It was reported a couple of weeks back by Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com that it is the intention of the Cleveland Browns to pursue New England Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in a trade. The move would seem to make sense considering the sort of deals that the Browns tend to make. They have the most ammunition in the league in terms of draft picks and salary cap space.
But there are those now who do not believe that Bill Belichick is looking to deal his backup, who went 2-0 as a starter during the first two games of the 2016 season while Tom Brady was serving a suspension. The Patriots drafted Garoppolo in the second round a couple of years ago because they believed he could develop into a starter, and in the meantime could be excellent insurance against an injury to Brady.
Peter King spent time with Brady after the Super Bowl, and he reportedly does not believe that the Patriots would prefer to deal his backup rather than holding on to him. Former Belichick protégé and then frenemy Eric Mangini shares King’s belief that the New England head coach is more likely to keep Garoppolo around rather than dish him out for picks or players.
It makes sense, after all. The Patriots are literally a championship-caliber team, having just won the Super Bowl—a couple of them recently, in fact—so it’s not as though they are in the need of injecting some fresh talent into the roster in order to get over the hump.
Garoppolo also still has a year left on his deal, so there is no immediate financial decision on the horizon. And the Patriots have never been shy about valuing compensatory draft picks, which have only become more valuable now that they are allowed to be traded.
Mangini was asked on Colin Cowherd’s show recently whether or not he thought that the Patriots would deal Garopppolo. “No, I don’t think so at all”, was his response, according to the Boston Herald. “I don’t think Bill’s made very many mistakes, especially in the quarterback area, over time”.
He then proceeded to run down Belichick’s history of personnel decisions surrounding the quarterback position, including the decision to deal a couple of Brady’s recent backups, but also going all the way back to his decision to cut Bernie Kosar while he was coaching the Browns in the mid-90s.
The Browns may be eager to try to pursue Garoppolo, as has been reported, but it’s not clear by any means that he is actually on the market. While there is a certain logic to be followed by examining Belichick’s past decisions—and Garoppolo is in the final year of his contract—this one is a bit different.
Brady is far closer to the end of his career than he has been in similar circumstances in the past. Garoppolo also appears to be a better quarterback than his predecessors. And the Patriots have a very strong team with no need to improve. Insurance against the loss of their best player probably makes more sense than a couple extra picks.