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NFL Draft

Is Jimmy Garoppolo The Best QB Option For Patriots?

  • The Draft Network
  • March 8, 2021
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There are still a number of teams with unanswered questions surrounding the quarterback position; this has been evident by the waves of sensationalized rumors. There, however, can be truth to some of these rumors, and as teams contemplate one of their biggest decisions, many will get antsy and want a passer they can win with now.

While Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks have been at the forefront of QB conversations as of late, Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers have been a constant talking point this offseason. San Francisco has expressed its desire to keep the veteran quarterback. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch openly expressed their continued faith in Garoppolo despite his postseason blunders and his subjective, oft-argued status as a good (but not great) quarterback. Garoppolo has been labeled a system quarterback, and for good reason; he quite literally works well in the 49ers’ system. But along those same lines, another quarterback could be placed in San Francisco’s system as Garoppolo, who is entering the fourth year of a five-year contract, finds another team he can fit well into and whose system he can better execute within. Who better than the only other team he’s known?

It’s believed, by some, that Garoppolo will return to New England. The Patriots have reportedly been eyeing a new quarterback while the 49ers have been linked to Sam Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater. There are two points of emphasis here with San Francisco and New England on the verge of another team-altering change; the focus, for now, is on the Patriots. 

“Make no doubt, Garoppolo is Plan A for the Patriots,” Greg Bedard said on the Greg Bedard Patriots Podcast. “Patriots fans should be rooting for the 49ers to do something at quarterback.”

What’s more, Garoppolo would be warmly welcomed by Bill Belichick. It’s not just the familiarity with the long-time Patriots coach or the team’s system, Belichick is eyeing a lofty goal, and Garoppolo’s addition would help the tenured coach in achieving it. 

Belichick’s accomplished resume is almost unmatchable, but even as the NFL’s longest-tenured head coach, he still trails the very best in wins. If Belichick wants to own the record, he’ll need veteran help. Cam Newton didn’t have immediate success with the Patriots in 2020 and the team wasn’t afforded a postseason appearance. While Newton is still better than a large number of active quarterbacks and would like to return to New England on a new contract, the Patriots have been actively searching to answer their own question at QB via the trade market, according to The Athletic

Belichick, who missed the postseason for just the fourth time in his Patriots career and the first time since the 2008 season when then-quarterback Tom Brady suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1, is itching to catch Don Shula’s record. The Draft Network’s director of scouting, Kyle Crabbs, set up the context for a match made in history: 

“Belichick needs 36 (wins) to catch Shula between postseason and regular season; so you’re looking at a minimum of four seasons to catch Shula, but only if the Patriots played winning football over that stretch. If Belichick cares about the record, onboarding a rookie feels like a roll of the dice they may want to avoid relative to how committed they (reportedly) were to transition to Garoppolo before. The familiarity and, more importantly, reduced cost for a trade to get a more pro-ready QB, makes me think it’s a better move.”

New England already ushered in a new era with the departure of Brady, and in the not-so-distant future, it’ll welcome a new head coach. There is limited time with one of the greatest football minds—and likely an overwhelming urge to return to the pinnacle of NFL success. 

New England isn’t hindered by the salary cap, unlike a handful of teams; it is poised to enter the new league year $66.5 million below the NFL’s projected cap, via Over the Cap. The Patriots can work extremely well within their budget and secure a quarterback they can win now with while addressing other pressing needs on offense (at tight end and wide receiver) and defense (on the defensive line and at linebacker). It makes a reunion with Garoppolo, who New England selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, all the more fitting.

There are a couple of concerning factors at play for the Patriots to consider. Garoppolo has durability concerns and has started in only 52% of possible games over the last three seasons. He’s torn his ACL and suffered a high ankle sprain that has limited him to one full season of play (in 2019) since joining the 49ers in 2017. Garoppolo is also very frivolous with the football and has the third-highest interception rate in the past two seasons combined, including playoffs, according to ESPN.

New England was willing to take a similar injury (and production) risk with Newton in 2020. If Garoppolo can stay healthy and tighten up his game, he could be the answer to bring the Patriots back to contention and help Belichick make history.

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