Michael Lombardi is one of Bill Belichick’s closest friends and confidants. The two worked closely together from 1991 to 1995, when Belichick was head coach of the Cleveland Browns, and then again from 2014 to early 2016 with the New England Patriots. Safe to say, Lombardi knows how Belichick operates.
That is why hearing him comment on developments around the league and especially in New England is always worth listening to. Yesterday, for instance, Lombardi joined Bill Simmons on The Ringer’s NFL podcast to talk, among other things, about the Patriots and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
The segment about whether or not New England would be willing to trade him this offseason, started with Lombardi stating that he is "not shilling for Belichick" but that the 25-year old is "really good". And for that reason, the former executive would tell the Patriots’ head coach and de-facto general manager not to let him leave:
He’s worth the Patriots to hold on to him. If I was in New England, I would be telling Belichick every day there’s no way we can trade him. I know you got Brady but Brady’s 40 years old we don’t know where that’s going. There’s no history that says ‘Brady’s going to be great.’
Brady has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon and the team reportedly plans to extend his contract to keep him in the fold for the next few seasons. However, in regards to his age, Brady and the Patriots are entering unchartered territory, which is why Lombardi feels that the team should play it safe and hang on to Garoppolo.
In theory, the plan makes a lot of sense. The question, however, is if it is economically sustainable from New England’s perspective? While the Patriots are among the league-leaders in salary cap space in 2017 and 2018, extending Brady plus keeping Garoppolo for the long haul would tie up a lot of money at one position and potentially limit the team’s ability to make other moves.
Unless, the Patriots front office really believes Garoppolo to be the future franchise quarterback, it therefore seems unlikely that he becomes just that. If Belichick feels the same way remains to be seen. Judging by his former employee’s comments and how the team usually takes a long-term approach, though, nothing can be ruled out.