…the one where we here in this space insisted for quite some time that the New England Patriots’ plan for the quarterback position was to have Jimmy Garoppolo take over the starting job by the start of the 2019 season. Tom Brady will turn 42 in the 2019 preseason and really, how much further can he go? I know, he talks about playing into his mid-40s and takes care of himself and blah, blah, blah. But there simply isn’t any kind of track record of QB’s performing at a high level after age 40. What makes Brady (and anyone else) think he will be different?
I say this often about players, but it’s certainly valid: I don’t know if Garoppolo can actually play QB in the NFL at a high level. Or even at an average level. Sure, he looked pretty good for 6 quarters at the beginning of 2016. He also didn’t play the other 2 games of Brady’s suspension due to injury and many people believed that he could have sucked it up and played…at least the last one after missing one week. So that could be viewed as a little bit of a red flag. But who really knows if he was the real deal?
You know who did think he was a sure thing though? Bill Belichick.
Now, Bill has obviously never said that publicly. But you can tell by his actions. He hung on to him all of this time. He apparently tried to re-sign him to some sort of “bridge” deal covering the time until (ideally) Brady retired. Hell, he originally drafted him higher than most people thought Jimmy G would go. And also drafted him when Brady theoretically had plenty of “life” left. Add in the comments Bill made in his press conference earlier Tuesday, seemingly not happy to have traded Garoppolo. And the fact that Belichick most likely would have loved to try to win a Super Bowl post-Brady. I think all of this and then some means Bill thought he was the next guy.
Because of all of that, I believed that Jimmy Football was the next guy. Again, who knows, since he really hasn’t played many meaningful snaps? But from the above with Belichick and also trusting Bill knows what he has seen in practice for the past three and a half years, I had to go with that theory, right?
So that all being said, the Blowhard does not like the deal. Other reasons? You got it, in no particular order:
*Only a second rounder in return? Seems light. IS light. People are now saying that Cleveland did not offer a first and some other compensation over the spring/summer as has been reported widely all along. Who knows what reports are accurate? But you’d have to believe they would have gotten more than just a second rounder if they shopped Jimmy G this past offseason. I see at the deadline that Cincinnati almost dealt their backup QB, AJ McCarron, to Cleveland for a 2nd and 3rd rounder. McCarron has played a few more games in the NFL than Garoppolo. But not since 2015. Probably puts them in the same ballpark as to what to expect for compensation. Side note: Glad to see that the Browns screwed things up again by filing late paperwork and not getting the McCarron deal done. Great work.
*Why now? Sure, they get a pick in the low 30’s in 2018. Instead of perhaps a pick in the high 90’s in 2019 (as a result of the compensatory pick process if they consummated a trade after this season). Yeah, that’s a 60ish spot difference and a year earlier. But who cares? Bill is going to turn that 2nd rounder into a third and two fourths at some point anyway. It’s not like they got a top-10 pick. What happens if something happens to Brady this year? After all, he is getting crushed every week. It could be a matter of time before he goes down.
*Speaking of something happening to Brady, what happens if his play falls off a cliff next year? Not unheard of at that age. And the Pats then will have traded the “future” a year or so too early.
*Why now, Part II? The Patriots could have franchise tagged Jimmy after this year and then dealt him off of that tag if they so desired. Once again, you would think that he would demand more compensation than a second rounder in the offseason. When you could market him more. One year at huge dollars would not scare teams off. Including the 49ers, whom reports indicate have a ton of cap space available. Plus, the team that acquires him could work out a long-term deal which would work better for that franchise. And probably Jimmy himself.
*I believe Patriot owner Robert Kraft called the shot on this one. Why? Because in a situation like the QB one, Belichick ALWAYS opts for the younger player eventually. Because, you know, that makes too much sense. I know, as an owner, I suppose Kraft should have final say in everything. Since he is footing the bill overall. And I know, Brady is clearly a special case here. It’s one thing to trade guys like Mike Vrabel, Logan Mankins or Richard Seymour…or release a guy like Lawyer Milloy. It’s completely different when you are talking about one of the best to ever play the game. Delicate situation, no question.
But one also has to think about the football team on the field. And you can bet that keeping Brady for the short-term over Garoppolo for the long-term has to do with business…something that is the owner’s right…but something that as a fan I hate.
When an owner gets too involved in any teams’ on the field decisions, it makes me think of Jerry Jones. Not positive. But it also brings me back to the days when Kraft was using a stopwatch to time Tebucky Jones. I’m all set with owners meddling too much with the on the field product. Even if Kraft doesn’t really do that any more. And even if it is only this one case. Let the football people make the football decisions.
*Why now, Part III. Wouldn’t it have made some sense to keep Jacoby Brissett if they had an idea that maybe Jimmy would have to be traded at some point? Brissett has looked competent, at the very least, for the Colts after getting traded there right before the season. Maybe he looks even better if he had a whole preseason and offseason with the team and not getting thrown into the fire there right from the start…on a bad team, no less. Maybe long-term Brissett can’t play either. But he sure would be nice to have right this second.
