It’s been 15 months since the New England Patriots traded Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers. The Patriots have punched their tickets to two Super Bowls in that span.

Yet Garoppolo continues to be an occasional talking point in New England, largely because there were rumors before the Patriots traded the up-and-coming quarterback that head coach Bill Belichick actually wanted to keep him over Tom Brady, who continues to perform at a high level at age 41.

Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless debated Wednesday on FS1’s “Undisputed” whether the Patriots, who defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday to set up a date with the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII, would be in the same spot right now with Garoppolo rather than Brady.

Sharpe believes they would be.

Bayless disagrees, even going so far as to say the Patriots would’ve missed the playoffs with Garoppolo, not Brady, under center.

Belichick has done an excellent job coaching the Patriots this season, and New England’s playoff victories over the Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers have highlighted his greatness. As Sharpe notes, Sony Michel and the Patriots’ rushing attack has been awesome. New England’s offensive line has been a force.

But Brady, hands-down the greatest quarterback in NFL history, still has a knack for stepping up in clutch situations. And while Garoppolo, who tore his ACL this season, has shown flashes of being an elite quarterback, the 27-year-old is unproven on the big stage.

A lot of pundits want to pit Belichick and Brady against each other, because determining who’s more important to the Patriots’ dynasty makes for a fascinating discussion, especially when you consider the reports of tension in Foxboro last season. It’s all relatively pointless when push comes to shove, though.

Belichick and Brady are preparing for their ninth Super Bowl with the Patriots in the hopes of securing a sixth title together, and the two have complemented each other perfectly for the past two decades. That’s difficult — perhaps even impossible — to duplicate.

Thumbnail photo via Scott R. Galvin/USA TODAY Sports