3 possible trade destinations for Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo

Which team will Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo suit up for next season? John Kosko examines the most realistic possibilities.

| 2 months ago
Jimmy Garoppolo

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

3 possible trade destinations for Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo


The New England Patriots’ biggest question this offseason is what they will do with backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and by all reports, the organization intends to trade him to the highest bidder. While this is risky on the Patriots’ part—history says Tom Brady likely has one, maybe two good seasons left in his tank—if the market values the backup QB highly, Bill Belichick is looking to gain multiple draft assets.

If Garoppolo is that good, the Patriots should seriously consider keeping him and even franchise tagging him next offseason. It would put the team in a salary cap bind for the 2018 season, but considering that Brady will be 41 years old that season, and no QB in NFL history has had any success starting a season at that age or older (Warren Moon turned 41 late in his final Pro Bowl season before his play declined sharply), the short-term, uncomfortable cap situation would be a long-term benefit. That is, of course, if New England believes Jimmy Garoppolo is of franchise-QB caliber.

No one knows his backup quarterback better than Belichick, but what we have at Pro Football Focus are six quarters of meaningful data on Garoppolo. He struggled in his starting debut, as he was the 25th-graded QB in Week 1 versus Arizona this past season, earning a game grade of 67.1. In that outing, he fumbled once, connected on just four of eight passes over 10 yards (one being a wide open WR Chris Hogan on a busted coverage for a touchdown), and posted a passer rating of just 78.3 under pressure. Week 2 against Miami was a breakout game of sorts, as he graded as the sixth-best passer of the week with a game grade of 85.5—even more impressively, he reached that mark in just two quarters, leaving the game due to injury. Garoppolo performed better in basically every statistical and grading category in his second start, as he posted a passer rating of 125.4 under pressure and connected on 6 of 11 passes for 107 yards and two TDs.

(AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

One of Garoppolo’s intriguing traits is his ability to deliver the ball quickly and accurately. With an average time to throw of 2.27—70.3 percent of his passes were out in under 2.5 seconds—Garoppolo was able to read defenses, make quick decisions, and deliver passes in rhythm. Everything Garoppolo does is fast-paced, from his dropback and his foot movement to his delivery and zip on the ball. While going back over his two games, the only concerns in his game are his durability and whether or not his initial success was due to either the Patriots’ system or the lack of real pro game film on Garoppolo.

All that being said, if the Patriots do ship the former Eastern Illinois standout this offseason, there are three likely destinations he’ll end up: Cleveland, San Francisco, or Chicago. Those three teams are currently set to draft first, second, and third respectively, and have a chance to select a quarterback with their first pick come late April. Considering the perceived weak QB class, however, taking one of the current front-runners is a risk. While we’re still two and half months away from the draft and still have plenty of evaluating to do on this class, I’m going to assume here that each team will pursue Garoppolo, and determine what it would likely take for them to acquire the quarterback without sacrificing their first-first round pick in the process.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns’ analytical approach can actually be pretty easily determined (besides what value they place on Garoppolo), because their current Director of Research and Strategy, Kevin Meers, wrote an article several years ago that took Jimmy Johnson’s famous draft trade value chart and made some much needed updates. He uses Pro Football Reference’s Career Approximate Values (CAV) to determine what each pick’s true value is, and while that’s not a perfect way to determine player value, it gives us insight as to how the Browns approach the draft and this potential trade.

Jimmy Garoppolo was the 62nd pick in the 2014 draft, and in this year’s draft, the Browns hold the first, 12th, 33rd, 50th, and 65th picks, while the Patriots have the 32nd, 64th, and 96th picks in the first three rounds (the Patriots potentially have a compensatory third-round pick acquired in the Jamie Collins trade). Initial reports/sources stated the Patriots wanted compensation similar to what the Eagles received in the Sam Bradford trade—a first and fourth-round pick. Considering the Browns have two first-round picks, they have the ammunition to make this happen, and also considering that the Patriots don’t have a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft, the 12th overall pick and a fourth-round pick next year is in line with what New England wants.

