New England Patriots

In the hours leading up to the NFL Trade Deadline, the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick made the difficult decision to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

According to Seth Wickersham of ESPN, Belichick met with Patriots owner Robert Kraft for a lengthy period of time to discuss the quarterback situation before the decision was made.

By the time the meeting concluded, it was evident that Belichick had a “mandate” to trade Garoppolo because the QB wasn’t going to be part of the team’s long-term future, according to Wickersham.

By completing the blockbuster trade, a reportedly “furious” Belichick must now go find another quarterback to develop in the upcoming NFL Draft and hope Brady can last another few years so the next guy has some time to be groomed. But hey, Brady says he’s playing until he’s 45, so we have plenty of time, right?

A new element came to light in this saga over the weekend. So, according to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Robert Kraft says he “didn’t order the trade and didn’t meet at length in the weeks before the trade with Belichick.”

“I spoke with Bill about it the Monday before the trade deadline. He called me on that Monday and said he got a deal with San Francisco, Jimmy for a second-round pick and [quarterback] Brian Hoyer. Turns out they had to cut Hoyer and then we got him. But really, this was basically a second-round pick and Brian Hoyer for Jimmy. Bill asked me if I was OK with this. I was really taken aback a little bit. I wanted to think about it. I talked to Jonathan, who was okay with it, and I called Bill back and said, ‘OK.’”

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One of the biggest contributing factors in the Garoppolo trade was that he allegedly declined multiple four-year extension offers from the Patriots. And each deal was supposedly in the $17 million to $18 million range annually, and held the potential to go higher, if and when, he succeeded Brady, according to Wickersham.

Apparently those offers weren’t good enough since Garoppolo and agent Don Yee rejected these offers for reasons we still don’t know and may never know. If the Patriots had the ability to promise or provide a timeline to Garoppolo about when he would be transitioning to QB1, would that have made a difference in his decision? Maybe a shorter deal could’ve been enticing so Garoppolo had an out if the timeline hit another wall? Or why didn’t the Patriots just tag him for a year to see what Brady was bringing in 2018? These are some questions we may never get answers to.

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It appears that Belichick was hesitant to trade the young quarterback because if he really wanted to move him, he would’ve done it earlier in the year when the return was reportedly greater. Or he could’ve waited until the offseason to make a deal when teams are clamoring for a quarterback.

The deal with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers was allegedly done in barely no time and the return of the a second-round pick had the perception of being a “low” return for the promising, young quarterback.

“One morning in late October, Belichick texted San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and asked him to call. Belichick had long admired Kyle’s father, Mike, who not only had been one of the NFL’s smartest tacticians but had also personally defended Belichick to commissioner Roger Goodell during the Spygate scandal. At the combine this past February, Kyle, weeks into the 49ers job after being the offensive coordinator for the Falcons, met with Belichick for hours to learn from his team’s humiliating Super Bowl loss. Belichick believed that Garoppolo would excel under Shanahan, and when he and Shanahan connected on the phone, Belichick offered the quarterback for a second-rounder.”

So essentially Belichick did Shanahan a solid, while covering his own butt by moving Garoppolo out of the division and the conference, to avoid frequent opposition from his former quarterback. Smooth move, Bill.

Everything now comes full circle to this major question: Did Brady play a role in trading Garoppolo? Yes. To what extent? It’s to be determined.

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An aging Tom Brady, 40, who’s playing at an MVP-level is really putting a kink in the Patriots future. Think about when the Packers moved on from Brett Favre or the 49ers moved on from Joe Montana. These franchises were able to identify that it was time to move on from their franchise quarterbacks.

You can argue that each player was moved on from because of their play on the field, their deteriorating bodies, or the simple fact that their predecessors were waiting in the wings. The decision to move on to the next guy was more than likely made easier, because they had the heirs to the QB thrown already in the system and were ready for the next step. We all know the Patriots believe in the “next man up” mantra, but who will now be the “next man up” with Garoppolo now out of the picture?

This begs the question: Why all of a sudden are the Patriots doing the opposite of what they’re known to do when it comes to aging and/or declining players? Usually they’re the ones to move on from a player a year early, rather than a year late. At this point it’s fair to say that Tom Brady is paving out his own “Patriot Way.”

Jimmy Garoppolo #10, Jacoby Brissett #7 and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots chat before a preseason game with the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on August 31, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Now if Brady played a greater role in Garoppolo’s progression and growth and was more helpful, would Garoppolo have considered staying in New England? Because, according to Wickersham, Brady isn’t much help, like his counterparts, when it comes to his backups, especially ones like Garoppolo.

Either way, we have conflicting stories on the trading of Garoppolo, but needless to say, Belichick found a trade partner, Kraft OK’d the deal, and the potential future starting quarterback of the Patriots was sent packing to the West Coast.

The future here in New England is now a bit murky with the Patriots sitting here without an heir to the QB thrown once Brady decides to hang it up or they finally decide to move him, which will never happen now, because if it was to happen, why trade Jimmy G?

—  By John ‘The Dude’ Hardiman, 985TheSportsHub.com

John Hardiman is a Digital Producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for John? Hit him up on Twitter @HardiDude or e-mail him at john.hardiman@bbgi.com.