New England Patriots Talk: Where is Jimmy Garoppolo heading in 2017?
by Stephen Hilton
After winning Super Bowl LI, New England Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo has now won two Super Bowls playing as backup QB behind the now 5-time Superbowl Champion Tom Brady. During Brady’s 4 game suspension from Deflategate, Jimmy G stepped up as the starter for the first two games of the Patriots season winning 23-21 against the Arizona Cardinals and 31-24 against the Miami Dolphins before getting a shoulder injury that put him out for the remainder of his season. Jacoby Brissett, the 3rd String Rookie QB from NC State who the New England Patriots picked up in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL draft, was then forced to play for the next two weeks blowing out the Houston Texans 27-0 and then getting shutout at home against the Buffalo Bills 0-16.
Despite having less than a hundred snaps, Jimmy has shown that he is capable of competing at the NFL level as a starter. For now, the ultimate question is if Jimmy wants to stay with the Patriots and ride out the remainder of his rookie contract till he become a free agent by the end of next season? Or should Bill Belicheck take advantage of the situation and trade Jimmy to a QB-needy team this off-season to gain additional picks for the 2017 NFL draft?
The timing is key here as there is little question that after starting in the NFL, Jimmy G will want to be paid starter money. The Patriots have close to 63 million in cap space according to Spotrac. However, the issue is that there are 14 unrestricted free-agents that could leave the Patriots (most obvious priority is Dont’a Hightower) by next season if the Patriots don’t make moves fast. Bill Belicheck has already stated that he takes no days off.
More importantly, there was many speculations about Tom Brady being on his last legs as the starter for the Patriots because of his age and possible rust from missing his first 4 games. Instead, he ended his season with the best TD-INT ratio in the entire history of the NFL: 28TDs to just 2 INTs, then proceeded to make a 25-point comeback in Super Bowl LI and defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in the greatest upset in Super Bowl history. Additionally, there are already talks that Brady is asking for another contract extension even though he had an 2 year extension just this past off-season
Jimmy G’s market value could not be any higher than right now. The only noticeable potential free-agent QB (if the RedSkins don’t resign him) would be Kirk Cousins. The 2017 NFL draft has been seen by many NFL analysts as not overly outstanding for the QB position and this opens up possible trade partners that could want to acquire Jimmy G instead of grooming a potential prospect.
The most obvious teams that are in need of a QB for next season are: New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, San Fransisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Houston Texans and Denver Broncos. That is 6 out of 32 teams that just thinking off the top of my head are in desperate need of a star QB.
Now for which of the teams are the most likely choice. The New York Jets are not even possible since giving a division rival any chance of winning (if Jimmy G turns out to be a stud) is a bad idea. Now the Denver Broncos are interesting because they seemingly have the weapons that could help with Jimmy flourishing within their system but there are rumors about Tony Romo possibly eyeing them as his next destination after losing the starting job to Dak Prescott. And in addition, for the last 4 seasons the Denver Broncos have been in the AFC championship twice and they went on the Super Bowl both times. Again, giving a rival any competitive edge is dangerous especially for a team like Denver. Houston is a similar story as well, they have key play makers on both sides of the ball but the main issue is a two worded ball-and-chain called Brock Osweiler. The money Jimmy would need to have as a starter against the 72 million that was already invested in Osweiler makes the situation too much of a mess financially speaking so there is very little chance of it working out. (Especially when investing in a QB that you had little knowledge of didn’t work out the first time)
Now we get to the three teams that, in my personal opinion, are the most likely to take a chance on Jimmy G. San Fransisco was a very high candidate because the new head coach Kyle Shanahan had Jimmy high on his draft board in the 2014 NFL draft. But according to the latest news, Shanahan doesn’t want to rush for a QB this season which likely means that Jimmy is a no go if they stick with Colin Kaepernick. This leaves us with only these two teams: The Chicago Bears and the Cleveland Browns. Belicheck had already traded with the Browns numerous times during the season including the acquirement of Barkevious Mingo and trading Jaime Collins for a compensatory 3rd round pick. Which shows he has a working relationship with their team’s front office already. Cleveland also has the 1st pick and 12th pick in the 2017 NFL draft and are not short on finances as they are currently undergoing a full rebuild. They have everything that says they can give Jimmy the money he wants but at the same time Chicago is in a similar situation. With reports that they are moving on from Jay Cutler, it seems like the perfect time to get negotiations down for a new QB. Jimmy being born in Arlington Heights, IL and going to Eastern Illinois means he is very familiar with the state so he would be right at home. More importantly, the Bears are in the NFC and that puts them outside of having to face the Patriots in the playoffs (unless its the Super Bowl of course). The reality is that if we are talking purely from the Patriots side, the Browns look like the best trade to get the most value out of. However, the Bears give Jimmy both his home town team and a chance to start from day 1 as Bears backup QB Brian Hoyer is a pending free-agent too. The Cleveland Browns have many players that are still exceptionally young and Robert Griffin III is still an undecided factor going into the 2017 season along with Cody Kessler.
Overall, Jimmy G has alot of potential to make it in the NFL. Even with the limited play that was seen this year, its clear that Jimmy, if given the right opportunity, could become a starter in their near future but whether that will be with the Browns or Bears is still hard to call. Jimmy is not likely staying and he will want money that the Patriots won’t pay just to sit on the bench. Jimmy would by all accounts be heading to the Browns unless the Bears bring in some huge value for a trade. Speculations like this are why the off-season always feel so long because we won’t get our answers for a while.