ESPN’s Adam Schefter has covered all of the bases when discussing a possible trade for New England Patriots back-up QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Schefter has reported that a source close to the situation would be “stunned” if the Patriots traded Garoppolo. He has also speculated that the Patriots would start discussions at a 1st and a 4th round pick, a la the Vikings trade for QB Sam Bradford. He followed that up by saying that the Patriots would get a minimum of a 1st round pick.
Other tapped in reporters have agreed with Schefter’s assessment, as have former NFL general managers. A recent study by The Big Lead’s Jason Lisk shows that Garoppolo isn’t just worth a 1st round pick- he’s more likely to succeed than a pick in the top 5.
Lisk argues that the 25-year-old Garoppolo is younger than Raiders MVP-candidate QB Derek Carr, and barely a year older than Eagles 2nd overall pick and rookie QB Carson Wentz- and Garoppolo easily has more quality experience and film than Wentz did when the Eagles traded a 1st round pick, a 3rd, a 4th, along with a future 1st and future 2nd, to acquire him in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Lisk looked back over 30 years of transactions to find quarterbacks of Garoppolo’s age (25-28 years old) that were acquired with less than one season of starting experience to see how they succeeded over the next five years, and compared them to the first five years of 1st round quarterbacks.
Quarterbacks like Garoppolo- which includes the like of Matt Hasselbeck, Mark Brunnell, and Matt Schaub- start at least 8 games 71% of the time, they’re above average 44% of the time, and elite 10% of the time. They end up starting 8+ years 20% of the time.
It’s clear that can’t-miss quarterbacks selected 1st overall- like Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck- are better investments than acquiring a quarterback; 1st overall quarterbacks start 8+ years in the NFL 69% of the time and are also elite 10% of the time.
But it seems like trading for a player like Garoppolo yields better results than any other draft pick.
Quarterbacks drafted 2nd to 5th overall start 8+ games 69% of the time and are elite 7% of the time, but they’re above average only 23% of the time. Those drafted 6th to 17th only start 8+ games 49% of the time, are above average just 19% of the time, and elite only 4% of the time. Garoppolo-types are four-times more likely to be successful than quarterbacks selected 18th to 32nd overall.
So when the Patriots start the price discussion for Garoppolo, they should point at the weak class of quarterbacks entering the draft, the laughable success rate of 1st round quarterbacks taken outside of the top 3, and whether or not Garoppolo is a more sure-fire bet than any other draft prospect. The Patriots could also highlight that Garoppolo showed more potential in 6 quarters of football than most of the other quarterbacks that were acquired in Lisk’s study.
It’s important to note that teams that trade up for quarterbacks aren’t giving up all of these draft picks without compensation in return. When Washington traded up for Robert Griffin III and the 2nd overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, they gave up their 6th overall pick; all of the other draft picks were really to make up the difference between the 6th and 2nd picks.
The same applies to the 2016 NFL Draft; The Titans traded down from the 1st overall pick to the 15th overall, while the Rams sent additional 2nd and 3rd round picks, and a future 1st to split the difference. The Eagles gave up a future 1st for the right to move up from 8th overall to 2nd overall.
The Patriots will never receive a top 5 pick straight up for Garoppolo because teams never “give up” a top 5 pick for the right to draft a rookie quarterback. Instead, we have to look at the premiums that teams pay for the right to acquire a top 5 quarterback talent.
In general, teams give up draft value premium equivalent to a late-1st round pick to a mid-2nd round pick for the right to select a quarter at the top of the draft. Trades that involve established NFL talent like Bradford or Alex Smith or Matt Cassel actually yield more value because they don’t involve swapping first round picks.
The Vikings paid more for Bradford (a 1st and a 4th) and the Chiefs paid more for Smith (two 2nds) and their established NFL ability than the Eagles did to move up and acquire Carson Wentz or the Rams did to acquire Jared Goff (both gave up roughly a mid-2nd in draft capital). This is what the Patriots will argue.
In a draft without a surefire #1 overall prospect like Luck or Manning, Garoppolo is the safest investment. His NFL experience and production is more valuable than college production; the Patriots will say that makes Garoppolo more valuable than the standard premium given up for top 5 quarterbacks coming out of college.
The Patriots will be looking for the draft equivalent of a mid-1st for Garoppolo and the most obvious trade is still with the Cleveland Browns. If the Browns send their 12th overall pick- which they acquired from the Eagles in the Wentz trade- along with the 50th overall pick- acquired from the Titans- or the first pick of the 3rd round and 65th overall to the Patriots in exchange for Garoppolo and the Patriots 1st round pick, then the Patriots would receive roughly the same value that was given up for Bradford and Smith.
Browns give up: 12th + 50th or 65th
Patriots give up: QB Jimmy Garoppolo + late 1st
Patriots premium received: Roughly 16th or 17th overall pick in the 1st round
The Patriots should do everything they can to maximize the return for Garoppolo and the clear objective should be a return in value equivalent to a top-16 first round pick. All the studies and evaluations point to Garoppolo being a more sound investment than any of the 1st round quarterbacks in the draft. It’s only fair the Patriots be compensated accordingly.