Bill Belichick apparently gets in the minds of his opponents without even stepping on the field.
The New England Patriots head coach reluctantly traded quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday — a move that left 49ers fans elated, Patriots fans shocked and Cleveland Browns fans irate. The Browns, who haven’t had a franchise-caliber QB in what seems like forever, have been named in Garoppolo trade rumors since the 2016 NFL season. And considering the Pats only got a second-round pick in return for the 25-year-old, it’s fair to wonder why the Browns didn’t step up and give New England an offer it couldn’t refuse.
Well, they likely would’ve, if it weren’t for the intimidating presence of Belichick, according to ESPN’s Tony Grossi.
“The Browns poked around a trade for Garoppolo on (2016 NFL Draft) weekend. But they always tip-toed to the altar of Belichick instead of pursuing Garoppolo aggressively,” Grossi wrote in a piece published Tuesday.
“When Belichick sent word through his media confidantes that he intended to drive a hard bargain – eliciting the falsehood that Garoppolo would not be traded ‘under any circumstances’ — the Browns backed off, as if they were fearful of being taken to the cleaners. ‘They’re not being aggressive,’ a source familiar with their trade talks told me then. … Had the Browns assessed Belichick’s situation properly — that the Patriots couldn’t possibly afford keeping Tom Brady and Garoppolo — they would have realized a trade was inevitable and they had the resources to outbid any team, by plenty.”
Listen, we understand why some teams would be wary of dealing with Belichick, as the Pats always seem to be one step ahead of everyone else. But there is perhaps no more valuable position in all of sports than quarterback, and teams can’t afford to be gun shy when their future’s at stake.
But again, this is the Browns we’re talking about — a team that can’t even navigate the logistics of the trade deadline.
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images
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