All offseason long there was speculation about how the New England Patriots would address their quarterback position coming off a disappointing 7-9 campaign. Throughout this process one name kept popping up time and again: Jimmy Garoppolo.
With the San Francisco 49ers on their way to drafting another quarterback following a massive trade up to the third overall pick, Garoppolo appeared to be on his way out. What better landing spot than his former team, right?
A trade never materialized, however, with New England instead opting to draft Alabama quarterback Mac Jones with the 15th overall selection — 12 picks after the 49ers added North Dakota State’s Trey Lance to their own roster. The Patriots’ decision to draft Jones all but put an end to the persistent Garoppolo trade rumors, and the player in question recently spoke about them during an appearance on CBS Sports Radio.
“I don’t know. We never really got to cross that bridge,” Garoppolo said when asked about whether or not he would have welcomed a return to the Patriots.
A former second-round draft choice by the Patriots in 2014, Garoppolo spent the first three-and-a-half seasons of his NFL career in New England as Tom Brady’s backup. While he generally only saw limited playing time along the way, he did look good whenever on the field. He led the Patriots on a touchdown drive in his first extended action as a rookie and later filled in for Brady during his suspension, going 2-0 as a starter.
With the starter showing no signs of slowing down and being in the middle of arguably the best stretch of quarterback play in league history, however, New England was faced with a decision: hold onto Garoppolo beyond the 2017 season, or try to recoup some value by making him available via trade.
The Patriots opted to go the second route and sent Garoppolo to San Francisco just ahead of the 2017 trade deadline.
”You never know where your path is going to take you in the NFL. I thought I was going to be in New England for my entire career. That didn’t go as planned,” Garoppolo said on Tuesday. “It’s one of those businesses, you’ve got to be ready for anything. Have to be on your toes, have to be able to react. However the story plays out, you just have to be able to run with it.”
New England did just that. The team did inquire about Garoppolo’s availability earlier during the offseason, but eventually opted not to follow through and bring the 29-year-old back. That decision was not a surprising one considering the 49ers’ reported asking price and Garoppolo’s contract situation.
Instead, the Patriots went after Mac Jones in the draft. New England will now hope that another No. 10 will successfully lead the organization into the post-Tom Brady era, and do the job Garoppolo was never able to take over as his own.