A week ago Saturday, 40-year-old Tom Brady became the oldest quarterback in NFL history to win a playoff game. And most of last week was spent getting breathless updates on the state of Brady’s injured passing hand.
All of which made me think of the 49ers.
Explain it again. Why did the Patriots trade Jimmy Garoppolo to them?
When the deal was made, the night before Halloween, it seemed like an interesting move that might pan out.
Now, with the benefit of perspective, we realize what it was.
A freakin’ miracle.
You acquire a young (26), potential franchise quarterback, with NFL experience, who also happens to be a GQ hunk? For a second-round draft pick? When does that ever happen?
Garoppolo is already a folk hero here. Three weeks ago, in the wee hours of the morning, a 4.4 earthquake woke up most of the Bay Area. Half an hour later someone Tweeted: “Is Jimmy G OK?”
God knows the trade has been hashed and rehashed. Football experts have explained — slowly and patiently for we slow thinkers — that the Patriots made the logical call.
OK … but it still seems odd.
The justification starts with the fact that Jimmy G was going to be a free agent at the end of the season. An unrestricted free agent, meaning he could go wherever he wanted and be paid crazy cash.
So, the thinking goes, New England was going to lose him anyhow and figured it might as well get some value.
OK, but couldn’t New England just match the offers?
That’s when you get Part II of the justification. And you might want to make a note because this will come up again. It all comes back to Brady.
Garoppolo wants to play. He waited his turn and thinks this is it.
That’s the way of the NFL. Look at Kansas City. Dependable, likeable Alex Smith is getting hints from the Chiefs. The team may trade him and go with second-year gunslinger Patrick Mahomes.
But, as Brady has said in so many words: I ain’t goin’ anywhere. In fact, I might play until I am 45. Did you hear that, Jimmy?
Got it. But wouldn’t an alternative be for the Patriots to designate Garoppolo a franchise player? That would hold him on the roster for a year while they worked something out.
They could, but estimates are Garoppolo would get something like $22 million if he was franchised. That’s serious money for a backup.
And again, it all hinges on the premise that Brady is going to step away in the near future. And (see above) it doesn’t look likely. What’s more, the organization isn’t nudging him.
And here’s a chance to throw out some wild rumors.
There is a narrative where head coach Bill Belichick tells Brady his days are numbered. And Brady, the story goes, heads to his pal, team owner Robert Kraft, and complains. Kraft tells Belichick to stick with Brady, which results in the trade.
All right … sketchy.
But it all boils down to the fact that Garoppolo was going to become a free agent and whether you franchised him for one year or not, he wasn’t going to stay as long as Brady had the job.