling in for Brady during the deflategate suspension, Jimmy increased his stock value based on his performance and drew a lot of attention from other teams who are struggling in the QB department. If the plan is continuing to have Brady lead the way for the next four to five years, then it doesn’t make a lot of sense to keep Jimmy on the payroll. With Jimmy’s contract set to expire after the 2017 season, resigning Jimmy would be quite costly for the Patriots, especially for someone who will be standing on the sideline watching Brady for a few years. This leaves us with the question, what should the Patriots do with Jimmy then? The way it boils down, the Patriots have a few options.
The first and most talked about option is trading Jimmy to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for some of their draft picks. The Browns, who posted a 1-15 record on the season, hold the number one pick in this year’s draft along with two second round picks. I don’t see the Browns giving up that first pick in the draft, but I think a deal could make sense where the Browns give one if not both second round picks to New England in exchange for Jimmy. This trade would be beneficial for the Patriots, who could use these draft picks to help beef up the defensive line, or even use a pick to select a linebacker with the uncertainty of resigning Dont’a Hightower. If this trade were to happen, we’d see it go down before that April 27th draft date.
The other option the Patriots have with Jimmy in order to get something in return for him is the potential to do a deal with the 49ers. San Francisco, who recently hired former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as their new head coach, could be looking to bring in a new quarterback like Jimmy. The question with this deal is what do the Patriots get in return? Maybe the 49ers offer a few of their draft picks, but there is few, if any, current 49ers players who would be a great fit in the Patriots system.
Regardless of how the Patriots handle the Jimmy situation, it’s in their best interest to make a deal this offseason before losing him to unrestricted free agency. With Brady set to go another four to five years, the Patriots can’t afford to have Jimmy sitting on the sideline waiting for the day Brady retires. Having mastermind head coach and general manager Belichick, I think we can expect some deal to go down involving Jimmy, leaving the Patriots future Jimmy-less and leaving the quarterbacking duties up in the air for when Brady retires.