Will Jimmy Garoppolo Ever Play for the Patriots Again?

In case you aren’t a Patriots die-hard like myself and didn’t watch every play Jimmy Garoppolo took under center so far this season before being injured in the second quarter yesterday against the Dolphins, I’ll save you the trouble: he is completely legit and the hype is real.

Does it help to watch Mr. Bundchen every day for two years and be coached by Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels, not to mention have every good white wide receiver this side of Eric Decker running free in front of you? Uhh, can Jimmy G get laid on a Friday night in Back Bay? But everyone needs help to be good  – just ask Andrew Luck. Take a look at these throws from his first ever career start and ask yourself if you would want him on your team for the next ten years.

Not to mention, he was even better yesterday before being slammed onto his throwing shoulder by Kiko Alonso. When this play knocked him out of the game, he was 18-27 for 234 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. Against a feisty front seven that gave Russell Wilson fits during Week 1.

However, absent some futuristic strand of HGH, Garoppolo sure as hell ain’t coming back this Thursday to face the Texans and will be lucky to be back under center by Week 4 vs the Bills. And in case you forgot, the Patriots have a preferable option under center starting in Week 5. So absent a Brady injury or any kind of Week 17 mop-up duty, Week 4 is probably Garoppolo’s only realistic option to start again before next fall.

Next fall is certainly no gimme though. It is hard to imagine (although not impossible – we are dealing with Bill Belichick) the Patriots moving on from Brady after this season, and after next year Jimmy G will be an unrestricted free agent. Ideally, I bet New England would prefer that Brady retires or leaves in free agency after the 2017 season and they can sign Garoppolo to a big deal and let him slide right in.

Brady isn’t planning on being done after next season though, and if he is still playing at a high level it would be extremely hard for even Belichick to move on. The guy treats his body better than any elite athlete in recent memory and appears to be all-in on playing well into his 40’s. Which means that trading Garoppolo before they lose him in free agency is probably on the table – and judging by the way he has played so far and the general level of QB play around the league – they could get a haul that would make FOB (friend of Bill) Jimmy Johnson proud.

In that scenario the Patriots would turn Garoppolo into at least two first round picks that they could add to an already loaded core and ride the Brady/Belichick train for at least 3-4 more seasons. At which point, maybe Brady and Belichick retire with another ring or two and the team starts over with Josh McDaniels as coach and either Jacoby Brissett or someone else at QB. The risk there is that they trade Garoppolo and then Brady falls off a cliff and they are left with a loaded team but no great option at the most important position (paging John Elway).

You have to imagine that Belichick and McDaniels want to find a way to keep Garoppolo around for the long-term after seeing how successfully he ran the offense against real competition, but you don’t replace the GOAT before he starts to decline and market realities may force them to part ways with the new guy before he gets back to the top of the depth chart. The position is so important that I could see teams just bidding more and more until the value-seeking gene in Belichick forced him to make a deal.

And that would leave Sunday October 2 vs the Bills as his last chance to start a game for the Patriots, as weird as that may sound.

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