By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Here in New England, there’s been a lot of wondering and speculating about which young quarterback the Patriots might have their eyes on for Thursday night’s draft. But let us not forget … the quarterback they most covet could be the one they drafted seven years ago.

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While yes, the Jimmy Garoppolo scuttlebutt has essentially gone dark over the past month, the reality is that it’s now nut-cutting time for the San Francisco 49ers. And with the recent report stating that they’re locked in to either Mac Jones or Trey Lance, it seems they’ve made their decision on the quarterback of their future.

With that … one has to wonder what happens to the QB of the past. While teams generally don’t mind having a veteran in place to at least start the season before a first-round rookie takes over, such a scenario would be complicated in San Francisco. For one, the player would not feel particularly supported by the organization that just selected his replacement. For two — and this one’s bigger — keeping Garoppolo would cost the 49ers $26.4 million against the salary cap.

And so, it’s worth staying awake for any Garoppolo trade news this week.

NBC’s Peter King offered up some informed speculation in his Monday column, too, which indicated that first-round asking price could shift to a second-round demand.

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“It won’t surprise me if the Niners make Jimmy Garoppolo more available than he’s been,” King wrote. “In other words, instead of trying to get a first-round pick for him, maybe considering taking a two for him. I wonder if the Patriots would deal the 46th pick in the draft, or their second-rounder in 2022, for their old friend.”

To be clear … it feels safe to say the Patriots would absolutely deal the 46th pick in the draft for their old friend.

Of course, the money would still be obscene, so the Patriots would likely politely ask Garoppolo to restructure his deal before going through with any sort of trade. But considering Garoppolo has a no-trade clause and thus can veto any deal to any team he doesn’t want to play for, the odds of the Patriots being in the mix for him seem to be quite high.

Several accounts noted that Bill Belichick never really wanted to get rid of Garoppolo in the first place. It was just that pesky Tom Brady having an MVP season at age 40 forced Belichick’s hand to ship off Garoppolo before the 2017 trade deadline.

And after the 49ers made their big trade in late March to nab that third overall pick, a reunion in New England seemed to make too much sense to not happen.

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We’ll find out this week if all of that wondering and speculating was worth it.