However, I don’t see this scenario happening, as the Browns’ analytical approach covets draft picks, and if that fourth-round pick Cleveland trades is near the top of the round, that package is the equivalent of the fourth overall pick in the draft, based on the chart. Simply put, increasing the value of Garoppolo 58 spots in the draft based on six quarters of play is unlikely. A more likely scenario of the first- and fourth-round picks playing out is if the teams swap first-round picks, which places Garoppolo’s value at the No. 33 pick. Any conversation that starts with a straight first and fourth for Garoppolo won’t have legs when it comes to the Browns.

Another popular trade scenario is trading two second-round picks for Garoppolo. If the Browns trade both of their later second-round picks in 2017 (pick 50) and in 2018 (not set, but assume 50 again), that’s valuing Garoppolo as the 10th overall pick—another unlikely trade scenario. If the Patriots were to throw in their third-round pick (perhaps the compensatory pick they got in the Collins trade), that puts the value of Garoppolo as a late first-round pick, and closer to that No. 33 slot, like in the previous scenario.

Again, we have no idea how the Browns value Garoppolo, and a trade between the two teams will heavily rely on that, but expect the value of the Patriots’ backup to be closer to No. 33 than No. 12, and therefore a package deal that ends up with the Browns holding both their first-round picks and parting with some second-round picks in exchange for Garoppolo and another later-round pick.

San Francisco 49ers

In this scenario, we have no past experience to look at to determine what new GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan will give up to acquire their franchise QB. One reason that the new duo might opt to heavily pursue Garoppolo is the fact that they are five weeks behind every team in the NFL when it comes to scouting and evaluating this class. While a new GM will keep scouts from the previous regime in his first offseason with a team, he still needs to learn about his scouts, and obviously has to do the due diligence himself.

Fortunately for Lynch and the 49ers, they’ll have a bevy of draft picks at their disposal. With a projected 11 picks in the 2017 draft (assuming a fourth-round compensatory pick), San Francisco will have an extra selection in each round of Day 3. While they don’t have extra top-of-the-draft picks like the Browns do, if Lynch and Shanahan feel Garoppolo is their guy and like him over the QBs in this draft class, acquiring him makes sense. Shanahan liked Garoppolo coming out of college, and pushed for drafting him when he was the offensive coordinator with the Browns. If he wanted him in 2014, Garoppolo hasn’t shown anything that would shy Shanahan away now.

The 49ers have arguably a worse QB situation (at the moment) than the Browns. Expect Lynch to try and trade Colin Kaepernick (and fail) before cutting him, as he’s due $19.3 million in 2017 if on the roster after April 1, but just $4.9 million if cut before then. Kaepernick has seen his play drastically decline over the past three seasons without the tutelage of former San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh, and will be hard pressed to see starting action in 2017. With Blaine Gabbert set to hit free agency, the 49ers won’t have a QB on the roster.

With such a big need at the position, a 2018 first-round pick isn’t out of the question. While the Browns actually have QBs on their roster, and at the bare minimum, a good backup in Cody Kessler, the 49ers have zilch. With the QBs in this class all likely needing time on the bench to develop, being aggressive in acquiring Garoppolo by trading a first-round pick in next year’s draft allows the team to draft the best player available at No. 2, and then select a developmental QB later in the 2017 draft. With Garoppolo leading the team in 2017, a full season as a starter would allow the 49ers to assess what they have with Garoppolo, and if he’s as advertised, they’re set.

Of course, a first-round pick is a steep price (as mentioned earlier), but like I said, there is no track history to determine what Lynch and Shanahan will do, what they will covet, and what they prioritize. If a first-round pick in next year’s draft is out of the question, similar scenarios come into play as with the Browns—they’ll just not have the extra picks accumulated to not take the hit. With several later-round picks able to deal, a package of their second, fourth, and fifth-round picks for Garoppolo is a likely scenario. Belichick covets those mid-round picks, and is one of the best at using them to acquire talent.

Chicago Bears

GM Ryan Pace went to Eastern Illinois, and Jimmy Garoppolo is a Chicago native. While playing for his hometown team would be a nice story, there is an actual chance of this becoming reality. What really matters with this is the history of trades that the Bears and Patriots have had over the past two years involving Martellus Bennett, Jon Bostic, and Ryan Groy. This past August, the teams had three days of joint practices before a preseason game, and Pace saw Garoppolo up-close-and-personal during that time. That viewing is extremely important, and considering that Pace and Garoppolo had a long chat after one of the practices, the connection becomes real.

