Jimmy Garoppolo, by most accounts, was popular in New England during his three-plus seasons with the Patriots.
Many former teammates, for instance, have spoken highly of Garoppolo, on the record, and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has been effusive in his praise of the quarterback since trading him to the San Francisco 49ers in October 2017.
This, coupled with New England’s uncertainty under center in wake of Tom Brady’s departure and Cam Newton’s underwhelming 2020 season, is reason enough to connect the dots on a possible reunion, especially if the Niners draft a QB next month and thereby consider cutting ties with Jimmy G.
According to Wiggins, some of Garoppolo’s former Patriots teammates were skeptical of the Eastern Illinois product during his New England tenure (2014-17).
“My sources here tell me, and I didn’t really want to say this, but they used to look at Jimmy G a little sideways,” Wiggins said on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show.” “Like, he was kind of a little bit Mr. Glass — and I’m not talking about the Sam Jackson character — where they were like, ‘Can’t really depend on him. Can’t stay on the field.’ “
Pressed on the identities of his “sources,” Wiggins replied, “Let’s just say they were between the lines,” seemingly implying that we’re dealing with players rather than coaches.
“Between the lines, they looked at him a little bit like, ‘Hmm, can we really count on this dude? Can we really count on him,’ ” Wiggins added.
This, of course, flies in the face of the mutual admiration that’s been expressed publicly in recent years. Still, it’s a notable wrinkle when juxtaposed with reports this offseason that Garoppolo remains on the Patriots’ radar as they figure out their quarterback situation ahead of the 2021 campaign.
Just be sure to take Wiggins’ report with a grain of salt. After all, injuries have been an issue for Garoppolo in his NFL career. And occasionally, performance has been, too. But those concerns weren’t as prevalent during his time as Brady’s backup in New England. They’ve more so been a San Francisco problem. Therefore, it’s tough to figure out the genesis of the supposed skepticism in Foxboro.
It’s also unclear whether Wiggins’ “sources” remain with the organization, as he wouldn’t specify. The Patriots’ roster has experienced ample turnover since Garoppolo’s departure, with this offseason, in particular, bringing in a whole new wave of personnel via free agency.
All told, the Garoppolo-Patriots chatter figures to intensify now that the 49ers own the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft after a blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins last week. The Niners reportedly insist they’re keeping Garoppolo for the upcoming season, but that could just be a ploy to salvage his trade value. And the Patriots still could use an upgrade at quarterback despite re-signing Newton.