FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots are excited to watch quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo get a chance to actually play, but they’ll miss their friend. That was the consensus Wednesday at Gillette Stadium before the Patriots go their separate ways for four days on their bye.
The Patriots traded Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2018 second-round pick Monday night. Garoppolo traveled to the Bay Area on Tuesday, when he held his introductory press conference. The Patriots replaced Garoppolo on their 53-man roster with Brian Hoyer, who was cut by the 49ers, by Wednesday’s practice.
Patriots left tackle Nate Solder, for one, didn’t seem as shocked by the news as many media members and fans.
“I don’t think I was surprised, but it’s just one of the tough things about this whole league,” Solder said. “He’s a great guy, and I want the best for him, but I really want to hang out with him too.”
That’s one of the sweetest quotes you’ll find out of an NFL locker room this season, and it really drives home the point that trades can be tough on teams.
“Bittersweet — as a player, one thing you never get used to is seeing guys come and go,” Patriots captain Matthew Slater said. “You forge relationships with the guys, and it’s part of the business you know, but at the same time it doesn’t make it any easier. But it is a business, and Coach (Bill Belichick) is always going to do what he thinks is best for the football team, he always has done that. As far as Jimmy’s concerned, you wish him nothing but the best, hoping he is able to fully take advantage of his opportunity, live out his dreams, play at a high level.
One other thing became very clear in talking to Patriots players around the locker room: Not only are they excited to watch Garoppolo start, they think he’ll do well.
“He’s learned a lot here,” wide receiver Danny Amendola said. “He’s a great football player. He’s been very coachable, and he’s been a great teammate, and he’s been everything anyone’s asked him to be since he got here. I got to watch him develop and kinda grow up in his first few years here. I’m excited to see what he does with his new opportunity.
“He can throw a good ball. He’s smart. He’s a football player, and he’s tough. I think he’s ready.”
Garoppolo won’t start Sunday when the 49ers take on the Arizona Cardinals. It might not make sense for him to actually take the field until Week 12 after the 49ers have their bye week when he’ll have three weeks to learn Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
Even defensive players are sorry to see Garoppolo go because of how good he was as a scout-team quarterback.
“From the offensive side of the ball, no one has helped us more than him,” safety Devin McCourty said. “Each week, coming in, whether it’s being a pocket passer or being a quarterback that’s going to look then run. Jimmy was able to give us all that each week.”
Hoyer will have to fulfill those duties now. It also wouldn’t be surprising to see the Patriots add a quarterback to their practice squad.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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