The New England Patriots rarely receive due credit for how smart they are at managing the salary cap. Instead, many confuse their savviness with being cheap and unwilling to overpay to keep players around.
So are the Patriots really preparing to invest over $40 million worth of cap space in quarterbacks during the 2018 season? They are if Adam Schefter is to believed, and the ESPN NFL reporter rarely is wrong.
Schefter reported Wednesday the Patriots aren’t expected to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, whose rookie contract runs out after the 2017 season. So in order for the Patriots to keep Garoppolo around in 2018 and beyond, if they really view him as the heir apparent to Tom Brady, they’ll have to franchise tag him next offseason, since it seems unlikely he’ll sign a long-term contract with the best quarterback in the history of football still kicking around. That franchise tag will come with a one-year salary of over $20 million.
Brady already is signed until 2019, and there were rumblings from the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe this offseason that the quarterback and the Patriots were working on another contract extension.
So what exactly is going on here?
Some surmise this is a negotiating ploy by the Patriots. That they haven’t received offers for Garoppolo they deem worthy of moving a potential franchise quarterback. For the Patriots to truly be blown away by a trade offer, they first have to take the quarterback off the table.
That’s certainly possible, and it’s what we also assumed when The Ringer’s Mike Lombardi, a former Patriots front-office executive, guessed New England wouldn’t trade Garoppolo. But this news coming from Schefter is different. This is Schefter putting his reputation on the line. People will remember if he gets this wrong, especially given Patriots fans’ unhappiness with ESPN following the Deflategate saga.
So perhaps the Patriots really do love Garoppolo. And they might be the only ones who truly know their plan.
Not trading Garoppolo and signing Brady to a contract extension seem to run in direct contrast with one another. It’s one thing to keep a quality backup quarterback around when your starter is 40 years old and entering the final years of his contract. But to invest more money in that 40-year-old, who says he wants to play many more seasons and is coming off a Super Bowl MVP performance, while keeping the 25-year-old around is head-scratching stuff.
The Patriots can only franchise Garoppolo two years in a row. So they can only force him to stick around through 2019. Perhaps Brady will show signs of slowing down by that point, and it’s even possible the Patriots will move on from him earlier.
But for now, it’s anyone’s guess what the Patriots are planning for the future at quarterback. Sorry we couldn’t be of more help.
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images
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