The New England Patriots have not been afraid to shake things up over the past few years and, boy, did they shake things up in a huge way on Monday night, reportedly for a second-round pick.
It takes a lot to upstage a division rivalry game on a Monday night, but Broncos-Chiefs quickly became an afterthought. Garoppolo was the hottest name in football this offseason, with multiple teams trying to acquire his services and no one being able to lure him away from Bill Belichick.
The most surprising part of this was the Patriots only getting a second-round pick for the backup quarterbackand (multiple firsts). The Pats now have no backup quarterback, but they are basically picking up a late first-round pick in the form of San Francisco's original second-round pick (anything lower than 35 overall would be a surprise). It's possible they could parlay the pick into defensive help.
For more thoughts after talking to GMs regarding Jimmy G trade - Pats will deal this pick by 4pm, most likely for a DL...— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 31, 2017
Meanwhile, the 49ers get their quarterback of the future.
Let's look at some of the knee-jerk winners and losers -- feel free to leave yours in the comments or send them my way on Twitter @WillBrinson.
We should really all apologize for the stupid things we said this offseason. The idea that Brady, the G.O.A.T., was going to get shipped out of town and not end his career with the Patriots after bringing Belichick and Robert Kraft five Super Bowl titles sounds kind of silly when you talk about it now. He is 40 years old, so maybe we all have an excuse. But we basically all bought into the idea that Belichick and the Pats would bet against Brady and keep Garoppolo at the expense of Brady.
The long-time quarterback turned those plans to dust and has put the age of 45 squarely in his sights. Midway through the 2017 season, he is probably the NFL MVP, playing far better than anyone at his age has ever played and buoying a Pats team struggling on defense.
The heir apparent is gone. Long live the King.
The first-year 49ers coach has done a nice job keeping his team competitive in games, but the 49ers have been kicked around the last two weeks, losing to the Cowboys and Eagles by a total of 53 points. They were basically playing for the first overall pick at this point, racing the Browns to the bottom to see who gets the first choice at quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft.
One problem: the quarterbacks don't look so great. That doesn't mean the quarterbacks can't be good once they go through the draft process or that the 49ers wouldn't be interested in one of them.
It's just that Garoppolo, for all of his unknowns, has played at the NFL level, in actual games, and looked good doing it. He is only 26 years old, so Shanahan, who loved him coming out of Eastern Illinois (and wanted the Browns to draft him), will get Jimmy G in his prime. The 49ers need a lot of pieces but they theoretically no longer need a quarterback. That's a huge plus for the young head coach.
You could argue that the best-case scenario for Garoppolo would be to play out his current contract and hit the open market, where he could name his price and name his team. But the Patriots were probably going to franchise tag him and look for a trade this offseason, or tag him and squat on him as expensive insurance for one more year. He was going to have a tough time controlling his destiny.
Now he lands in a spot where he is tied to a coach with a significant history of helping out quarterbacks. Shanahan helped engineer a historical season from Matt Ryan last year in Atlanta and was behind the wheel for a historical rookie year for Robert Griffin III. He also kickstarted Kirk Cousins' career in Washington.
The 49ers need pieces around Garoppolo and this is not an easy situation to win out of the gate, but he now gets half a season to acclimate himself and a full offseason with the 49ers as well. The team can go into free agency and the draft planning to build around him.
Any team who was hoping to get a look at Garoppolo is a little miffed about the way this unfolded, and it apparently unfolded in pretty quick fashion, as Adam Schefter of ESPN reported at halftime of Broncos-Chiefs that the two teams started talking on Monday morning about the deal. So anyone else who wanted to make a deal happen never really got a look at any kind of deal.
On the other hand, any team that wants to get a quarterback in the draft -- both the Jets and Browns certainly qualify -- just lost a major competitor for the top talent that's available. The Giants, Steelers, Chargers and Cardinals are also winners here, because they could potentially pick up a first-round talent that might otherwise land with the 49ers.
It looked like the Patriots were prepared for life after Brady with Garoppolo on the roster. Assuming you believe that Belichick knows what he's doing when it comes to evaluating players, it was fair to assume that Garoppolo was going to be a problem after Brady retired. At some point, the Patriots were going to face a seamless success from Brady to Garoppolo and it was going to mean more years of winning for the Patriots.
