The New England Patriots could add their next starting quarterback this week — and it might not be a 2021 draft pick.
NBC Sports’ Peter King on Monday floated the possibility of the Patriots swinging a draft-week (or draft-day) trade for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who began his career in Foxboro.
The 49ers are poised to draft their QB of the future after acquiring the third overall pick, and though head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have said they plan to keep Garoppolo as their short-term starter, King believes their asking price for the former Patriots backup will drop.
“It won’t surprise me if the Niners make Jimmy Garoppolo more available than he’s been,” King wrote in his “Football Morning in America” column. “In other words, instead of trying to get a first-round pick for him, maybe considering taking a two for him. I wonder if the Patriots would deal the 46th pick in the draft, or their second-rounder in 2022, for their old friend.”
According to multiple reports, San Francisco is deciding between Alabama’s Mac Jones and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance at No. 3. Choosing Jones would increase the odds of a Garoppolo trade, as Lance — who competed in the lower-level FCS and has played just one game in the last 15 months — is more likely to need a year of seasoning before he’s ready to start at the NFL level.
Injuries have been a major issue for Garoppolo, who’s struggled to stay on the field for the 49ers, but he quarterbacked them to a Super Bowl appearance just two years ago, starting all 16 games that season.
The Patriots’ quarterback depth chart currently features Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala. King believes Bill Belichick is more likely to acquire Garoppolo than trade up from No. 15 for a rookie QB (Lance, Jones or Justin Fields).
“So many options for New England on draft weekend, and you know most of them,” King wrote. “You know the option I just don’t see? Bill Belichick trading a gold mine to move up eight or 11 spots to get the quarterback of the future. I think he’s much more likely to deal for Jimmy Garoppolo (but not with a first-round pick), or to draft a Kyle Trask in the second or third round, or play it out with Cam Newton this year and then see what happens next offseason. Maybe Garoppolo’s on the street by then, or maybe Matt Ryan is.”
ESPN’s Mel Kiper said Monday he would be “really surprised” if the Patriots did not trade up to draft a quarterback. NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero reported New England has placed calls to teams picking in the top 10 and that “teams that have gotten those calls believe that their target would be Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.”