The Bears, though, have a Jay Cutler problem to deal with in the event they trade for Garoppolo. Cutler is due $16 million in 2017, but if cut, will only result in $2 million in dead cap. Ideally the Bears will be able to trade Cutler, but considering his long-standing locker-room issues and inconsistencies on the field, he might not field any offers. Cutler will find a home in 2017, but at this point, it’s unlikely to be in Chicago. Even if the Bears fail to land Garoppolo, Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley played well in spot starts this past season, and the team has the third-overall pick to draft the top QB, if they choose to.

With the Bears holding just seven picks in the 2017 draft—but with two in the fourth—a scenario involving a 2018 second-rounder and a 2017 fourth-rounder isn’t out of the question. Hypotheticals involving the Bears trading back with their third-overall pick are feasible, but considering that the roster isn’t that bad, and suffered mainly from some bad injury luck, getting elite talent might be the best route for the team. Of course, if a QB-needy team wants to trade up, and the Bears get numerous picks in return, by all means, pull the trigger, as it will set them up for future success in drafts.

So, who makes the move?

Of all the teams vying for Jimmy Garoppolo, the Browns have the most ammunition to make it happen. Both the Browns and the Bears have made several trades with the Patriots over the past two years, so the line of communication is open with the relationships positive. As promising as Garoppolo looked in limited action, he’s arguably a bigger risk than drafting one of the top QBs, since the team acquiring him will need to give him a big extension and commit a large sum of money to an unproven player. If Garoppolo is that good and Belichick trades him, expect him to most likely land in Chicago where he won’t contend with New England for the AFC title.

| Analyst

John is an analyst for Pro Football Focus and former safety for the University of Kansas Jayhawks (2004–2006).

  • Roderick Melvin Johnson

    If he gets traded, then it draws either of these two conclusions.

    – He doesn’t have the goods as advertised, otherwise BB would of held on to him
    – He does have the goods, but BB was completely blown away by the draft picks offered

    • penile implant

      “would of”

      How fucking stupid can you be?

    • Rodrigo Campos Pedro

      That’s just wrong.
      He could be 200% better than advertised.
      The Patriots have Tom Brady.All a trade would mean is that they think Brady has considerable time left meaning a good trade to help Brady is better than keeping a guy who may or may not be his sucesor.

  • Ming1942

    On a terrible team, Kaepernick threw 16 TDs with only 4 INTs. He would excel under Shanahan and is meeting with him this week. Kap is signed through 2017 and has not exercised his option. Lynch and Kap have a very good relationship. He gives them extra options to load up on defense and at WR, draft a young QB to develop.

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      well said

    • Oliver Stanley

      I see your logic, but I am concerned all the good vibes and QB coaching in the world cannot help Kap read defenses, work on his mechanics, or complete more 3rd downs. I may be so wrong.

      • crosseyedlemon

        Kappy is too busy making his political views known to the world to worry about such trivial things as mechanics or defensive reads. He has the potential to be an even bigger coaching headache than Cutler.

    • Looney Liberals Lose

      All true. But it’s time to wash this franchise of this social disease.

  • Mr. Wonderful

    Sorry, but this article is the epitome of “analysis paralysis”. It is simple: If you’re a GM (especially a freshly minted one on a bad team) and you think Garoppolo might be a frachise QB, you pull the trigger and trade him with a first round pick. If you count your beans carefully (“Gee, do we trade a second round pick and next year’s fourth round pick?”), another GM will grab him. And if he works out, you’ll be looking for a job within the next two seasons.

    QB is the single most important position in the NFL, as it has the greatest influence on the W-L column. If you as a GM cannot move that W-L within two to three seasons, you’re out of a job. From a behavioral context, that is a greater determinant of trade value than counting the beans.

    • KB

      I had a long post written up but I figured no one would take the time to read it. Instead I’ll just say I’ll strongly agree to disagree with your assessment.

    • 101

      Lol trying to sound smart. Everything you said is bullshit, the quarterback don’t influence the wins loss column at all, the wins loss column is a team effort you stupid cunt! Every position is equally important when it comes to team success because one position can’t do good without good teammates backing him up.

