The Patriots made the sudden decision to move Jimmy Garoppolo at the last second when they were up against the trade deadline, scooping up a second-round pick from the 49ers in exchange for their backup quarterback. It caught everyone off guard, because the Patriots had seemed adamant about not dealing Garappolo. (Almost as off guard as John Lynch caught Bill Belichick when he asked to trade for Tom Brady.)

According to Belichick in a Monday interview with Dale Holley of WEEI, as transcribed by Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, the Patriots' insistence on not dealing Garoppolo this offseason was not a bluff. They were not planning on trading him. There was "no market" for Garoppolo because the Patriots weren't interested in a deal. 

"Uh, yeah, that's a tough question. Yeah I don't know, I really don't know. There was no market to trade Jimmy in April on our end. I don't really care what the offer was, so I don't even know what the offers were or would've been. There was no interest in our end in making the deal, so it didn't really matter what the offer was or what the offer would've been. I don't really know what they were because we didn't entertain it. So I said I feel like we had the best depth at that position. probably of any team in the league -- or at least we felt like we did. Maybe other teams that felt differently, I don't know. But we had great depth at that position. 

"It's a tremendous situation to have two quarterbacks of the caliber that we've had for the past, call it 2.5 years when Jimmy was ready. Unfortunately it just wasn't sustainable."

The confusing thing about all of this is the potential haul the Patriots could have received this offseason from various teams, if you believe the reports out there about what the Browns might have been willing to offer -- multiple first-round picks and the like. 

Again and again and again and again the Patriots declined to negotiate with the Browns, instead choosing to keep Garoppolo on the roster as a backup quarterback. They were heading into the season with reigning Super Bowl MVP Brady starting, but with Brady careening past the age of 40, he only had so much football left. 

Or maybe not. The only way to justify the change in approach here is to assume that Brady plans on playing until he's 45. And that Belichick and Garoppolo both realized the veracity of the claim about a quarter of the way through the season. There would be no decline and, as such, Garoppolo probably decided that he would not be sticking around New England to serve as the heir apparent. You can't blame him: if you sign a lower-cost deal that balloons at the end when you're supposed to be starter, you might not see the field until the age of 28. Maybe later if Brady keeps playing well. 

The only chance for Garoppolo to be a starter was to ride out the contract situation or to get traded. In this case the Patriots got the most value they could at that point in time with Garoppolo. 

It's the only way to explain why Belichick's approach changed so quickly from April to October.