On Sunday Night Football, on primetime television, Jimmy Garoppolo stood under the bright lights of the NFL and perhaps shined just as much. He was starting his first ever regular season game, away from Gillette Stadium and against one of toughest teams in the NFL, the Arizona Cardinals. He not only helped the Patriots beat the Cardinals (despite being nine point underdogs), but had an impressive game himself. He completed 24 of his 33 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown. Garoppolo did not throw an interception, which may be the biggest accomplishment for him outside of winning the game.
Garoppolo made some impressive throws on Sunday, including a 37 yard touchdown pass to Chris Hogan that was placed perfectly over the top of the Cardinals defense. He did have one fumble, but considering the offensive line that he had without Jonathan Cooper, Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer, it’s to expected that he will face a lot of pressure from defenses. He was poised in the face of pressure, being able to step up in the pocket and make throws despite knowing he was going to be hit. Garoppolo played much better than expected and that is a double bonus for the Patriots. Not only because they won the game short-handed against one of the best teams in the entire league, but also for another reason as well.
There is no question that when week five rolls around, Tom Brady will be the Patriots starting quarterback. There is NO quarterback controversy. But the team does have somewhat of a logjam at the position. They historically never carry more than two quarterbacks on the roster and the team will be forced to keep three. Tom Brady is obviously not going anywhere and rookie Jacoby Brissett was just drafted in the third round, so he isn’t going anywhere either. That leaves Garoppolo, who is in the third year of his four year rookie deal. He played very well against the Cardinals and his good performance may get the Patriots exactly what they need and want: a trade.
Yes, Garoppolo was originally drafted with the intent of him being Brady’s heir someday, but Brady recently sign a contract extension that will outlast Garoppolo’s current deal. Not to mention, Brady still played at an elite level in 2015 and showed no signs of rust. The current problem the NFL has is that the quarterback prospects coming out of college, for the most part, are no-where close to produce at the NFL level. The number one overall pick in this past draft, Jared Goff, is some a third string quarterback behind Case Keenum.
Many teams such as the Eagles or Rams (for example this past season) face is that they don’t necessarily have a competent quarterback to start and have their hands tied to make a big draft selection of a quarterback. While Carson Wentz showed well for the Eagles on Sunday, it was against the Browns. What Garoppolo presents to quarterback-needy teams potentially is someone who showed at the very least, a competent quarterback who can start at the NFL level. Not to mention, he is still under contract for all of 2016 and 2017 at a very affordable price ($2.06 million dollar cap hit combined).
For teams such as the Browns and 49ers to name a couple, they are without any solid long-term solutions at quarterback. Garoppolo would most likely represent an upgrade at quarterback for not only those two teams, but perhaps a long-term option as well. By trading Garoppolo, it would not only solve the issue of losing him in free agency after next season for nothing, but also making it so the team isn’t forced to carry three quarterbacks on their roster. What the Patriots would likely be asking for in return for Garoppolo depends on how well he does over the next three games.
But with the kind of start that Garoppolo had and the teams lined up for him to face (Dolphins, Texans, Bills), it’s possible his value could increase even more before he is relegated back to second string upon Brady’s reinstatement. With that, the Patriots could find themselves increasing their cost to trade Garoppolo even more. It’s possible that the second round pick that the Patriots used to draft Garoppolo in 2014 could turn into more, such as a first round pick if not more than that. The point is that not only would the Patriots being able to return their investment on Garoppolo, but solve the eventual roster logjam as well.
Garoppolo did much better than anyone would’ve suspected against Arizona on Sunday and that could lead to much bigger and better things for not only himself, but for the Patriots as well. For the time being though, Garoppolo will have a chance to lead the Patriots to a second straight victory on Sunday as he and the team will face the Dolphins.