Word of internal strife in the New England Patriots organization surfaced Tuesday, with the Golf Channel’s Ryan Burr reporting Patriots owner Robert Kraft, not head coach Bill Belichick, made the call to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers.
Why? Because, someone within starting QB Tom Brady’s camp told Burr, Kraft wanted to ensure Brady retired a Patriot. The report also stated Brady’s relationship with Belichick is “not great” and that those close to Brady believed Belichick could have traded the 40-year-old QB after this season and rolled with Garoppolo.
It was an explosive report from an unusual source, and NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport disputed it Wednesday during an appearance on Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” podcast.
“What I was told is that this was definitely Belichick running the show here,” Rapoport said. “I mean, he’s got a lot of people helping him, but one of the things about being the man there is during draft day, he can say, ‘There’s a player scouts don’t like’ — Jamie Collins, for instance, was Bill Belichick’s pick and turned out to be, for the first three years at least, a really, really good one. He just decided, ‘That’s who I want to take.’ He loved him, he saw something and made sure they picked him.
“(The Garoppolo trade) was a trade that Belichick took on himself. With the really important ones, with the things involving the quarterbacks with Brady, it is really Belichick kind of spearheading it.”
That doesn’t mean Belichick was happy to trade Garoppolo, though. In a conference call after the deal was announced, the Patriots coach expressed regret the team couldn’t continue to carry both Brady and Garoppolo, saying the enviable QB situation was “just not sustainable” given the 25-year-old’s contract status and desire for playing time.
“The thing is, when a team makes a trade, everyone’s usually happy, right?” Rapoport said on the podcast. “Same thing with a contract extension. It’s like celebration time. I don’t get that sense at all from New England. It was a complicated, difficult, hard thing, and I don’t think Belichick is excited about it. I think it’s just, it’s almost like he forced himself to do what’s best for the team, like he has everyone else do, but I think he’s kind of stung by this. I think it hurt him to do this trade because he likes Jimmy G so much.”
The trade left Brady as the only quarterback on the Patriots’ roster. Moving Garoppolo meant the team believes the NFL’s oldest active signal-caller can continue to play at a high level for at least another three or four years.
“When I talked to other GMs, what they say is there’s no way Belichick would have traded (Garoppolo) if they think he’s going to be a franchise guy,” Rapoport said. “I think it’s more like, we have to do this now because we’re not going to franchise him. We have to. And Brady hasn’t shown any signs of breaking down, so we are going to trust that Brady is going to play until 44 or 45, and we’re just going to move forward because this is the only time we could ever make this move.”
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images
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