      • http://earthsdestructionchronicle.blogspot.com/ The Observer

        Agree. In Super Bowl 50, the Denver defense crushed the franchise QB Cam Newton and Denver won the Super Bowl with edge rushers and an overall great defense. It just so happens that Manning did not have a good game so that underscores even further what you said, that it was a team effort with one franchise QB in Cam Newton crushed and the other franchise QB Manning having a relatively poor game.

      • Silverwulf

        This may be the stupidest thing I’ve read today. Congrats.

    • 101

      And no you dont just pull the trigger with no regrets you think it through no matter who the player is. The quarterback ain’t the hart and soul of the team, he’s just another player. You are clearly more dumb than any GM bruh, mabey instead of commenting on this article you should shut your mouth cause Nobody cares what u have to say, your peanut sized brain isn’t worth listening to. People like you make me want to rake my eyeballs our. Please, I beg you to just do everyone a favor and kill yourself.

    • http://earthsdestructionchronicle.blogspot.com/ The Observer

      Wrong. PFF did a very good job in this analysis. You sound exactly like the typical drunk NFL fan, throwing money away and draft picks away without giving any rational thought as to what the hell the overall issues a front office has to juggle.

      • Economist

        No, you’re an absolute idiot for discounting the market conditions (poor free agent market, poor draftees) and an entire discipline known as behavioral economics. But thanks for your idiotic commentary.

  • JudoPrince

    QB’s who come out of NE don’t make good QB’s in other systems. The same is likely true for Brady

    • Matthew Pilon

      Sample size of two? Cassel didnt work out, and Hoyer was a good spot starter. Basically you throw that out knowing nothing.

      • crosseyedlemon

        Sample size is at least three if we want to count Jim Plunkett who only managed to lead the Raiders to a championship after the Patriots gave up on him.

      • Tim Edell

        Ryan Mallett makes 3

  • Uncle Drew

    This is a crap article. There’s really no for the Pats to trade Jimmy for those future picks with Tom on the backend of his career. Whoever the Pats would hope to draft have to be NFL ready. You’re blessed if you can find that outside of the 1st round. Whoever the Pats draft needs to be an instant impact player, especially if he’s on offense. Wether that’s a OL, RB, TE.. or on the defensive side, DT, LB, DE… Pats have a great chance of getting that 12th pick from the Browns if they approach it aggressively. .

    Jimmy G, 1st round and 3rd
    For.. 12th pick, Joe Haden..

    NE gets rare draft position and a veteran CB. Browns get a NFL ready, potentially franchise QB. Also keeps both 1st round picks plus the they’ll pick back to back at 32 and 33 along with the third round pick that they gave up for Collins. Pats get an extra weapon that can result in instant success plus a future step in day 1 starter and the Browns get the best QB they’ve had in all the years of drafting and developing QBs plus they get to keep all their picks so they can build a young team.

  • Rolo Tomassi

    The Bears wont make a move for Garopolo. He only played 1 game.
    Cutler Hoyer and Connor Shaw are a good group of QBs. Out of the 3 Cutler is still the best option. You have to he a strong arm to play at Soldiers field and unfortunately have to be able to take a physical beating.
    Garappolo has a weak arm and physically wouldn’t hold up in Chicago.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Garopolo played against both the Cardinals and Dolphins while Brady was out with the suspension.

    • tai

      Lol at Cutler, Hoyer, and Shaw being a good group of QB’s.

      • crosseyedlemon

        He probably meant good in the sense that they can ensure you draft in the top 5 each year.

        • tai

          If you want to pick Top 5, and lose your job they are your men.

      • Tim Edell

        Did you just say Cutler, Hoyer, and gulp a Conner Shaw?

  • crosseyedlemon

    Any way you cut it the Patriots have to have some depth behind Brady. Not sure why Garopolo gets pegged as the expendable QB as he was 2-0 starting and rated 30 points better than Brissett. If you assume the Patriots can be a powerhouse again next year then they have the luxury of developing both backups further before making any decision.
    The Cowboys left themselves desperately thin at QB back in 2015 and when Romo went down the season quickly became a nightmare….Patriots would be wise to avoid putting themselves in a situation that could mirror that.

