Fourth-year Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is going west to try to help save the franchise that Tom Brady grew up watching. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Garoppolo only commanded a 2018 second-round pick from the 49ers in terms of compensation, a surprisingly low price tag, considering Garoppolo’s pedigree and excellent, if brief, two-game stretch as the Patriots‘ starter early last season.
Rumors and reports about the cost of acquiring Garoppolo surfaced throughout the offseason, with little hard reporting on actual offers. While it was believed the Patriots wanted first-round picks in exchange for him, Rapoport reports that the Cleveland Browns only offered a second-round pick and change during the 2017 NFL Draft. The Patriots wound up passing on that deal before making this move six months later.
With the NFL trading deadline approaching Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, there has already been more action in the past few days than during many entire trading seasons. Houston dealt tackle Duane Brown to Seattle on Monday, while defensive tackle Marcell Dareus went from Buffalo to Jacksonville on Friday. Let’s break down the winners and losers from the trade deadline, with special attention paid to the Jimmy G. stunner:
Jimmy Garoppolo‘s agent, Donald Yee: Tom Brady and Garoppolo share an agent, which always seemed like an unfortunate coincidence at best and a conflict of interest at worst. Now Yee’s other quarterback joins a 49ers team presumably willing to let him start sooner than later, an opportunity Garoppolo has been waiting for since getting drafted in the second round in 2014 from Eastern Illinois.
Yee also has incredible leverage, with Garoppolo finishing out the end of his rookie contract. The 0-8 49ers wouldn’t give up such a valuable pick unless they believed Garoppolo could be a long-term answer. The 49ers should only have made this trade if they were prepared to give Garoppolo a long-term contract or use the franchise tag on him in 2018. One bonus to the deal for the 49ers: They get to evaluate the prospective free agent in their building and on the field for the rest of the season.
Tom Brady‘s long-term future in New England: Questioning the job security of
the best quarterback of 2017 feels strange, but Brady
is 40 years old, after all. It had to make Brady a little edgy to contemplate a 2018 season in which Garoppolo was on the roster making big money as a backup behind him. That’s not going to happen now.
Brady’s refusal to age has helped ensure he’s outlasted all the high draft picks taken behind him this decade: Garoppolo, Ryan Mallett, Jacoby Brissett. Based on the Patriots‘ track record, I’d expect them to draft another quarterback in 2018.
Kyle Shanahan, 49ers coach: Shanahan’s track record as a coordinator makes it clear he’s a difference-making offensive mind. But this season in San Francisco has helped to show the limits of any coach. NFL teams are always about the players, and this
49ers offense just doesn’t have enough talent. It’s not just that they’re struggling; they’re struggling mostly with players who won’t be around if and when the team is ever good again.
Garoppolo gives Shanahan a base to build an offense from. A competent quarterback with timing and athleticism should help bring the best out of veteran wideout Pierre Garcon and rookie tight end George Kittle, who have both played well in difficult circumstances this season. This 49ers offense needs an identity, and Garoppolo gives it to them, rather than waiting to find out what’s behind door No. 2 in free agency or the 2018 NFL Draft.
Brian Hoyer: Yes, Hoyer was informed of his impending release Monday by the 49ers, according to Rapoport. His tenure there was a disappointment. But if Hoyer was going to back up a third-round rookie like C.J. Beathard on a winless team, wouldn’t he rather have the opportunity to sign elsewhere? Like, say, with a Patriots team that he’s already familiar with and has no quarterbacks except Brady on the roster?
NFL fans: Perhaps Garoppolo will prove me wrong, but now we have one more team with an entertaining quarterback to watch for the rest of the season. Hoyer and Beathard were making the 49ers‘ offense tough to watch.
NFL insiders on trade deadline day: Doesn’t the Patriots‘ acquisition of this draft pick make a corresponding move including this pick, possibly for some defensive talent, more likely on Tuesday? I say yes. The Patriots have already made eight trades this season, two more than their league-leading total of six last season. Bring on the trades!
Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Doug Marrone: Both men are clearly all in on the 2017 season after the deal for Marrone’s former player in Buffalo, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Tom Coughlin’s presence in Jacksonville’s front office made this feel like a win-or-else season for the brass below him. They are in fine position to ride their loaded defense to playoff contention, something that hasn’t happened since 2010.
Duane Brown, Seahawks tackle: Brown, who held out for the first seven weeks of the season, clearly had problems with the Texans organization well before owner Bob McNair’s remark at the NFL’s Fall League Meeting. Brown now joins a franchise accustomed to contending for titles and handing out big deals to veteran players. Brown’s desire for a new contract likely increased with the trade. (Brown should give a finder’s fee to former teammate Jadeveon Clowney, who highlighted the pressing need for a new Seahawks left tackle during Sunday’s game between Houston and Seattle.)
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson: One man can’t save an entire offensive line, but Brown can at least fortify Seattle’s biggest problem. Seahawks left tackle Rees Odhiambo was the lowest-graded player by Pro Football Focus at any position by far through eight weeks. This is a roster ready to win a Super Bowl this season, and Brown gives Wilson a better chance to spin some magic with his young group of receivers.
Texans general manager Rick Smith: The Texans won their staredown with Brown when he returned to work without getting any extra money, going 3-3 without him along the way. Then the team got incredible value in return for Brown: cornerback Jeremy Lane, a second-round pick in 2019 and a fifth-round pick in 2018, a source informed of the deal told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.
Brown has been one of the greatest Texans players of all time, but he’s 32 years old, and his future in Houston seemed unlikely to last beyond 2017, considering all the acrimony between him and the team. This is a move that makes the Texans better long-term and gives them a much-needed extra cornerback for this season.
Deshaun Watson, Texans quarterback: It’s uncomfortable to write Watson’s name even near the word “loser” after his jaw-dropping performance in Seattle on Sunday, but the Texans made his life harder by trading Brown. The team appears to have faith in backup Chris Clark, who is coming off an injury and was ranked No. 56 out of 73 tackles by Pro Football Focus this season. Texans right tackle Breno Giacomini is ranked No. 72.
Watson takes pressure off his offensive linemen with his running ability, but the Texans could be asking too much of the rookie quarterback. While the move makes sense long-term for Houston, the team’s chances to win a third straight AFC South title went down a tick after this trade.
Kirk Cousins, Redskins quarterback: Don’t cry for Kirk, but he lost some leverage in his next contract negotiations with Washington. The 49ers were always believed to be the most likely Cousins destination if he ever hit free agency, because of his history with Shanahan. Barring a total meltdown by Garoppolo, the San Francisco job appears to be taken. For Cousins, who is set to potentially hit the market in 2018, it’s less about losing any dollars and more about losing perhaps his best chance for success with a coach who accentuates his strengths.
Cleveland Browns: They went after Garoppolo during the 2017 NFL Draft, according to Rapoport, but couldn’t close the deal. Seeing him go to San Francisco for less than they offered back in April has to be frustrating for a fan base that watched the team pass on Carson Wentz and Watson the last two years, among other quarterback options. All of the Browns‘ moves or non-moves make sense in a vacuum, but there’s something to be said for having the conviction to find a quarterback they truly believe in. Add Garoppolo to the long list of players who weren’t that guy.
Rex Ryan, former Bills coach: Buffalo continues to trade away many of Rex’s key players — Dareus, cornerback Ronald Darby and linebacker Reggie Ragland — and the Bills are playing far better defense without them.
C.J. Beathard, 49ers quarterback: The third-round pick out of Iowa could get one more start in San Francisco as Garoppolo gets up to speed with the offense, but Beathard’s stay in the top job will turn out to be brief, with some grisly numbers to show for it (completed 58 of 110 passes for 647 yards, two touchdowns, three picks, 11 sacks and a 65.2 passer rating in four games — two starts).
AFC South running backs: The book was out on the Jaguars‘ defense. Their pass defense is ridiculously difficult to handle, but teams could do some damage against them on the ground. The acquisition of Dareus will make that endeavor tougher when the Jaguars put him next to Calais Campbell and Malik Jackson in their front.
Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.
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