SF 49ers: What if Patriots never traded Jimmy Garoppolo
Domino No. 1: Jimmy Garoppolo’s future
The former Patriot, you may recall, was a pending free agent when the SF 49ers made the trade. After spending three years dutifully serving as then-Pats quarterback Tom Brady‘s backup, the question was starting to come up: would the Patriots spend money on a backup while Brady was still in town?
There was reportedly a standoff of sorts between Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick about whether it was time to move on from Brady and sign Jimmy Garoppolo to a lucrative deal, a move that would have certainly angered Brady and sent him out of New England sooner than what eventually happened.
So there are two options here: either the Pats re-sign Garoppolo and create tension within the quarterback room that led to Brady leaving earlier or Belichick wins but without the trade.
If the first option takes place, then Brady probably doesn’t end up in Tampa Bay, because the Buccaneers still had their high-priced quarterback, Jameis Winston, in tow. It might have made San Francisco a possible destination for the future Hall of Famer, fulfilling the former Northern California kid’s dream of playing for his hometown team.
Garoppolo would still be in New England, which would mean a few more players wouldn’t be, namely quarterback Cam Newton, who left the Carolina Panthers after almost a decade, but more on this in a moment.
If the second option happened, then Garoppolo becomes a free agent in the same way that several former Brady pupils had before him and likely signs a big-money contract with a team that was looking to upgrade at the position.
This leaves the SF 49ers in play, but also teams like the Minnesota Vikings, who eventually gave quarterback Kirk Cousins a fully guaranteed contract that offseason, the then-Washington Redskins, who lost Cousins and replaced him with quarterback Alex Smith via trade, and the Denver Broncos, who signed Case Keenum after a solid year in Minnesota.
Given the state of that free-agent class, which also technically included the New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees, Garoppolo still would have been among the better options, even if he would have still been unproven.
This doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have ended up in San Francisco, but it feels more likely someone like Cousins would have, or Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch would have opted to go another direction altogether.