When it comes to trades and the NFL draft New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is sometimes attributed with near mystical powers. Few want to trade with Belichick for the risk of appearing foolish and yet it happens time after time. Belichick is the guy who was able to acquire Randy Moss at the end of his prime for just a fourth-round pick. In the draft Belichick constantly trades down to secure more picks and thus have more chances of selecting a quality player.
Basically, everyone constantly expects Belichick to pull off something astounding. With this in mind, the possible scenarios surrounding a Jimmy Garoppolo trade are being severely downplayed. Garoppolo represents Belichick’s most coveted trade asset since forever. In Garoppolo, Belichick has a 25-year old quarterback who is just entering his prime and has looked great in very limited action. Garoppolo was originally a second-round pick and there are rumors he has at least a few decision makers around the league believing he is a franchise quarterback.
With that in mind let’s try to figure out the most “Belichickian” trades possible for this once in a lifetime asset. If Belichick really does have the unlimited powers that are sometimes attributed to him these are absolutely the top five trades he would try to pull off.
Possible Jimmy Garoppolo Mega Trades Scenarios
The Jedi Mind-Trick
New York Jets: Garoppolo and a fourth-round pick for Eric Decker.
The whisperings have already started that it will be revealed just how good Garoppolo really is based on where Belichick sends him. If he sends him out of the conference, or possibly to a weak team like the Cleveland Browns, he is very good. If he sends him to the Houston Texans, or a possible contender, then Garoppolo might be alright, but Belichick is not afraid of him. If The Hoodie pulls a “Drew Bledsoe” on him and ships him to a team within the division then there is almost no chance of Garoppolo becoming a star player.
So if Belichick has the guts to send him to the Patriots most hated division rival would it be enough to get everyone to collectively write-off Garoppolo before he even has his first start? Would the New York media begin to overreact to every bad play he has in training camp and effectively sabotage his chances of ever being embraced by the Jets faithful? Would the confusing swap even be enough to get Garoppolo to start to doubt his own abilities? If this trade did happen everyone would constantly be waiting for the other shoe to drop. Even if Garoppolo started out 3-0 nobody would totally buy in. That would be the ultimate Jedi mind trick and a pure Belichickian maneuver.
The compensation even appears low, but that is all part of the trick. With this move Belichick would be trying to make everyone believe he is dumping Garoppolo off.
Houston Texans: Garoppolo for J.J. Watt
Is Houston desperate enough for a franchise quarterback that they are willing to part with their best player? There are some reasons why this isn’t totally believable, but Houston did have the number one ranked defense in yardage last season without Watt. How much of a boost will they get from his return? He is recovering from a nasty back injury and no one can be sure he will return as the perennial MVP candidate he was prior to his injury. Even with these concerns it still seems a little far fetched. But the entire trade hasn’t been revealed yet:
Revised Trade: Houston Texans: Garoppolo for J.J. Watt and Brock Osweiler
The Patriots are one of the few teams in the league with the salary cap space to absorb the horrid Osweiler contract. If they take that on along with J.J. Watt then suddenly Houston is rolling in cap space. They would save $14 million in 2017 alone just by shedding their two highest priced players. So is Houston better off adding J.J. Watt to the number one defense and sticking with Osweiler? Or are they a better team returning the same defense from last season with Garoppolo at quarterback and another play maker on offense with all the extra cap room, like possibly Alshon Jeffery. At the very least Houston has to consider this right?
For the Patriots part they would add a hopefully healthy, once in a generation talent, in Watt, which would offset some of their expected free agency losses on defense this season. Osweiler would stick around for one season as either second or third string and then either re-work his contract or get cut and end up as just $6 million in dead money on the Patriots cap.
Chicago Bears: Garoppolo for 2017 second-round pick and 2018 first-round pick
Everyone is aware how much Belichick loves to acquire future first round picks so this deal is right up his alley. Plus he gets to add to his team for the 2017 season with a second-round pick, which would bring the teams’ total to five picks in the top 103. But that is not the real genius of the trade.
Garoppolo goes to Chicago and says he will accept a deal below top quarterback money but he has two conditions. One is the deal is for only four seasons, the second is that the Bears will not franchise tag him at the end of the deal. Garoppolo explains that both conditions will allow him to be a free agent before he turns 30 which is important to him. The Bears agree to these terms and sign him to a reasonable deal averaging $15 million per season.
Flash Forward to 2021 when Tom Brady has just retired after winning his seventh Super Bowl and the Patriots are in need of a quarterback. Garoppolo is a newly minted free agent and signs with the Patriots on the first day of free agency. Roger Goodell (sorry, he is still the commissioner) immediately fines the Patriots 17 first-round draft picks for collusion and Patriots fans collectively laugh in his face, “Clearly, we are immune to your punishment” they shout, and Roger weeps.
This could happen.
The Non-Trade Trade (for 2017)
Belichick is unsatisfied with the litany of two mid-range pick deals he is receiving from teams. Convinced Garoppolo is worth more he decides to play the 2017 season with him. Only instead of announcing Brady as the starter he decides that the rest period for Brady worked so well in 2016 that the Patriots will employ it again this season. Garoppolo starts six games on the season and performs well. He is used for most of September to shorten Brady’s season and also given spot starts late in the year.
At seasons’ end the Patriots franchise Garoppolo to avoid losing him. But his performance during the season solidified his capabilities as a starter in the NFL so much that teams are now beating down the door to get him. The new asking price is two first-round picks plus additional mid-round selections.
The Godfather Offer
Cleveland Browns: Garoppolo for 2017 first (12th), second, forth, and fifth-round picks. Plus 2018 second-round pick.
The exact scenario Belichick would like to see play out is that two or more teams emerge as strong contenders for Garoppolo, a bidding was ensues, and Belichick can choose the best offer.
Why would Cleveland give up so much? If a bidding war does start then Cleveland is the team best positioned to come out on top. Not a single one of the above picks traded to the Patriots is an original Cleveland Browns selection! In other words, the Browns can add the player they believe to be their franchise quarterback and still have a full draft board in 2017 and 2018.
The 2017 first-round pick and the 2018 second-round pick are part of the deal with the Browns made with the Philadelphia Eagles when Philly acquired the second overall pick in 2016 (the Carson Wentz trade). The 2016 second round pick is part of the 2016 swap with the Tennessee Titans which saw the Browns move down seven spots in the first-round. The forth-round pick is a compensatory selection. The fifth-round pick is originally from the Patriots in the Barkevious Mingo trade.
It only takes two teams to start a bidding war. On top of Cleveland it is easy to see Chicago or the San Francisco 49ers being willing to throw their hat into the race. If that happens the Browns can pull this trade off without sacrificing their long term future. And Belichick can add to his legacy as a trade genius.