It’s always interesting to hear Mike Lombardi’s opinion on matters pertaining to the New England Patriots, for a multitude of reasons.
No one in the media is closer to Patriots coach Bill Belichick than Lombardi, so he can provide unique insight. At the same time, Lombardi is really, really good friends with Belichick, so if he’s praising a player who might be on the trade block, it’s worth raising an eyebrow.
Lombardi discussed Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who very much is on the trade block, Wednesday on The Ringer podcast “The NFL Show” with Bill Simmons.
Simmons questioned how great Garoppolo really is since there’s a — fantastic as it might be — one and-a-half game sample size of the QB as a starter because he injured his shoulder in Week 2 of the 2016 season while Tom Brady was suspended.
“He wasn’t going to get annihilated,” Lombardi said. “The guy was too good. He was too good of a player. I’ve watched this guy practice and play for too many practices. This guy is a good player.
“I’m not shilling for Belichick. I’m not trying to get him more of a draft pick, because look, I know this player. This player is really good.”
Of course, that’s exactly what someone shilling for Belichick would say.
“Now, we were in the draft room,” Lombardi continued. “We thought Houston was going to pick (Garoppolo) with their high pick in the second round. Instead, they picked that guard from UCLA (Xavier Su’a-Filo). What a sigh of relief that was. If Houston turns in Garoppolo’s name instead of the guard from UCLA, it’s a whole different ballgame. I’m telling you. People can say, ‘Oh don’t’ — I’m telling you, he’s worth — he’s worth the Patriots to hold onto him.
“If I was in New England, I would be telling Belichick every day there’s no way we can trade him. I know you’ve got Brady. But Brady is 40 years old. We don’t know where that’s going. There’s no history that says Brady’s going to be great.”
Lombardi stressed that all Patriots players would agree with his opinion on Garoppolo.
“You walk off the practice field in New England and people are shaking their heads like, ‘That guy is good.’ Ask any player who leaves New England,” Lombardi said. “You can just randomly call a guy.”
Lombardi also said he can’t see Belichick trading the backup QB to the Texans because Garoppolo is too good and would make Houston too dangerous. He also believes Garoppolo is worth more than the Cleveland Browns’ 12th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
“He’s worth a multitude of picks,” Lombardi said. “Which would be take the 12th and move down. Because the player you take at 12, I don’t think is going to be better than Jimmy Garoppolo. That’s my point.
“That’s called sustainable values versus situational values. Belichick makes every decision based on sustainable values. ‘How am I going to look in the year 2017 and ’18.’ Most teams in the NFL operate under situational values, which means what’s the best thing we can do right now. And that’s where he takes advantage of the marketplace. He’s one of the few traders on the market who … sustainable values and everyone else is situational. That’s what makes him so good.”
Of course, Belichick has that power partially because he has job security and knows he can keep cranking out 12-4 seasons in his sleep. Another coach with job security? New San Francisco 49ers hire Kyle Shanahan.
“I think the team he would end up on would be San Francisco, because I know for a fact that when I was in Cleveland for the little bit of time, then when I left and went to New England, Kyle Shanahan, whom we hired, came in, and he loved Garoppolo,” Lombardi said. “Loved him. I think he would have enough assets in San Francisco to make that work.
“Let’s face it: If you’re Kyle Shanahan, and you have six years at huge money — and by the way there’s no offset clause in your contract, which is significant in the NFL. Which means that if Kyle Shanahan gets fired in Year 2, he gets all of his money and can double dip, which is unheard of the NFL. You might as well use sustainable values and go for the long play.”
Ultimately, Lombardi doesn’t believe the Patriots will trade Garoppolo, who’s only under contract for one more season, however.
“I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Lombardi said. “I really don’t. I’m not saying this because I’ve talked to him (Belichick) about it. I just know the feeling of it. … I could be wrong.”
We’ll see what happens. Lombardi’s comments either provide unique insight, or they’re an attempt to drive up Garoppolo’s value.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images