Neither Mike Florio nor Chris Simms is sold on the idea of Jimmy Garoppolo reuniting with the New England Patriots.
While Garoppolo has been linked to the Patriots in rumors all offseason, with one report even suggesting Tom Brady’s former backup is New England’s “Plan A” at quarterback, Florio and Simms on Tuesday expressed doubt over whether Bill Belichick truly wants to go back down that road.
This comes one day after former Patriots tight end Jermaine Wiggins, now working in Boston media, said on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” that some of Garoppolo’s former New England teammates were skeptical of the QB’s dependability during his time in Foxboro.
“I’m not shocked by this,” Florio said Tuesday on NBC Sports’ “ProFootballTalk,” reacting to Wiggins’ report. “And it makes you wonder, is there a sense of caution as it relates to the possibility of bringing back Jimmy Garoppolo? They’ve got Cam Newton. To me, I don’t see it. I know people like (NBC Sports Patriots beat writer) Tom Curran think it’s possible, but stories like (Wiggins’) make me think it’s less possible.”
Simms added: “I don’t think it’s totally out of Crazyville. I think there’s maybe still a possibility. But I’m with you, I think it’s less likely to happen than more likely to happen. And I think that was a real thing, to what Jermaine Wiggins was talking about, as far as the perception of Jimmy G in New England.”
Belichick and several former teammates have spoken glowingly of Garoppolo, on the record, in the time since New England traded him to the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. So, perhaps there’s another agenda in play here, with Garoppolo’s future in the Bay Area uncertain.
The 49ers continue to insist Garoppolo is part of their 2021 plans, with head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch even doubling down in wake of San Francisco acquiring the No. 3 overall pick in the upcoming draft. But the Niners almost certainly will choose a quarterback with that selection, thus intensifying speculation over whether the Patriots will make a bid for Jimmy G.
Of course, that’s based on the assumption New England wants Garoppolo.
Simms isn’t so sure. After all, injuries have been a problem for Garoppolo dating back to his time with the Patriots, when the 2014 second-round pick left his second career start and was forced to miss the final two games of Brady’s four-game Deflategate suspension in 2016.
“I think there was thought that he could still play in that game (against the Houston Texans in Week 3 of 2016). And then the week after that, the fourth game, which he didn’t play, I think there was a lot of guys that thought, ‘Wait, he could play and do this and whatever else,’ and I think there was a little disappointment throughout the (Patriots) organization that that didn’t happen,” Simms said Tuesday. “When you have stuff like that, and of course all the things that have gone on on the field, with him being injured and all the time he’s missed, listen, perception becomes reality. And in this case, it’s not perception. The reality is the reality on this one. And you do have to worry about this with Jimmy Garoppolo as your starting quarterback. You’ve gotta have a good backup, because you just can’t trust him to stay healthy for the whole year.”
Garoppolo, to his credit, guided the 49ers to a Super Bowl berth during the 2019 season. But that came after he missed the final 13 games of 2018 with a torn ACL he suffered while unnecessarily staying in bounds and taking a hit along the sideline. He also was limited to just six games in 2020.
“For me, that was the moment,” Florio said of the torn ACL play. “And that’s why I wonder what Kyle (Shanahan) thought or said when he realized what Jimmy Garoppolo has done. When I saw that and realized that that kind of stupid, in-the-moment inability to control that basic tough-guy instinct, mindset, whatever, and he tears his ACL.
“I’ve criticized other guys for doing that. Why are you delivering a blow at the sideline? Get your (butt) out of bounds and live to see another play. You owe that to the team that’s paying you all that money and your teammates to be available. That, to me, was when I said, ‘This guy, I’ve got doubts about this guy that are never gonna go away.’ Because others have done things that stupid; he’s the only one to tear an ACL doing something that stupid.”
There are plenty of reasons why bringing back Garoppolo this offseason — either via trade or free agency, if the 49ers cut ties with him — would make sense for the Patriots. The 29-year-old isn’t without his shortcomings, though, and those have been pointed out more frequently in recent days.