The NFL rumor mill is working overtime this offseason, and one position in particular has been mentioned multiple times: quarterback. Even after Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff have changed teams — from the Detroit Lions to the Los Angeles Rams and vice versa, respectively — there is no slowing down when it comes to reports and rumors about QBs possibly, likely, potentially being moved over the coming weeks and months.
Two names repeatedly mentioned are the Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson and the San Francisco 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo. Both have been linked to the New England Patriots before, and their future could very well have a major impact on the organization: even if Watson, as expected, does not end up in New England, him getting moved by his club could have a trickle-down effect on the Patriots.
How? ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler explained this on air over the weekend, pointing out that Watson or a player of similar status becoming available either via trade or otherwise could prompt San Francisco to move on from Garoppolo (h/t Bleacher Report’s Tyler Conway):
“I’m told San Fran is looking at potential upgrades, but they still like Jimmy G. He’s 24-9 as a starter, including the playoffs, with the Niners. They believe they can win with him, but it would take a big swing, like a Deshaun Watson effect here, to make that change. And I’m told that the 49ers are one of the teams that Watson’s at least intrigued by. A source said, ‘Which quarterback wouldn’t want to be in that offense on that team with all those weapons and Kyle Shanahan?’ So always a possibility, but the Texans have made clear they’re not willing to deal Watson right now. Garoppolo’s still a viable option for San Fran.”
Unless new Texans general manager (and former New England executive) Nick Caserio sees no other option to resolve the Watson situation than trading him, and if San Francisco becomes the landing spot in this scenario, Garoppolo should therefore be expected to serve as the 49ers’ starting quarterback next season as well. The question then becomes what this might mean from the Patriots’ perspective.
Frankly, it means they will have to look elsewhere for their next starting quarterback and cannot bet on either Garoppolo or even Watson to become available this offseason. Sure, a lot can still happen — from 49ers releasing the veteran quarterback to New England acquiring him via trade — but Fowler’s report makes it all apparent that anything but significant resources arriving in San Francisco will lead to the team keeping its current QB1.
The Patriots, of course, have been linked to Garoppolo and other quarterbacks repeatedly over the last few weeks and months. It is not hard to see why: they struggled mightily to move the football through the air in 2020, with Cam Newton being one of the least efficient starting quarterbacks in the league in his first year in the New England system.
How the team will move forward at the position remains to be seen, but it becomes increasingly likely that Jimmy Garoppolo will not be part of the solution.