It’s no secret the New England Patriots will be on the prowl for a quarterback when the NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday.
But even as some NFL analysts project trade-ups and top quarterback prospects like Justin Fields falling as low as the Patriots’ 15th overall pick, others think it’s more likely New England ends up bringing back an old friend to fill its future quarterbacking need.
NBC Sports writer Peter King suggested Monday the San Francisco 49ers could make veteran starter and former Patriot Jimmy Garoppolo “more available than he’s ever been” via trade should the 49ers select a signal-caller, especially Mac Jones, third overall Thursday night.
For NFL Network’s Mike Giardi, Garopplo, not one of the two quarterback prospects remaining after the 49ers’ pick at No. 3, could be the most feasible option for the Patriots to bolster the position.
“To me, the Jimmy thing is the one that makes sense,” Giardi told the Mut at Night Show on WEEI Monday. “…They are interested in the player. [Bill Belichick] loved the player. He didn’t want to trade the player…Even the way that was handled shows how he feels about Jimmy. The idea of having him come back, he knows the system. Clearly, an upgrade as a passer from the guy that they have in there (Cam Newton).”
Garoppolo, the Patriots’ second-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, has received no assurances from his current coach Kyle Shanahan about his future on the roster once the 49ers do select at quarterback third overall after being proclaimed the team’s best short-term option a mere month ago. San Francisco has said in the past it would seek a first-round pick for Garoppolo, but King suggested the Patriots might be able to re-acquire him for a second-round pick.
The 30-year-old passer helped lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance in 2019 but has only started more than six games in one of his four years with San Francisco. He’d also carry a $26 million cap hit in 2021 — a number the Patriots would certainly look to lower via a restructuring of his contract should they deal for him.
But Giardi indicates Garoppolo’s familiarity with the team and veteran presence would be a solid consolation prize should the Patriots fail to acquire a top quarterback prospect.
“I think that is the thing that makes the most sense because they feel their team is ready to win now,” he explained. “I don’t know whether it is championship-quality with or without Garoppolo — definitely not without. With, if you get the max out of Jimmy, maybe. I think that is the thing that is most palpable.”
Perhaps where there’s smoke, there’s fire: NESN’s Doug Kyed reporters multiple league sources also believe Garoppolo is the most probable quarterback option for the Patriots to land this weekend — a fact that could be even more true should the 49ers pick the ostensibly NFL-ready Mac Jones.
On the other hand, Giardi suggests people shouldn’t get their hopes too far up that the Patriots will trade up into the top 10 for a quarterback, saying a lot has to go New England’s way to make that a possibility: “To me, it looks like, unless someone really falls into that 12-13 range, I don’t see it.”
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