As the NFL world waits for the next shoe to drop in the quarterback carousel, it appears the Patriots have multiple plans on how they’re approaching the situation.
The Patriots have Jimmy Garoppolo as their “Plan A” for their solution at quarterback this offseason, according to Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard.
“From what I gather from talking to people this week, over the past week, Jimmy Garoppolo still is far and away their Plan A,” Bedard said on his podcast this week. “That, if they had to draw it up, exactly the optimal situation for the Patriots for this coming season, it’s Jimmy G coming back here. And of course, that’s all dependent on the 49ers doing something.”
If Garoppolo is indeed “Plan A” for the Patriots, they should be pressing on the issue now, ESPN’s Mike Reiss wrote in his Sunday notes column.
“The Patriots can’t make another team trade with them,” Reiss wrote, “but they can at least make the San Francisco 49ers consider it with an enticing offer as the start of the new league year begins March 17, with salary-cap space at a premium.”
Reiss has argued in a previous column that the Patriots would be better suited getting their quarterback situation resolved sooner rather than later. With the free agency negotiating period beginning on March 15, Reiss believes having a quarterback could help the Patriots lure in a receiver.
“Not having a clear picture at quarterback by the start of free agency in mid-March will undoubtedly make things a lot more challenging for the Patriots as they potentially court top tight ends ([Hunter] Henry, Jonnu Smith) and wide receivers (Allen Robinson II, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay) to address glaring needs,” Reiss wrote.
The big issue in getting Garoppolo is that the 49ers would still have to agree to trade him. 49ers general manager John Lynch recently said Garoppolo “is our guy,” which would imply that they aren’t willing to move him. However, Reiss believes the Patriots should make an enticing offer (which he thinks could include their second-round draft pick or even cornerback Stephon Gilmore) to at least get the 49ers to think about it.
A reunion with Garoppolo for the Patriots has been speculated for much of the offseason. When the Patriots traded Garoppolo to the 49ers in 2017, Patriots coach Bill Belichick spoke highly of the quarterback he had just shipped out.
“First of all, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jimmy,” Belichick said then. “I couldn’t ask him to give more than he’s given us. The 49ers are getting a good player. They’re getting a good person, and they’re getting a great teammate, and they’re getting a good quarterback and Jimmy’s getting a good coach.
Another reason why a Garoppolo return to New England has been speculated is due to his current situation in San Francisco. Garoppolo’s started in just 25 of the 49ers’ last 48 regular-season games due to injuries. He also has a $26.4 million cap hit this season, a high number for someone who’s missed a lot of time, especially with the cap expected to drop by at least $10 million this offseason. If the 49ers move on from Garoppolo, they would free up more than $24 million in cap space.
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