    • VMI1998

      Because Garappolo has one year left on his rookie contract, the Patriots can’t afford to pay two starting QBs, Brisset has three seasons left on his rookie contract, and Belichick likes to play the market (buy low sell high). The Patriots are trading him for the best offer. In the case of a tie, he’ll end up at the team that’s least likely to cause the Patriots any grief. Remember, Garappolo has to agree to a contract with the new team for all of this to play out.

      • crosseyedlemon

        Patriot fans better hope Belichick doesn’t get market advice from Jim Cramer and I think the team least likely to cause the Patriots any grief are the Toronto Argonauts.

  • Elusive7

    As a Bears fan can I just say HELL NO!!

    Garoppolo is a QB that every team passed on in the 2014 including the Patriots. In three years he’s thrown less than a 100 passes in the QB friendly Pats scheme that has arguably never produced a back up that has had sustained success anywhere else. How does this increase his price from his draft day cost. He was a low second round pick and any team that spends much more than the equivalent in a trade might be in the market to buy some fool’s gold.

    As a Bears fan, that #3 overall pick better go on one of the defensive players seen as value at that pick like Allen, Hooker or Adams.

    • Matthew Pilon

      As much as I would love the 3rd overall for Garoppolo, that is a bad deal. And no GM makes that deal unless the Pats throw a lot in to even it out. The real issue is if the Pats are eyeing a top end talent.

  • John

    For the people who say he’s a product of the Patriots system

    Why don’t I just trade for him and run the same offense?

    I mean the NFL s the ultimate copy cat league

  • RogersRangers

    One 2nd round pick will not get Jimmy G. BB likes this current team and may just decide they don’t think the offers are worth it. Needs 2017 QB insurance. They’ll get a compensatory 3 round pick in 2018 when JG leaves after 2017 season.

  • SoulReavr

    Well kind of torn here. If the Vikings deal is the benchmark now then forget it. Their deal bombed badly and they did not even make the playoffs. Granted there are other factors but bottom line is they over paid. 2nd time they did this not nearly as bad as the first. Where they gave up a crazy amount for Herschal Walker from Dallas This trade was something like 3 first round picks, 3 2nd round picks, and 3 3rd round picks. There were other players but this trade built the Cowboys of the 90s and kept the Vikings from anything good in the 90s.

    2nd concern is that if Belichek does not think Garrapolo is worth keeping when Brady is 39 he is probably not that good. The only I make this trade if I am the Bears is that it is a 3rd round pick this year and 1st or 2nd next year hopefully not the 3rd pick overall again. The bears should not give up that 3rd pick there are good enough players to pick there. Ideally if the Bears do trade and have that 3rd pick to get Garret or Allen either will be studs on Defense and solidify an already decent defense.

  • http://earthsdestructionchronicle.blogspot.com/ The Observer

    The Browns front office has three very, very smart pros. You don’t graduate from Harvard and come out dumb. I think they handled the 2016 draft well and agree 100% in the trade downs. This draft, there is NO WAY the Browns give up 1, 12, or 33. There is too much elite talent to draft in the first 33 picks. The Browns are better off buying a free agent at QB and drafting a QB this year at 52 or 65 to red shirt under the QB they get in FA. Cody Kessler is a good QB and will be better as the O-line gets its injured players back + a draftee and a FA. The defense … this is the key, Jamie Collins is signed, Kirksey has become an NFL leader at MLB and with drafting elite defensive talent at 1, 12 and 33 + Ogbah one more year experience, the Browns have the makings of a good defense, finally allowing the QBs to manage a game better.

    Forget Garoppolo. The Browns don’t need to trash high end draft picks because the Browns have better options at QB.

    • PKLIP

      Crazy to think they have the 1, 12 and 33 picks. I, for one, still think RG3 could potentially pan out for them.

  • Marvin49

    I stopped reading at “Expect Lynch to try and trade Colin Kaepernick (and fail) before cutting him”.

    Uh…Kaepernick can opt out of the deal, so how can the 49ers trade him exactly?

  • Humility

    Time will tell! I doubt anyone posting here will come back and admit their strongly held expletive laden comments were wrong.
    .
    Every year the experts make their cases: Many trades and decisions have been called disasters. Others have been heralded!
    .
    The same experts create articles about draft/trade busts pretending they didn’t mock draft/trade the player to a team themselves.