According to reports stemming from the Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard, the New England Patriots’ top choice at quarterback is former Patriot and current San Francisco 49er Jimmy Garoppolo.
Since Garoppolo is still under contract, and up to now, there are no definitive indications the Niners are looking to move him, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the Patriots will need to make an “enticing offer” to acquire him from San Francisco.
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Reiss on the Patriots’ Potential Offer for Garoppolo
Here’s what Reiss had to say about a potential Patriots offer to the Niners to bring Garoppolo back to New England.
If the Patriots come to the realization Jimmy Garoppolo is their preferred quarterback option, and there is a notable gap between him and Plan B, this would be the time to press the issue. The Patriots can’t make another team trade with them, but they can at least make the San Francisco 49ers consider it with an enticing offer as the start of the new league year begins March 17, with salary-cap space at a premium. Niners general manager John Lynch recently told the “Eye Test” podcast, with no hesitation, he believes Garoppolo will be the team’s starting quarterback in September if he’s healthy. But Garoppolo’s health challenges are part of the reason the 49ers have previously considered an upgrade, and that’s why some around the NFL are skeptical of their commitment to him. How committed would they be if the Patriots, taking more of an aggressive approach, floated something like a second-round pick (No. 46) or even cornerback Stephon Gilmore to get ahead of what could be a challenging contract situation?
Quite honestly, if the Patriots could get the Niners to accept Gilmore and perhaps a fourth or fifth-round pick for Garoppolo, that would be the best realistic scenario. Simply dealing a pick for Garoppolo puts the Patriots on the hook for the quarterback’s $26 million salary-cap hit, per Spotrac.
While that would leave New England approximately $40.5 million in cap space, it would be much easier absorbed. Gilmore is under contract through 2021 and is scheduled to account for a $15 million cap hit, per Spotrac, which leaves New England only absorbing $11 million more by acquiring Garoppolo.
That would theoretically still leave the Patriots with about $57 million of their $68 million in projected cap space available to fill voids at other positions.
Garoppolo is a Scary Acquisition
The main problem with Garoppolo is durability. The 29-year-old has missed 33 of a possible 64 starts with the Niners since the Patriots traded him to San Francisco in 2017. When he has played, the Niners have been successful. He started all 16 games in 2019, and the Niners finished 13-3 and made it to the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately, he missed 10 games in 2020, 13 in 2018, and 10 in 2017. That’s a little more than alarming, and even if the Patriots do elect to trade for Garoppolo, it seems they would have to acquire a viable backup option as well.
Perhaps Cam Newton would be competing with Garoppolo in training camp, with the latter being the favorite to be named QB1. In that scenario, the Patriots would have one of the best QB tandems in the NFL. They may even entertain a few looks with both players on the field together, considering Newton’s overall athleticism.
Whether that’s a situation Newton would agree to while he has some options to sign elsewhere would be another question. Still, it’s a feasible approach considering Garoppolo’s injury history and the Patriots’ cap space.
Aside from that or a similar situation with another quarterback, it’s difficult to imagine the Patriots feeling secure with Garoppolo as the QB1 and no other comfortable option as his backup should he go down with another injury.