The Jimmy Garoppolo trade has been hotly debated since the day it happened. It’s been argued that the New England Patriots should have received more than just a second-round pick back. It has been “reported” that the Patriots could have received a first-rounder from multiple teams in exchange for the quarterback. But what if there is a very simple explanation for why Patriots head coach/general manager Bill Belichick decided that the San Francisco 49ers were the team Garoppolo needed to be traded to?
Before we analyze the move itself, let’s take a look at the decision Belichick was facing. He was choosing between Jimmy Garoppolo and Tom Brady. Garoppolo’s contract was going to run out after 2017, while Brady had two more seasons left on his deal, with it set to expire after 2019. How could he have possibly chosen Garoppolo over Brady, when Brady has just completed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history while winning his fifth championship? So, if he was going to have to choose Brady, wouldn’t he want it to be for the rest of Brady’s career?
Now, Brady might care about his legacy more than any other player I’ve ever seen. His legacy is based on two things: competing for championships, and his family. His competitiveness is legendary, so his legacy would take a huge hit if he went somewhere like Las Vegas, where he would inevitably finish 7-9 and miss the playoffs. So, Brady has only two real options during this year’s free agency period:
- Go somewhere he can legitimately compete for a championship, or
- Go somewhere that would matter to his family.
We can argue about which team would fill the first option. Maybe you think it’s the Tennessee Titans, maybe you think it’s the Los Angeles Chargers, and maybe there is another team out there you think has a chance at doing that (but you’d be wrong, those are the only two places that fit that requirement). Either way, the options are limited out there.
San Francisco, however, is, and should be, Brady’s first choice of places to play that isn’t New England. How do I know it’s his first choice? Just look at the news. There have been rumors about San Francisco being a place that would be a good fit for Brady. Do you think those rumors came from the Niners? The team that made the Super Bowl last year, and has a fairly young quarterback, who has turned the franchise around? I don’t think so.
Those rumors came from the Brady camp. Because, maybe, there would be a chance the Niners would be interested too, and he would be able to go to San Francisco. The beauty of that place is their play doesn’t matter. The Brady spin would be that he would be going home. That his earliest memories from football were him and his dad going to watch the 49ers play, and now, his dad was going to watch him play for the team they loved so much.
He was going to be able to put on the same jersey as his hero, Joe Montana, and try to win one more championship. His kids would be able to root for the team he grew up on, and would see their dad maybe even win them a championship. It’s like something out of Hollywood script. A perfect ending to an amazing career.
The only problem is that can’t happen, because Belichick traded the next guy to San Francisco. The only place, other than New England, that provides a perfect ending for Brady already has a very good QB. So, now the choice for Brady is to play somewhere else, and possibly hurt his legacy, or come back to the Patriots and continue the legacy he’s built these last 20 years. Does this make it impossible for Brady to leave? Of course not. But, it does give the Patriots a huge advantage when starting negotiations.
And, if the Niners decide to go with Brady and let Garoppolo walk, the Patriots are sitting there just waiting for him to walk back in and take over. It’s a win-win for Belichick and the Patriots. Stop me if you’ve heard that before.
I realize that this would take a lot of planning and foresight from Belichick, but would you put it past him? He’s always been able to see a few steps ahead, so why would it be any different this time? It would certainly explain why he was so insistent on trading Garoppolo to San Francisco. Whether or not it’s true doesn’t matter, and we’d never know either way, but I think it makes a lot of sense. Hopefully, it helps the Patriots bring Brady, or Garoppolo, back for next season.
Pat is a host of The Patriot Nation Podcast
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