Last Monday night, the New England Patriots organization made a move that seemingly caught most NFL teams and fans by surprise. Their decision to move backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers almost definitely means that the Patriots will aim to stick it out with future Hall of Famer Tom Brady until he retires.
The 26-year-old who was previously backing up Brady was traded to the 49ers for a 2018 second-round pick according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Garoppolo was being held on to in case Brady, who is now in his 40’s, went down with an injury. But the trade now leaves Brady to be the main guy until his playing days are over, with former San Francisco QB Brian Hoyer being added as the only backup on the team’s roster.
This is mainly unexpected because New England is an organization commonly known for adequately planning for their future. The stunning thing about trading away Garoppolo and only having Hoyer on the roster is that both coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft are putting all of their eggs in the Brady basket. Hoyer previously played for the Patriots when joining the league back in 2009, but by no means is he seen as a future starter after Brady is gone.
And in the past, Belichick has frequently noted that the Patriots need to remain strong on the depth chart at the quarterback position, because you never know what’s going to happen if Brady or anyone else goes down along the way.
Even though Garoppolo was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, he was a young and talented player who would have served in a transitional role, but will now instead become the likely starter out in San Francisco, who has struggled mightily at the quarterback position.
But expect the Patriots to use their newly acquired second-round pick to strategize around this move. Though this doesn’t necessarily mean they have their eyes on any particular QB coming out of the draft around that time, it does mean that there was some thought in deciding that Garoppolo was worth the extra pick, plus it will save the team cap space.
However, the addition of Brian Hoyer is at least a safety net for the Pats, considering he’s familiar with the team’s structure, not to mention that he’s remained friends with Brady since first leaving New England back in 2011.
Regardless, New Englanders will be happy to know that Brady will almost certainly retire as a Patriot, so their biggest hope now is that he can remain healthy. But with an organization that’s as precise with their front office moves as the Patriots, there shouldn’t be much reason to worry until Brady’s departure.
It hasn’t been discussed officially, but Brady says he wants to play until he’s at least 45, and with his contract running out in 2019, there will definitely be a big decision to be made regarding his longevity with the Patriots and in the league in general.