*It amazes me that the Patriots obviously banked a little bit on Jimmy signing that “bridge” deal mentioned above. Something like a 2 or 3 year deal for good money, but not starters money for sure. But why would Garoppolo do that? He’s in his 4th year here. He has 2 Super Bowl rings already. He hasn’t made a ton of money. And of course hasn’t played much. Why would he want to wait another 1-5 years to take over this team? I would think he wants to play…and of course get a fat second contract. We all wanted Jimmy G to take a contract that benefited the team. But if you were in his shoes, would you? Ultimately, he wants to play. And if I had a backup QB on my team that DIDN’T want to play, I wouldn’t want him on my team. I don’t blame him one bit. I just can’t believe that the Pats thought they could pull that kind of contract off with him.
So we will see what happens from here. San Francisco is 0-8. Maybe Jimmy G goes there and is putrid and then has an average career after his stock drops. Maybe Brian Hoyer comes here as a backup to Brady, Brady gets hurt and then the Patriots ride Hoyer to another Super Bowl win. Maybe Jimmy Football is like every other highly touted Patriot backup QB that never makes it…Ryan Mallett, Rohan Davey, Kevin O’Connell, Matt Cassel et al…including Hoyer himself. Maybe the Pats use that SF pick on a QB from next year’s supposedly deep draft at the position, Brady plays 2 more years at a high level and then that pick takes over and wins games and Super Bowls. Or maybe Brady plays at a high level until his Social Security kicks in.
We just don’t know. But on the surface, there doesn’t seem to be a lot to like about this deal.
The “all-important” third preseason game has been played. Great time to make another projection, since no regulars will really play in the fourth preseason game. No regulars that count anyway. A new wrinkle this year though is that there is no cut down to 75 players. The entire 90 man roster of each NFL team will be able to play in those teams’ final preseason game on Thursday night. Then a day and a half later, the rosters will be slashed to the regular season limit of 53. It’ll be a crowded waiver wire on Saturday afternoon. Good thing I don’t have to sift through all those names. Anyway, here goes:
Locks: Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett
Way Out: None
Comments: Haven’t heard much lately about Brissett’s roster spot being in jeopardy. I still don’t see that being the case anyway. I suppose if he stinks Thursday night…
Locks: Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, James White, Dion Lewis
In: James Develin, Brandon Bolden
Out: D.J. Foster, Glenn Gronkowski
Way Out: LeShun Daniels
Comments: Six running backs is pretty steep. But I think they will find room for Bolden, as much as that pains me. They love him too much on special teams. And in a pinch they think he can play a little RB. People seem to be throwing Lewis’ name out there for trade consideration, and although that wouldn’t surprise me, I don’t know if that’s realistic. I mean, he has talent, but is injury-prone. So who’s going to give the Pats anything for him? And he can fill a nice role here anyway. Side note: it was great seeing White get tripped up by the yard lines in the last game again. I know, he was awesome in the Super Bowl. All the props in the world to him for that. But has anyone seen the rest of the games in his career?
Locks: Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola
Out: Austin Carr, Devin Lucien
Way Out: Cody Hollister, K.J. Maye, Tony Washington
Injured Reserve: Malcolm Mitchell (designated to return), Julian Edelman (out for the season)
Comments: In the original projection I said this position was pretty much set in stone. Oops. Tough deal with Edelman. He was flying out of the gate in that last game. Looked primed for another big year, even with the addition of Cooks. He is Brady’s main man, after all. Going to be a tough loss on third downs especially. But…every team has key injuries, so what can ya do? Hope that opens the door for Cooks to really light it up. But it’s a good thing that Amendola is back. Makes him a lock now. Mitchell was brought along slowly in camp because of a knee injury. Then it looked to me that he aggravated it in the second preseason game. No one is really talking about it, but he didn’t play in the last game. I feel like he is a candidate for one of the two IR-designated to return spots that NFL teams have this year. Get that thing fully healthy for the stretch drive.
That leave three guys there…obviously kind of lean. People may say that guarantees a spot for Carr or Lucien, but I’m not there yet. These guys seem to be perfect practice squad guys…if they clear waivers at cut downs that is. The Pats dressed only 3 receivers in several games last year. I think they may do it again early on if Mitchell ends up on IR. Matthew Slater can play WR in a pinch, though I don’t really want to see him there. But more importantly, one of the extra backs could always line up there too. Then it allows the team to carry a third TE or extra lineman or someone at another spot.
Locks: Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen
Out: James O’Shaughnessy, Jacob Hollister
Way Out: Sam Cotton
Released: Matt Lengel
Comments: Still feel like the Pats start with 2 tight ends. Develin could play there in a pinch as well as an offensive lineman, likely Cameron Fleming, who they have put there repeatedly…though not necessarily with positive results. They are probably hoping Hollister gets to the practice squad. But when Lengel heals (out for several more weeks with injury they are saying), they could always pick him back up. Possibly O’Shaughnessy as well. Not really worth talking about the third TE much more.
