As if Jarrett Stidham needed any more pressure heading into 2020.
After the New England Patriots saw Tom Brady head south to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency and didn't do much of anything over the subsequent weeks in free agency or at the draft, it would appear like Bill Belichick is set to roll the dice with Stidham, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2019 draft, as his quarterback heading into this season. At the very least, the young quarterback is going to be given every chance imaginable to grab ahold of the starting job under center.
Not only does Stidham have the less-than-desirable position of being "the guy" after "the guy" in Foxborough, but the infamous Jimmy Garoppolo trade from 2017 also looms large. Why? Because Stidham is actually one of the numerous byproducts from what has grown to be a rather complicated deal.
At the time, the Pats shipped off Garoppolo to San Francisco for the No. 43 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Pretty simple one-for-one deal, right? Well, once the draft came later that year, Bill Belichick and company wheeled-and-dealed to the point where that singular pick was broken down and spread out through multiple selections and multiple drafts that just ended this year at the 2020 draft.
CBS Boston's Michael Hurley cannonballed deep into the rabbit hole to highlighted the many moves that have gone on since Garoppolo was dealt to the Bay Area, including the path that led Stidham to New England. In all, eight players were drafted by the Patriots either directly or indirectly from assets acquired from the number of deals they made following the Garoppolo blockbuster.
Who came in:
- Cornerback Duke Dawson (2018)*
- Linebacker Christian Sam (2018)*
- Cornerback Joejuan Williams (2019)
- Running back Damien Harris (2019)
- Offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste (2019)
- Quarterback Jarrett Stidham (2019)
- Tight end Dalton Keene (2020)
- Offensive lineman Justin Herron (2020)
*no longer on the roster
Off the jump, the 2018 draft was essentially a swing and a miss for New England in terms of their return for Garoppolo. Duke Dawson never lived up to his second-round billing and was traded Denver last summer (resulted in OL Justin Herron). Linebacker Christian Sam also was a non-factor for the club and was released prior to last season.
The jury is still out on the rest of bunch in terms of what they'll actually become in the NFL as Joejuan Williams, Damien Harris, and Yodny Cajuste all either played in very limited action or not at all during their first year in the league in 2019. Keene and Herron, of course, are rookies. If one or a number of those players listed above become perennial All-Pros, then you're looking at the Patriots a bit more favorably in this deal.
That said, Stidham is really the headliner of this group. After all, the Patriots traded a quarterback who many viewed as the heir apparent to Tom Brady and now Stidham, who was brought in thanks to that trade, is currently in line to do just that.
At the time, the Garoppolo trade was a controversial one, but because of New England reaching the Super Bowl twice and hoisting another Lombardi Trophy upon his departure, it's hard to really argue with the decision looking back. Still, with Brady now in Tampa and Garoppolo helping San Francisco to a Super Bowl LIV appearance last season, it does make you wonder whether or not they'd be better off for the next decade if they had sacrificed that Super Bowl LIII win over the Rams and had chosen Garoppolo over Brady following 2017. You're probably still taking the championship, but it's an interesting "what If?" at the very least.
This is essentially why Jarrett Stidham's development is intriguing here. It's obviously insane and unrealistic to expect him to simply slot in for Brady and continue New England's historic run of success. But, if he can keep the Patriots competitive and eventually prove to be a viable starter for Belichick, he will not only have smoothly ushered in the post-Brady era, but have made the trade of Jimmy Garoppolo back in 2017 a bit more palatable now that a young, talented player is solidified under center for years to come.
No pressure, Jarrett. No pressure.