The New England Patriots’ quarterback situation is among the most fascinating in the NFL.
Tom Brady’s four-game Deflategate suspension actually looks like a blessing in disguise. Brady was excellent in his Week 5 return against the Cleveland Browns, suggesting the four-time Super Bowl champion is in for another big season, and Jimmy Garoppolo performed well in his absence before suffering a shoulder injury, proving the Patriots have two very capable signal-callers.
It’s an enviable position to be in, as a lot of NFL teams don’t even have one competent quarterback. But it creates some intriguing questions: Should the Patriots consider trading Garoppolo? How about Brady? What would the Patriots’ demands be in return for Garoppolo, an up-and-coming QB, at a time when many teams are searching for their next cornerstone?
Brady is 39 years old and can’t play forever, but he has shown no signs of slowing down and remains adamant he hasn’t even considered retirement. The Patriots ultimately must determine how many (good) years Brady has left and whether they can risk trading away Garoppolo, who turns just 25 in a few weeks and looks like a potential franchise quarterback in his own right, albeit in a small sample size.
Garoppolo is set to become a free agent after next season, so the Patriots will need to figure things out sooner rather than later. Why wait for the organization to make up its mind when we can speculate and explore all of the possibilities, though?
ESPN.com sought the opinions of three longtime NFL team executives. Here’s a sample of how each responded, based on the ESPN.com article published this week after Brady’s dominant performance against the Browns on Sunday.
Executive 1: Patriots should ask for more than the Minnesota Vikings surrendered for quarterback Sam Bradford — a 2017 first-round pick and a 2018 fourth-round pick — if they trade Garoppolo.
According to this executive, first- and second-round picks would be the minimum, and two first-round picks would be the goal for New England in trade talks involving Garoppolo.
“It is the way of the world,” the first exec told ESPN.com. “We are so quick to make up our minds when we don’t really know. At least you know Garoppolo can do it. Can he do it for a long period of time? Quarterback is a weird deal, because out of nowhere a guy can just suddenly perform. You don’t know if he can play, but he is performing.”
The Los Angeles Rams surrendered two firsts, two seconds and two thirds in a trade for the first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, which they used to select quarterback Jared Goff. And the Philadelphia Eagles gave up two firsts, one second and one third as part of a deal for the second overall pick, which they used to pick quarterback Carson Wentz. So there’s that.
Executive 2: Because of Brady’s age, the Patriots might not trade Garoppolo unless they’re overwhelmed.
According to this executive, Garoppolo’s trade value might be hurt by the underwhelming performance of Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler. Osweiler, like Garoppolo, had very little experience, but the Texans signed him to a $72 million contract over the offseason based on his potential.
“I have no idea,” the second exec told ESPN.com. “I don’t think it would be as high as the Bradford situation, because there are enough examples of guys who were backups, went somewhere and were not successful, especially when they were not with coaches who knew them well.”
Executive 3: Garoppolo might be untouchable in trade talks.
According to this executive, the Patriots never have mentioned a price for Garoppolo because they haven’t been interested in dealing him.
“I don’t blame them,” the third exec told ESPN.com. “You have an older QB, and you’ve got another one you like. Even if you got two ones for what could be your Aaron Rodgers coming after Brett Favre or Steve Young after Joe Montana, what two players from the college draft could come close to that?”
This exec even wondered whether Bill Belichick eventually could decide that trading Brady — not Garoppolo — is the better long-term play.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images