On Friday, ESPN came out with an article that could be considered scandalous, sensational, interesting, page turning, or total non-sense; depending on who you ask.
The article centers around the Big 3 of the New England Patriots franchise- quarterback Tom Brady, head coach Bill Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft. The article can be read here.
The major bullet points of interest to us at GuruQb are as follows:
- Tom Brady was insecure about having the younger JimmyG around
- Garoppolo was offered a contract extension
- Garoppolo was shut out by TB12, Brady’s performance center, after his injury last year
- Tom Brady essentially fostered the trade of JimmyG away from New England
- Belichick traded away JimmyG to the 49ers because he liked Kyle Shanahan
- Belichick saw JimmyG as the eventual successor to Brady
- Following the trade, Brady seemed happier than normal
Take what you want from reading the article, Tom Brady comes off as a little bit of a paranoid and a lot of competitor who feared that Garoppolo would do to him what Young did to Montana, or what Rodgers did to Favre, or what…oh yeah, Brady did to Bledsoe- unseat him as the starting quarterback of the franchise.
Hence the blockbuster and shocking trade of Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for a mere 2nd-round pick. Alex Smith by comparison, was traded from the 49ers to the Chiefs for a pair of draft picks. The article seems to indicate that Coach Belichick was very fond of Garoppolo, essentially viewing him as the eventual replacement to Brady, but more importantly, there seemed to be some kind of wanting by Belichick that he, more than Brady, was responsible for the dynasty. It’s the classic “Is it the coach? or the QB?”
The coach wanted JimmyG, the goat wanted him out, and the owner sided with his quarterback.
Is it true? Maybe. Perhaps. However, I don’t really buy the idea that Tom Brady, in the middle of a season, essentially asked ownership, to get rid of his backup QB- it just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
From a competitive standpoint of “it’s me or him”, I get it. But not in the middle of a season, let alone a season in which Brady had showed zero signs of slowing down.
I believe a more probable conclusion is as follows, all based on the article itself:
- The Patriots really liked and viewed JimmyG as the eventual heir to Brady
- The Patriots really like(d), and feel extreme loyalty to Tom Brady (who can blame them)
- The Patriots offered JimmyG $17-18M extension over 4-years, which he rejected
- The Patriots traded away 3rd string QB Jacoby Brissett for two reasons:
- They were solid at QB with Brady and Garoppolo
- They needed a wide receiver (no Malcolm Mitchell or Edelman)
- Most importantly, the trade showed their commitment to Garoppolo, that he was in fact, the future of the team
- With no contract extension signed, New England had only a couple of choices left:
- Franchise JimmyG (and possibly lose CB Malcolm Butler or RB Dion Lewis)
- Hope Brady leaves after the season opening the door for Garoppolo to stay
- Trade him away
- So they chose 5-3, trade Jimmy away.
That seems to be the most plausible theory as to why, a Super Bowl contending team, at the trade deadline, dealt away the “heir apparent” rather than because the starting QB somehow felt threatened.
Again, both are possible, but the first story just doesn’t make sense.
Tom Brady is a competitor. Having a Jimmy Garoppolo on the bench, only helps in getting those competitive juices going compared to having Brian Hoyer, who is no threat to unseat Brady any time soon.
And there are stories starting to come out, that support my theory. Jason La Canfora from CBS Sports:
And here’s Mike Giardi from NBCSportsBoston:
The idea of conflict and disagreement over the team isn’t anything new. But the idea that Tom Brady, singlehandedly pushed for the trade of Jimmy Garoppolo, his heir apparent, is total rubbish.
The Patriots were in a bind that only a couple of teams have been fortunate enough to have experienced. For the 49ers, the decision wasn’t that difficult. Joe Montana had played in only one game in two seasons, while Steve Young was winning passing titles. For the Packers, Favre retired, opening the door for Aaron Rodgers. But with the Patriots, Brady is still playing at a very elite level, and a 6th Super Bowl is a very real possibility.
Garoppolo was set to become a free agent and wouldn’t sign a contract extension and the franchise tag was too valuable with other pending free agents on the team; so they did what they felt was in their best interest- they traded JimmyG away.
Why the 49ers and not the Cleveland Browns, who apparently offered a better deal? Simple:
- The 49ers play in the NFC, Cleveland plays in the AFC
- The 49ers offered up a 2nd round pick at the trade deadline
- Don’t pull the trigger on a trade with the 49ers, then risk losing JimmyG for nothing after the season
I know I know, Cleveland got Jamie Collins from the Pats last year, but let’s be honest here- Collins wouldn’t have had the same impact on a team as Jimmy Garoppolo would have. The trading of Garoppolo was a tough call by the Patriots, however this is a franchise, that is used to making tough calls.
In the end, the article is going to catch major heat around the sports world. It will be all over talk radio, countless blogs, message boards, and dinning room talk, however, I believe, it’s much ado about nothing.