A tangled legacy: What the Patriots got in the Jimmy Garoppolo trade

The 2017 trade produced a cascade of subsequent deals.

Jimmy Garoppolo and Tom Brady during Patriots training camp in 2016.

When the Patriots traded Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers in October of 2017, the return for the young quarterback was initially just a single 2nd-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft.

Over time, the legacy of the deal has become more complex, given what the Patriots did with that draft pick. Instead of simply using it to select one player, New England traded it to get more picks, then traded those picks, and continued trading an ever-evolving return of picks in each deal.

The perpetual trading of picks is a customary tactic of Bill Belichick and the Patriots, who have made it a habit over the years to constantly move up and down the draft board. That said, it does complicate the question that Patriots fans have been asking with increasing frequency since the 49ers made it to Super Bowl LIV: What exactly did New England get in return for trading Garoppolo?

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The answer (so far) is five players — including a quarterback — and two more draft picks to come in 2020. Of course, it’s entirely possible that Belichick decides to trade either players or picks linked to the deal, further extending its legacy.

Examining the full tree of trades that has spawned from the original Garoppolo trade provides a fascinating window into the crisscrossing web of draft pick-related deals that regularly occur in the NFL.

The list of players tied to post-Garoppolo Patriots trades is extensive and notable. The group includes Kerryon Johnson, Anthony Miller, Antonio Callaway, Mecole Hardman, and David Montgomery. None of those players were actually picked by New England, but all of them were selected using draft choices once held by the Patriots.

First, to answer the overarching question of the Patriots’ Garoppolo trade haul, here’s a look at the tally as it stands currently:

The short version

There are still two draft picks indirectly tied to the Garoppolo trade that the Patriots have yet to use. These are:

  • 2020 4th-round pick (acquired from the Bears as part of a trade that landed Chicago the 73rd overall pick in the 2019 draft, which was used to selected running back David Montgomery).
  • 2020 6th-round pick (acquired from the Broncos for cornerback Duke Dawson).

As for players, New England spun one draft pick into:

  • Christian Sam, linebacker
  • Joejuan Williams, defensive back
  • Damien Harris, running back
  • Yodny Cajuste, offensive tackle
  • Jarrett Stidham, quarterback

The long version

For those looking to completely trace the trail, here’s a timeline of the many trades that came as a result of the initial Garoppolo deal. The players who were eventually selected with those draft picks are listed in parentheses:

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Oct. 31, 2017: Patriots trade Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for a 2018 2nd-round pick (43rd overall, Kerryon Johnson).

April 27, 2018: Patriots trade a 2nd-round pick (43rd overall, Kerryon Johnson) to the Lions for a 2018 2nd-round pick (51st overall, Anthony Miller) and 2018 4th-round pick (117th overall, Jordan Whitehead).

April 27, 2018: Patriots trade a 2018 2nd-round pick (51st overall, Anthony Miller) to the Bears for a 2018 4th-round pick (105th overall, Antonio Callaway) and a 2019 2nd-round pick (56th overall, Mecole Hardman).

April 27, 2018: Patriots trade a 2018 4th-round pick (117th overall, Jordan Whitehead) along with a 2018 2nd-round pick (63rd overall, Carlton Davis) to the Buccaneers for a 2nd-round pick (56th overall).

New England then selected defensive back Duke Dawson (56th overall).

April 28, 2018: Patriots trade a 4th-round pick (105th overall, Antonio Callaway) to the Browns for a 2018 4th-round pick (114th overall, Da’Shawn Hand) and a 2018 6th-round pick (178th overall).

New England then selected linebacker Christian Sam (178th overall).

April 28, 2018: Patriots trade a 4th-round pick (114th overall, Da’Shawn Hand) to the Lions for a 2019 3rd-round pick (73rd overall, David Montgomery).

April 26, 2019: Patriots trade a 2019 2nd-round pick (56th overall, Mecole Hardman) and 2019 3rd-round pick (101st overall, Yodny Cajuste) to the Rams for a 2019 2nd-round pick (45th overall).

New England then selected defensive back Joejuan Williams (45th overall).

April 26, 2019: Patriots trade a 3rd-round pick (73rd overall, David Montgomery) and a 6th-round pick (205th overall, Duke Shelley) to the Bears for a 2019 3rd-round pick (87th overall), a 2019 5th round pick (162nd overall, Cameron Smith), and a 2020-4th round pick.

New England then selected running back Damien Harris (87th overall).

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April 26, 2019: Patriots trade a 2019 3rd-round pick (97th overall, Bobby Evans) and a 2019 5th-round pick (162nd overall, Cameron Smith) to the Rams for a 2019 3rd-round pick (101st overall) and 2019 4th round pick (133rd-overall).

New England then selected offensive lineman Yodny Cajuste (101st overall) and quarterback Jarrett Stidham (133rd overall).

August 30, 2019: Patriots trade Duke Dawson to the Broncos for a 2020 6th-round pick.