We have entered the deepest depths of the NFL offseason. Free agency and the draft are behind us, while minicamp and training camp won't start until early June and late July, respectively. However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop.
After all, until the late-August's roster cuts, players need to have secured their spots on the team. Over the course of the next few months, we will take a look at the men fighting for them on the 2017 New England Patriots. 53 of currently 88 players will be asked to help the team defend its Super Bowl title.
Today, we’ll continue the series with the Patriots’ top backup quarterback.
Name: Jimmy Garoppolo
Jersey number: 10
Opening day age: 25
Size: 6'2, 225 lbs.
2016 review: With starting quarterback Tom Brady's suspension getting reinstated in late April of last year, the Patriots entered training camp and the regular season with Jimmy Garoppolo as the starting quarterback. Throughout summer, the third-year pro shared practice reps with the future Hall of Famer; on day opening day the spotlight was on him – and he looked very good.
Despite losing a fumble, Garoppolo played like a starting-caliber quarterback; he had total command of the offense and lead it to a game-winning field goal. The next week against the Miami Dolphins, the former second round pick was even better: He shredded the Dolphins' defense en route to a 21-0 lead.
At that point, however, a shoulder injury forced him out of the game – and ultimately to miss the remaining two games of Brady's suspension. Once Brady returned, Garoppolo was back to his usual role: primary backup. As such, he appeared in only four more games, all of which have already been decided by the time he entered the contests.
Overall, though, Garoppolo's 2016 season was a succesful one. He completed 43 of 63 pass attempts (68.3%) for 502 yards and four touchdowns and played a critical role in two of New England's victories. Furthermore, he showed that he has the potential to be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL.
2017 preview: Entering the offseason, Garoppolo was seen as a potential trade chip. However, it appears that New England is not willing to part ways with its backup quarterback just yet. Of course, a lot can change between now and a) the start of the regular season in September and b) the trade deadline in November.
As things currently stand, though, the 25-year old will return for a fourth season as Tom Brady’s primary backup. As such, Garoppolo’s 2017 season will probably look like his first two in the NFL: He is projected to see rotational duty over the course of the summer before serving as the lone game-day backup quarterback during the season. In between, Garoppolo will see limited snaps during blowout victories.
And while the Patriots might have different plans in mind, it seems unlikely that Garoppolo will see much playing time as long as Tom Brady is active – at least when the games count.