With New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady suspended for the first four games of the 2015 NFL season as a punishment for Deflategate, backup Jimmy Garoppolo seems poised to fill in as starting QB for the defendign Super Bowl Champions.
Garoppolo, 23, was drafted by the Patriots in the second round of the 2014 draft as a possible successor to Brady.
Here’s what you need to know about Garoppolo:
1. He Played in 6 Games During His Rookie Season
Garoppolo played mainly in garbage time during his first season in New England, making his debut during the Patriots’ Week 4 blowout loss to Kansas City. He threw his first touchdown, to Rob Gronkowski, on his first career regular season drive.
He finished the season with that lone touchdown and no interceptions. He was 19-27 for 182 yards, along with 10 rushes for 9 yards.
Garoppolo, who is a faster runner than Brady, was credited by his team for helping the defense prepare for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who the Patriots beat in the Super Bowl.
2. He Says He Looks at Brady as an Older Brother
Garoppolo said he was happy with spending at least his first season in the NFL as Brady’s back up, according to the Suntimes.
It’s definitely a positive to be able to sit behind a guy like Tom. I’m happy where I ended up. … On the field [and] off the field, [he’s] helping me with things. He’s been a great guy just helping me. If I ever have a question about anything, most likely he’s been through it or experienced it to some degree.
He said he has looked up to the veteran since childhood and watches Brady’s game tape to help him work on his own game.
But there was some controversy after Brady didn’t react to Garoppolo’s first career touchdown pass. Brady was caught on camera not reacting to the play, and everyone had a reaction to the apparent snub, according to NESN.
Brady later said it was not a personal issue, but rather a professional one.
I’m really not (aware of the cameras). When we lose, there’s really not a lot — even when we win, I think it’s just important to not ride the roller-coaster of emotions. You have to believe in your process. You have to believe in the things that you are doing to help the team win. I think you have to take the good with the bad.
I was happy for Jimmy. I was happy for our team. We kept fighting at the end. That’s a good thing. The more good players we have, the better we will be as a team. So I didn’t pay attention to any of those things. I was obviously disappointed that the outcome of the game was what it was.
3. Garoppolo is in the First Year of a 4-Year Deal
Garoppolo’s rookie deal is for four years and worth up to $3,483,898, according to ESPN.
The first $1.1 million is guaranteed, and the rest will come based on bonuses if he plays out the full contract.
4. He Starred at Eastern Illinois University & Broke Many of Tony Romo’s Records
Garoppolo, a native of the Chicago-suburb of Arlington Heights, played for seasons at Eastern Illinois. He won the Walter Payton Award his senior season, which is given to the top offensive player in the Division 1 Football Championship Subdivision.
He broke many of the records of fellow Panthers’ quarterback Tony Romo, now the starter for the Dallas Cowboys.
5. Garrett Gilbert Is the Only Other QB on the Roster
The Patriots could also turn to former Texas and SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who is listed third on the team’s depth chart.
Gilbert, a five-star recruit out of high school, started his college career backing up Colt McCoy at the University of Texas, before transferring to SMU. He was also a 2014 draft pick, taken by the St. Louis Rams in the sixth round. He was released by the Rams before the season and signed to their practice squad.
He was signed by the Patriots in February.