Locks: Nate Solder (LT), Joe Thuney (LG), David Andrews (C), Shaq Mason (RG), Marcus Cannon (RT)
In: Ted Karras (G/C), Conor McDermott (T), Cameron Fleming (T), LaAdrian Waddle (T)
Out: Jamil Douglas (G), James Ferentz (C)
Way Out: Cole Croston (T), Andrew Jelks (T), Jason King (G), Max Rich (T)
Injured Reserve: Antonio Garcia (T) (designated to return?)
Comments: The starters are set in stone, though Solder has been managing an injury. Which forces me to put both Fleming and Waddle back on at the start of the season, for insurance. As well as Fleming’s experience at TE. Again, feel like they want to hang on to McDermott, so the thinking is they need to keep him initially before trying to waive him to the practice squad after teams have their rosters set the first week. I have no idea if he can play, but I feel like Dante Scarnecchia will want to try to take those physical tools and try to develop him into something. Douglas was the last guy I cut and I really know nothing about him…other than that they could use an extra guard probably. I suppose it’s not life or death…especially if he lands on the practice squad. Garcia has been a ghost…but as a third round pick, I believe he may be the other candidate for the “IR-return” spot. Dante may want to work on developing him as well…and not lose practice time by having him go on long-term IR. But maybe they save the IR-return spot for someone who gets a long-term injury early in the year…and will actually be a factor at some point THIS year…and put Garcia on ice for the year. He won’t be able to practice, but at least he can study the playbook.
Locks: Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, Geneo Grissom
Way Out: Michael Bart
Injured Reserve: Derek Rivers (out for the season)
Released: Kony Ealy, Caleb Kidder
Comments: Welp, I suppose those early in camp rumors about Ealy were spot on. Guess I should listen more. But just…wow. The guy can’t get his act together to play for the Patriots? In a contract year? Inexplicable. I suppose he got what he “asked” for. Getting claimed by the New York Jets after he was waived. I wonder how he feels now? Probably still doesn’t care.
Losing Rivers is a blow. No idea how good he is or can be. But now the team is down to three defensive ends…and one is essentially a special teamer in Grissom. Some people are clamoring for a Rob Ninkovich return. Not me. With all due respect, he is probably close to done. Even though some of the linebackers here can pretty much cover some of the depth issues here, I expect the team to look hard through the cuts this upcoming weekend and nab a guy or two. I would think they have to. And I’m not counting on big things from Michael Bart, who was just signed yesterday.
Locks: Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine
In: Adam Butler
Out: Woodrow Hamilton, Darius Kilgo
Way Out: Josh Augusta
Comments: Elevated Butler from “way out” in version #1 to “In” now. Why? Seemed like a good idea at the time. He’s gotten some buzz and Belichick does love his fat guys. Maybe he’s a guy they keep on the initial 53 and then try to slide to the practice squad after teams set their rosters. Either way, there’s no need to talk about it more. The rest is still cut and dried here, as noted in the first projection.
Locks: Dont’a Hightower
In: David Harris, Shea McClellin, Elandon Roberts, Kyle Van Noy, Harvey Langhi, Jonathan Freeny
Out: Trevor Bates
Way Out: Brooks Ellis, Christian Kuntz, Nick Usher
Comments: Dropped Harris to where I initially was going to put him. Some people have not been enamored with his play thus far. Freeny gets back on cuz, yup, Bill loves his special teamers too. Langhi has shown some skills, but just like all six in the “In” section he has been up and down. Kuntz and Usher were just signed yesterday, hope they enjoy playing Thursday night. Not sure we can expect much else from them.
Locks: Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones
In: Cyrus Jones
Out: Justin Coleman, D.J. Killings
Way Out: William Likely, Dwayne Thomas
Comments: Cyrus has not “flashed” in any way, shape or form. But I have to believe he still gets that second year here, at a minimum. The rest is kind of obvious and the whole lot hasn’t changed from the first projection.
Locks: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon
In: Jordan Richards
Way Out: Jason Thompson, Damarius Travis, David Jones, Kenny Moore
Comments: I said the last time that Richards probably gets one more chance and seemed to squeak on my roster here. Got a lot of run in the last preseason game with mixed results. Hey, another questionable second round pick at safety in Tavon Wilson got four years here, why can’t Richards get three?
Locks: Stephen Gostkowski (K), Ryan Allen (P), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST), Nate Ebner (ST), Brandon King (ST)
Way Out: None
Comments: Same ol’, same ol’.
Bonus? Practice squad shot in the dark: Foster, Carr, Lucien, Jacob Hollister, Douglas, Ferentz, Hamilton, Augusta, Killings, Moore. Though half those dudes may get claimed and Bill will want to bring in five other young guys he sees on the wire anyway…