New England isn't going to magically start losing now or anything, but life after Brady becomes a little bit cloudier. And there might be a light at the end of the tunnel for the Jets, Bills and Dolphins, who have struggled under the thumb of Belichick and Brady for nearly two decades. The last two times a non-Pats team won the division was 2008 (Dolphins, when Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1) and 2002 (the Jets). Someone throw this division a fricking bone.
The Browns have had, ahem, one or two issues when it comes to finding a quarterback. They were the primary team tied to Garoppolo rumors this offseason, but nothing ever materialized. Perhaps that's a result of some hard feelings -- the Browns fired Belichick back in 1996 (technically the Ravens fired him, but you get the point).
Would love to know if Browns had any shot at Jimmy G. Some around the league believe BB wouldn't consider "helping" them at QB. Old feelings— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) October 31, 2017
We all thought that Cleveland needed to give up multiple first-round picks in order to get Garoppolo. As it turns out, the Browns might have only offered a second-round pick during the 2017 NFL Draft.
Which means that if Cleveland had been willing to up its offer to the Patriots, perhaps Garoppolo moves during the draft. Maybe a first-rounder is too rich, but if Jimmy G is good in San Francisco, it's going to be another quarterback the Browns missed on. That will become a thing if he ends up winning games for the 49ers.
This feels dangerous, because it's betting against the greatest coach in NFL history. And please don't take a screenshot of this when the Pats win the Super Bowl again this year and tweet it at me.
Let's be real here, though: New England did not get the value we thought they would when it came to Garoppolo. It's not impossible they ultimately package this pick with a player and deal it for a defensive lineman or someone who can help the defense. Doing so would be a nice win-now moment in a league where you should always operate in win-now mode.
But the Patriots now set themselves up in a position where they have no real backup plan for Brady. If the goal was to get as much value out of Garoppolo, it's hard to believe they've done that. Additionally, the Patriots gave away Jacoby Brissett (albeit while getting Philip Dorsett back). Trading Garoppolo this offseason, keeping Brissett and not vacating the quarterback depth chart feels like it would have been the smarter play.
Hindsight is 20/20, of course, and Garoppolo was either going to cost a franchise tag or walk in free agency. There wasn't a deal to be done. So the Patriots got value now. But the way it played out is just bizarre.
This is not to say that Cousins will suffer badly as a result of Garoppolo going to the 49ers. But this is to note that one team in desperate need of a quarterback and with a lot of salary cap space just acquired a quarterback who they are going to give a ton of money. Cousins is going to still get paid and there will be teams interested in paying him.
And idea that the Jimmy G trade limits Cousins value is shortsighted. Plenty of teams would want him (AZ, NYJ, CLE) and he's already paid— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 31, 2017
But the 49ers were at the top of the list in terms of teams who might be interested in Cousins. He played for Shanahan previously, he had success in the system and it's a team in need of a quarterback. The 49ers were going to help drive up his price and now they won't be involved in the bidding. That does not improve Cousins standing.
2018 QB class
What does it say about this class that the 49ers, who are 0-7 and trending towards a top pick, decided to deal away what will be a top-40 pick in exchange for a quarterback? It says that guys like Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen have not elevated their games over the course of the season to the point that anyone can feel confident about drafting them high.
It's also not factually known that the guys are leaving school. But if they do, they won't find the QB-friendly arms of Shanahan waiting. Instead it looks like Browns and Jets will be the primary suitors in the draft. Good luck with that, young men.
The Patriots cornerback could see one of two things happen. He could stick around New England, which would make him a big loser, because the Pats, with Garoppolo off the books, would no longer need to use the tag on their backup quarterback. Instead they could tag Butler. That would be a dagger for a guy who wants to get paid.
On the other hand, Butler could be traded out of New England as part of a package to move the pick acquired in the Garoppolo deal.
I also continue to hear the Pats still open to trading Malcolm Butler, who could be paired with that 2nd rnd pick for quality player— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 31, 2017
If that's the case, it's wide open as to whether or not he "wins" in this situation, although if his ultimate goal is to get paid, then being part of a package trade to another franchise would be a huge win, because he would likely end up getting a new high-priced as a result. We'll leave that one as a TBD for now.