BOSTON (CBS) — Reports and rumors about a potential Malcolm Butler trade have largely dominated the Patriots discussion over the past couple of weeks. But the Jimmy Garoppolo speculation has returned.

According to ESPN’s Tony Grossi, the Browns could be gearing up to make one final push to acquire the Patriots’ backup quarterback this weekend. At this point, we’ve heard every single angle of this potential trade, so to help sort out the latest, Boston Herald Patriots reporter Jeff Howe joined Toucher & Rich (with Johnston & Flynn filling in).

Howe said that the Patriots themselves might not even have a strict asking price in mind when it comes to what it would take to pry Garoppolo off their roster.

“They’re definitely willing to listen. It’s just, a team has to come with whatever their asking price is. And I’m not entirely sure what that price is going to be or if they even know what it’s going to be, but I think they have at least something set,” Howe said, noting that reports have stated either a pair of first-round picks or a first-rounder and a second-rounder. “The Browns definitely want him and there’s no question about that. With the amount of picks and collateral they have, and if you read the way things are being written out in Cleveland, it’s like, well maybe the No. 1 [overall] pick wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to give up for him. So I think people are starting to get on board with it out there, and I wonder where that’s coming from.”

Despite the fact that Tom Brady is coming off an MVP-caliber season, Howe said there’s plenty of reason for the Patriots to keep Garoppolo instead of just giving him away for whatever the best offer may be.

“The Patriots aren’t going to just give him away to the highest bidder, and I think that’s the right approach to take,” Howe explained. “Because you don’t know how Tom Brady will look next year or if he’ll — just like 22, 23-year-old quarterback — [Brady] is susceptible to any big hit that could put him on the sideline for an extended period of time. So I absolutely understand why the Patriots aren’t just sitting there saying, ‘All right, highest bidder gets him.’ They know how hard it is to get one quarterback, let alone two. And they’ve been cycling through backup quarterbacks behind Tom Brady for years, and every now and then they find one they like, and I think this is one that they realize could be a franchise-caliber quarterback — whether it’s for them or for somebody else. And they’re just not going to give him away.”

At the same time, if Brady does perform well again in 2017 and looks to be a real exception to the rule of aging quarterbacks, then the Patriots will likely find reason to trade Garoppolo next year, even if he does have that franchise-caliber potential.

“So if you’re the Patriots, you basically have to measure this in two ways. You’ve got Tom Brady, whose next professional pass will be as a 40-year-old. And he’s never looked 39 and he never looked 38 and 37 and so on and so forth, so why would he all of a sudden look 40? You can’t count on him all of a sudden just hitting that decline,” Howe said. “But, if you keep Garoppolo next season, you at least protect yourself in the event that it does happen. Or to a much lower degree, if Brady goes down for six games, you know Garoppolo can get in there and get you a handful of wins and keep you in position to at least come back and get that Super Bowl run going in January.

“But right now, he’s not going to be sold to the highest bidder. But if they keep him under their control for this season and Tom Brady still doesn’t look like a guy of his age as a 40-year-old next season, then you put the franchise tag on Garoppolo and then you sell him to the highest bidder, because it’s not realistic to spend $44 million in cap money on quarterbacks [in 2018].”

Elsewhere in Patriots rumblings, Howe was asked if there might be any potential reunion between the team and cornerback Darrelle Revis, who was released by the Jets this offseason.

“I don’t know if the Revis thing is going to happen. I’ve reached out to his camp. They haven’t responded,” Howe said. “Reading the writing on the wall there — and I’m not sourcing anything here, I’m just kind of throwing stuff at the wall and trying to read it — if you’re Darrelle Revis’ people, who have done as good of a job of marketing him as any player in NFL history … wouldn’t you think that they’d try to market his availability? Maybe try to create a little more urgency? I know the money isn’t going to be there but at least you get teams trying to jump on Revis a little quicker if there’s a competition between the Patriots and the Steelers or, shoot, if he’s willing to go to the West Coast, the Raiders. They all need a cornerback. And that just hasn’t existed. So I’m not sure there is interest there from the Patriots.”

[graphiq id=”97ZY2WlJYFv” title=”Darrelle Revis Best Games of Career” width=”600″ height=”599″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/97ZY2WlJYFv” link=”http://football-players.pointafter.com/l/17187/Darrelle-Revis” link_text=”PointAfter | Graphiq” ]

Howe also noted that if the Patriots hold on to Malcolm Butler, then it’s unlikely they’d be willing to add another cornerback to the roster.

“If they retain Malcolm Butler, they don’t need another cornerback. If they get rid of him, I’d be surprised if they brought in a veteran on the type of money that would guarantee his roster spot until after the draft. Just because there’s such a good group of corners in the draft, and if you take one in the first four rounds, you’re pretty much guaranteeing him a roster spot,” Howe said. “You’ve already got Stephon Gilmore, Cyrus Jones and Eric Rowe, who are all pretty much locked in to the roster. And I think Jonathan Jones is, too. So you’ve got four guys who are on the roster right now, and then maybe Butler, and then maybe a draft pick. So that’s why I probably think they’re going to wait on the cornerback market.”

As for a desire from the Patriots to get back into the first round after trading No. 32 to the Saints for Brandin Cooks?

“Well they should because it’s such a talented draft class. Even if you trade that down, you might be able to spin it down into two more quality players,” Howe said. “But again, they’re not going to sell off a quality piece like Garoppolo or Butler just for the sake of getting back in the first round.”

Listen to the full interview below:

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