BOSTON (CBS) — Bill Belichick took the opportunity to give an opening statement before speaking to reporters on his Tuesday conference call, a rare move that’s coming off one of the most surprising Patriots trades in recent memory. Knowing full well the amount of questions he would face about the Jimmy Garoppolo trade, Belichick got ahead of the discussion by giving his thoughts on what led to it.
The head coach explained that the decision to trade Garoppolo wasn’t necessarily a reflection of how he felt about the 25-year-old as a quarterback, but more about the current circumstances of the team’s quarterback situation. With Tom Brady continuing to play at an All-Pro level at age 40, Belichick clearly sees him as the best choice for the position for at least the next two seasons – which means that keeping both him and Garoppolo on the roster beyond 2017 was virtually impossible and Tuesday presented their last chance to get some value out of Brady’s backup.
“We probably had in my mind, the best QB situation in the league for the last 2 1/2 years. It is just not sustainable the way things are set up,” said Belichick, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “Not something we wanted to walk away from. I felt we rode it out as long as we could. Over a period of time, explored every option possible to sustain it. At this point, felt like we had to make a decision. Very complex situation on multiple levels. This is really the last window that we had, we did what we felt was best for the team.”
Belichick’s statement started with some extremely high praise for the 49ers’ newest quarterback, who may not start right away but will likely get an extension.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jimmy. I couldn’t ask for him to give us any more than he has given us,” Belichick said. “The 49ers are getting a good player, they are getting a good person, and they’re getting a great teammate and they are getting a good quarterback. And Jimmy is getting a good coach.
“His career is moving forward, he’s a talented individual. He is a great person to coach. I met with him weekly. As his career moves forward, we have to look at our team, this year and beyond.”
Belichick declined to address any further questions about the Patriots’ quarterback situation or any other future roster moves.
The head coach’s comments are striking in that they acknowledge how hard his decision was to move on from Garoppolo. The trade is an affirmation of his devotion to Brady for the next 2-3 years, but he has also found himself in need of a new succession plan. As Belichick himself admitted, it’s a good problem to have.