So, who should New England now direction its attention toward while searching for a new quarterback this offseason?
Jimmy Garoppolo is a name that’s been tossed around in speculation for a while, and Harrison explained this week to NBC Sports’ Tom Curran on the “Patriots Talk Podcast” that Tom Brady’s ex-backup would make sense as head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels seek to improve New England’s offense in 2021.
“He’s gonna be a heck of a lot better situated for that moment than, say, somebody else because he knows Bill, he’s comfortable with Josh,” Harrison said. “He knows their system. So I would say Jimmy G is definitely a viable option.”
Of course, the Patriots’ potential pursuit of Garoppolo could depend on the San Francisco 49ers’ plans.
Garoppolo is set to earn a $24.1 million salary in 2021 while carrying a $26.4 million cap hit. The 49ers can free up substantial salary cap space by trading or releasing the 29-year-old, and neither option is off the table if San Francisco thinks it can upgrade at quarterback.
Garoppolo helped the Niners reach the Super Bowl last season, and he’s also highly regarded in New England, where he spent parts of four seasons backing up Brady after being drafted in the second round in 2014. Perhaps the biggest question for the Patriots is whether they’d be confident in his ability stay healthy, as Garoppolo has missed 23 games in his three full seasons with the 49ers.
“Of course I am,” Harrison told Curran of whether he’s concerned about Garoppolo being injury prone. “But what do you have out here? You’ve got garbage out here. You don’t have anything. You don’t have much. So when you do get a great quarterback, when you do get somebody special, you sign him up for 10 or 15 years like Kansas City did Patrick Mahomes.
“You have to really embrace that quarterback because when you think about the personality of the team, a lot of times — yeah, it comes from the coach — but it really comes from the quarterback. And when a team can sense that your quarterback is tough, he’s unselfish, he’s willing to come in early, leave late, do all the little things and make it not about him, then you have a guy like Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes and now you’re set.”
Regardless of what the Patriots decide, Harrison has made it clear New England in no way, shape or form should consider a reunion with Cam Newton, who struggled for most of 2020.