BOSTON (CBS) — And so Jimmy Garoppolo is gone, Tom Brady has been fortified and Bill Belichick appears to be shuffling the deck, precisely at midseason, as the Patriots 2017 season, the annual NFL trading deadline and New England’s bye week run together like the Fresh Pond rotary.
As always, there are winners, losers and those in between.
Tom Brady. Pretty clear, right? As recently as yesterday, many still wondered about the longer-term future of the Patriots quarterback, Garoppolo all but officially designated as the heir apparent. Now Garoppolo is gone. For that matter, so is Jacoby Brissett. Maybe Belichick feels that integrating a quarterback is easier than ever – Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson – but whatever the case, Brady continues to march on. He’s 40. Going on 25. And now, with no backup or threat.
Jimmy Garoppolo. He gets what he wants – the chance to play – and don’t be so fast to write off the San Francisco 49ers as a dreadful destination. So Garoppolo doesn’t get the tutelage of Belichick anymore. But he does get Kyle Shanahan, who has proven a valuable asset to, among others, Kirk Cousins and Matt Ryan. He also got 3-1/2 years under Belichick to build his career on. Hardly a bad outcome.
Bill Belichick. Wait, what? How? Let us explain. When Belichick drafted Garoppolo, he wasn’t just looking for Brady’s successor. He was also looking for leverage over the GOAT. And he got it. In fact, Brady wasn’t quite yet the consensus GOAT that he is now when Garoppolo arrived here. Since Garoppolo arrived, Brady has passed for 113 touchdowns while throwing 20 interceptions, good for a quarterback rating of 103.6 that ranks No. 1 in the league. Oh, and he and Belichick each have two more rings. The trade is the trade. But in the four-year tug-o-war between Brady and Belichick – if that’s what we can call it – Belichick gained quite a bit.
Bill Belichick. OK, maybe we’re splitting hairs. Maybe Belichick actually won by drafting Garoppolo and not necessarily by trading him. But independent of Brady, he took a hit on the trade. In the spring, according to some reports, Belichick could have had a first-round pick from the Cleveland Browns for Garoppolo. Now he’s a getting a second-rounder, though it will be very high in the second round. Still, as far as asset management goes, Belichick whiffed on getting full value. And he traded Jacoby Brissett, too.
Stephon Gilmore. OK, so nobody knows how this is all going to shake out. And maybe we’re connecting dots that shouldn’t be connected. But with Garoppolo gone, the door is now open for the Pats to use the franchise tag on Malcolm Butler. What this means for Gilmore is anybody’s guess, but there is currently an interesting dynamic at the cornerback position. Butler appears to have won back Belichick’s love. Gilmore was inactive this past weekend after practicing. The plot thickens.
Brian Hoyer. OK, so you don’t care. But since leaving New England after being Brady’s backup, Hoyer has now played in Arizona, Cleveland, Houston, Chicago and San Francisco. Prior to this season, his career record as a starter was 16-15. That’s not great. But it’s not absolutely God-awful, either. Now, presumably, he gets to be Brady’s backup again. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.