Tom Brady is the New England Patriots' starting quarterback since 2001. Since then, he did some truly remarkable things like becoming the consensus greatest quarterback of all time, winning five Super Bowl rings and becoming the face of not only the Patriots franchise but football in general. Brady also did something else: Watch one backup quarterback after the other leave New England.
The latest member of this club is Jimmy Garoppolo, who was traded to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday. Not only does the move give the Patriots an additional second round pick to use in the next draft, it also adds another name to the group of Brady's backups leaving the Patriots. Let's take a look at those who Garoppolo joins (not including Doug Flutie, who retired after his lone year with the team).
Came: draft in 2016 (round 3, pick #91)
Left: traded to the Indianapolis Colts in 2017
Prior to the 2017 cutdown day, New England decided to trade Brissett to the Colts for wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. Since joining Indianapolis, the former third rounder has appeared in eight games, starting seven, and has been inconsistent. Leading his new team to a 2-5 record, Brissett is projected to be relegated to backup once Andrew Luck returns form injury – most likely next season.
Came: drafted in 2011 (round 3, pick #74)
Left: traded to the Houston Texans in 2014
After the Patriots drafted Garoppolo in 2014, the Patriots decided to trade their backup of the last three years. The team received a conditional sixth rounder from the Texans and off to Houston Mallett went. He started six games for the team before being released midway through his second season. Mallett then joined the Ravens for whom he started two games in 2015 before moving to a backup role.
Came: undrafted in 2009
Left: released in 2012
Hoyer served as the Patriots' backup for three seasons before being surpassed on the depth chart by Mallet and ultimately released. His journey through the league then began with the Steelers before he went on to start one game for the Cardinals, 16 for the Browns, nine for the Texans, five for the Bears and finally six for the 49ers. He went 16-21 as a starter, completing 59% of his passes. He was released after San Francisco acquired Garoppolo.
Came: drafted in 2008 (round 3, pick #94)
Left: released in 2009
After his second training camp with the Patriots, New England opted to release O'Connell. He was claimed by the Lions and later joined the Jets (twice), Dolphins and Chargers. However, the six passes he threw back in 2008 remained his lone career attempts. O'Connell retired in 2012 and moved into coaching; he currently serves as Washington's quarterbacks coach.
Came: undrafted in 2007
Left: released in 2009
Gutierrez was the Patriots' number three quarterback for two years before his release in 2009. After a one-year stint with the Chiefs, he later joined the Bears (twice), Redskins and Rams. Gutierrez, who also played in the United Football League and Arena Football League never attempted two NFL passes over the course of his career, which ended in 2012.
Came: drafted in 2005 (round 7, pick #230)
Left: traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009
The quarterback who accomplished most after leaving the Brady-era Patriots, Cassel earned Pro Bowl honors in 2010 and appeared in a playoff game in 2011 as the Chiefs' starter. After four seasons in Kansas City, Cassel was released and joined the Vikings, who traded him to the Bills in 2015, who traded him to the Cowboys later that same year. Since 2016, Cassel is the Titans' backup quarterback. He has started a total of 82 NFL regular season and playoff games, going 36-46.
Came: signed in 2006
Left: released in 2007
One day after his 43rd birthday, in November 2006, the Patriots signed the free agent as their third stringer behind Brady and Cassel. While he re-signed with the Patriots the following offseason, he was released during cutdowns and one month later joined the Panthers. Testaverde started six games for the team as an emergency option; Carolina went 2-4 with the veteran at the helm and he retired after the season.
Came: drafted in 2002 (round 4, pick #117)
Left: released in 2005
Three years and two Super Bowl rings after the Patriots drafted Davey in the fourth round, the team opted to release him in 2005. The LSU product then joined the Arizona Cardinals but after two seasons on and off the team was released for good. Davey never attempted an NFL pass after his tenure in New England and ended his career in the Arena Football League.
Came: signed in 2004
Left: left as a free agent in 2005
Serving as the number three quarterback on New England's roster, Miller shared backup duties with Rohan Davey during the 2004 season. And while he was not active even once, he won a Super Bowl ring. After the season, Miller joined the Giants but was released with an injury settlement before the start of the 2005 season. He did not throw a pass during or after his stint with the Patriots.
Came: signed in 2000
Left: left as a free agent in 2004
After earning two Super Bowl rings with the Patriots, Huard joined the Kansas City Chiefs as a backup quarterback. The former undrafted free agent spent five years in Kansas City and started 21 games for the team. Huard attempted 657 regular season passes with the Chiefs – the third-most of all post-Brady backups behind Cassel and Hoyer – while going 10-11 as a starter.
In terms of productivity after leaving Tom Brady's shadow, the hurdle for Jimmy Garoppolo to clear is not a tough one as Matt Cassel, Brian Hoyer and Damon Huard are the three most successful players so far. In terms of future role and what he has shown in New England, it would not be a surprise to see the 25-year old turn out to be the most productive of Brady's former backups.