The New England Patriots didn’t want to lose quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but they realized that they wouldn’t be able to reach a contract extension, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Patriots tried to sign Garoppolo over the offseason, but the negotiations fell through and the team realized it would “be too difficult to re-sign” Garoppolo.
And that’s when the Patriots knew they needed to trade Garoppolo for assets now instead of assets in the future.
“Well, I think what we have here is a case of Jimmy Garoppolo was going to be a free agent after this season," Schefter said on ESPN, as transcribed by WEEI’s Ryan Hannable. "His contract was going to be up, and New England had made efforts to sign him, re-sign him. I think the more they talked, the more they recognized that it was going to be too difficult to re-sign him.
“And so rather than have him walk away after the season ends, they decided to make the move now, to trade him for a second-round draft pick. Had he left, they could have got a compensatory draft pick. It would have been a high pick, but that also would limit their flexibility in free agency with players they could and could not bring in.”
The Patriots could have used their franchise tag on Garoppolo, but that could have further decreased his trade value because of how expensive the tag is for quarterbacks. Schefter notes that the early second round pick from the San Francisco 49ers “was about as good as New England could do.”
According to multiple reports, the Patriots still believe that Garoppolo could become a good starter in the NFL, but that they were unable to retain both Garoppolo and Tom Brady at their projected price points.
As a result, the Patriots opted to acquire a standard draft pick in the 2018 draft, as opposed to letting Garoppolo walk in the offseason and getting a compensatory pick in 2019 that would have prevented the Patriots from signing a big ticket free agent.