How did the New England Patriots end up with just a second-round draft pick in exchange for Jimmy Garoppolo, who looked like a legitimate franchise quarterback down the stretch with the San Francisco 49ers after the October trade that sent him to the Bay Area?

It’s a legitimate question, although it’s nearly impossible to answer without knowing what exactly was going on inside the Patriots organization at the time the deal was made. And Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas has a theory as to why Bill Belichick traded Garoppolo to San Francisco rather than shopping the fourth-year quarterback more extensively and sending him someplace else — like, say, Cleveland.

Here’s Thomas’ theory, as told Sunday through a series of tweets:

ESPN’s Seth Wickersham reported in a piece published last Friday that Patriots owner Robert Kraft forced Belichick to trade Garoppolo and that the New England head coach was “furious and demoralized” by having to deal Tom Brady’s backup. According to Wickersham, Belichick reached out to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan after the mandate and offered Garoppolo for a second-round pick.

Kraft since has denied the rumor, telling The MMQB’s Peter King following the ESPN report that until Belichick approached him about trading Garoppolo just before the NFL trade deadline, the two hadn’t discussed the quarterback’s situation since the offseason.

Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported Monday that the Browns were willing to trade the Houston Texans’ 2018 first-round pick (ultimately the fourth overall selection) and “other goodies” to the Patriots for Garoppolo, which, if true, would make New England’s trade with San Francisco even more head-scratching.

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