The New England Patriots have just one team in the running to acquire QB Jimmy Garoppolo and they have taken their biggest trading chip off the table. Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson says that Cleveland will not be trading the 1st overall pick.
"No, no," Jackson said about giving up the 1st pick. "I can tell you no on that one, no."
My expert analysis leads me to believe Jackson is saying “no” to trading the 1st overall pick. The Browns are expected to take EDGE Myles Garrett with the first overall pick and address their opening at quarterback later in the draft- whether via trade or selection. In fact, Jackson seemed more open to giving up the Browns 12th overall pick to add a quarterback to the roster.
“Until we have the guy that we feel comfortable with that will be the face of our franchise, and play QB the way we want them to play, we’re going to keep searching,” Jackson continued. “There’s the draft that’s coming up. There’s trade opportunities hopefully. We’ll exhaust every opportunity.”
So while Jackson nixed any idea of trading the 1st overall pick, he’s still open to a trade to improve the quarterback position- and while he can’t comment directly on Garoppolo, any and all trade talks start with that 12th overall pick.
The Patriots are rumored to be looking for a pair of first round picks, or the equivalent in value, in exchange for Garoppolo. The Browns have the 1st, 12th, 33rd, 52nd, and 65th overall picks in the first three rounds of 2017, as well as their own first round pick and three second round picks (own, Eagles, Texans) in 2018.
There are numerous combinations of draft picks for the Browns to send the Patriots that offer the equivalent value of two first rounders. If the Patriots want to start with the 12th overall pick, then the Browns could package any pair of second round picks in either year to meet the Patriots trade demands.
Of course, the Patriots have been adamant about their desire to retain Garoppolo. While QB Tom Brady wants to play for six or seven more years, the fact remains that the quarterback will be 40 years old by the start of the 2017 season.
There have been just two instances of a quarterback over the age of 40 putting together an above average season: 41-year-old Warren Moon in 1997 and 40-year-old Brett Favre in 2009, and Moon was just slightly above average. Just three quarterbacks have thrown for 300+ passes over the age of 40: Moon, Favre, and Vinny Testaverde.
When the Patriots drafted Garoppolo back in 2014, head coach Bill Belichick referenced “Tom’s age” as a reason for the pick. Brady is entering uncharted waters as he quarterbacks into his 40s and there’s a chance he could play until his mid-40s, just like there’s a chance he could fall off by age 41 like Warren Moon, whether by age or by injury.
The Patriots can control Garoppolo’s contract for $895,077 in 2017 and roughly $22.7 million in 2018 under the franchise tag. While that 2018 hit seems expensive, it aligns with Brady playing at age 41 and it would be within Belichick’s modus operandi to have insurance in case the wall comes at Brady quickly.
And this is why the Patriots want a pair of first round picks. It’s clear that Belichick views Garoppolo’s value as a back-up- as both short-term and long-term Brady insurance- greater than what a single first round pick could bring to the team. In fact, the Patriots just gave up a first round pick for two rookie-contract seasons worth of WR Brandin Cooks. The Patriots internal value of a 32nd overall pick is two seasons of a cost-controlled Pro Bowl-caliber receiver; a potential starting quarterback holds much more value to the Patriots.
It will be up to the Browns to meet that value.