There are many people in New England, including a few who host a popular 2-6 radio show, that think the Patriots didn’t get nearly enough value in the Jimmy Garoppolo trade. Michael Felger went so far as to say that Patriots fans couldn’t take the loss. But is that really the case? Did Bill Belichick actually leave a ton of value on the table when he moved Jimmy G? Let’s take a closer look at whether or not that’s actually the case.
To do this exercise, I’m going to take a closer look at four trades, one of them being the Garoppolo trade. I’m going to be using the Jimmy Johnson draft pick valuation model to determine the value of each pick that is traded (the updated 2019 version I’m using is from drafttek.com). I’m going to start with the trade that most people will probably point to when they make the argument the Patriots should’ve gotten more compensation:
Sam Bradford trade
The Vikings acquired Bradford from the Eagles before the 2016 season in exchange for a 2017 first-round pick, and a 2018 fourth-rounder, that could become a better pick if certain conditions were met. The Eagles also paid $11 million of Bradford’s $18 million salary for the 2016 season. The Vikings overpaid significantly to get Bradford, but there was some reasoning behind why they did it.
The Vikings had won the NFC North the year before with Teddy Bridgewater throwing only 14 touchdown passes, but he had suffered a gruesome leg injury before the season. The thought process was that they didn’t need a superstar at QB to make a deep run in the playoffs, but someone who could manage the games and not lose them. Their hope for Bradford was to simply not screw things up.
He did better than that, completing over 70% of his passing and tossing 20 touchdowns compared to only 5 interceptions. Their faith in Bradford paid off on the stat sheet but not on the field, as the team finished 8-8. The ironic part is that, after Bradford got hurt the following season, Case Keenum would lead the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game.
Was it a good trade by Minnesota? No, they overpaid for Bradford. They thought that if they simply had a QB who was half-decent, they could go deep in the playoffs, and they did that the following year, so they weren’t too far off. But trading for Bradford was a complete panic move, and proved to be quite stupid. The real question is: is there a comparison between Garoppolo and Bradford? My answer is, in how it related to the Vikings situation, no. They wanted a little bit of a veteran quarterback who could lead them a bit. Again, it was stupid, but they’re not giving up what they did if Jimmy is on the other side of the trade.
Expected draft value: 768
Actual draft value: 1142
Josh Rosen trade
Next, let’s take a look at the Josh Rosen trade that was made this weekend: Miami acquired Rosen from the Cardinals for the #62 overall pick and a 2020 5th rounder.
The Cardinals had just selected Kyler Murray #1 overall, and they had the #10 pick from last year’s draft, Josh Rosen, who was going to sit on the bench and watch Murray take his job. They needed to move Rosen, who, as many experts said, would’ve been the top quarterback in the draft if he had been coming out this season.
The Dolphins gave up the picks they did because they were able to get a very talented guy who has some really bad NFL tape. However, I’m not sure how anyone can fault Rosen for what happened in Arizona last year. That team was a dumpster fire, and he was simply caught in the middle of it. The Dolphins might have gotten the steal of the draft at #62 without even drafting a player.
The parallels to Garoppolo are certainly there: they are both young, and although the Dolphins aren’t throwing tons of money at Rosen, they are obviously hoping he turns out to be the long term solution for them. As far as the trading partner, everyone knew that Arizona had Kyler Murray, so they needed to move Rosen, but the Patriots also had Tom Brady. Of course they were going to deal Garoppolo — they certainly weren’t going to deal the GOAT. So, any value that was lost, was probably lost by both teams.
Draft value: 320 MAX
Rob Johnson trade
Now that takes us to the cautionary tale. The quarterback who probably stacks up the best against Garoppolo, who was traded for so much that it’s still considered one of the worst trades in NFL history, Rob Johnson. The Bills acquired Johnson from the Jaguars in exchange for the #9 overall pick and #101, which was in the fourth round at the time.
Johnson has started one game in Jacksonville, he looked great. Mark Brunell was hurt and was going to miss some time. Johnson was finally going to get his chance to play, and he got hurt. Sound familiar? Now, Johnson had very limited stats in Buffalo, going 22-28 with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, but he had looked fantastic in preseason games, and really looked like he could be a good player in the league. It’s easy to say that everyone knew he was going to be bad, but that’s just not true. No one knew for sure about him, but he had looked pretty good in limited action.
As I said, this is considered one of the worst trades in NFL history, and has served as a cautionary tale for those teams considering trading big assets for unproven players, especially QBs. Now I don’t think that Jimmy G is going to be a bust, and he’s probably already been better than Johnson ever was, but this trade might have been in the back of everyone’s head when considering trading for Garoppolo.
Draft value: 1438 (using 103 instead of 101 the first pick in the 4th round)
Jimmy Garoppolo trade
That brings us to Garoppolo. Now, could the Patriots gave gotten more for him? I think that’s a strong possibility. But it’s also not a guarantee they could have. Could they have received compensation like the Vikings were supposed to give up, just over 750 value points. Or could they have gotten what the Cardinals got, which was just over 300. Well, it turns out what they got was somewhere right in the middle.
When the Patriots made the trade, the 49ers were 0-8, any reasonable assumption would put them at a max of 4-4 after the trade, which would have had them finish 4-12, giving them the fifth pick of the second round. The value for that pick is 530, according to Johnson’s chart. As it was, they went on a run at the end of the season, and they finished 6-10, which gave them the eleventh pick in the second round, which is worth 470.
Whether the return was 530 or 470, what’s clear is the value they got back was between Bradford’s expected value, which was a clear overpay, and Josh Rosen, who was available way below market value.
Expected draft value: 530
Actual draft value: 470
So what’s my conclusion? While the Patriots may not have “won” the Garoppolo trade, to think that they would’ve been able to get much more would be crazy. If you wanted to match the expected value of the Vikings deal, again, not what they actually gave up, but what they (stupidly) thought they would have to give up, assuming they made a deep playoff run. You’re talking about adding a third round pick.
In my opinion, the Vikings overpaid for Bradford, so I would say drop it down to a fourth or fifth round pick. Now the argument is that Patriots fans can’t take the loss because Belichick left a fifth round pick on the table when dealing Garoppolo?
Please. What really happened, is that we all overvalued a player on the Patriots’ roster. It’s okay, he was here, and we liked him, that’s not a crime, but he wasn’t worth a top-10 pick, which Cleveland was supposedly going to give up for him. They never were, by the way. That story has turned into the Tomase-walkthrough-story, it was said once, so it must be true, even when there’s no evidence it ever happened. If you don’t think the Patriots won the Garoppolo deal, you’re probably right, neither do I, but they also didn’t lose it either.
Pat is a host of The Patriot Nation Podcast
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