• The Patriots are trying to shut down Jimmy Garoppolo trade rumors, but the league's most interesting backup is far from finished making waves on the QB situations of all 32 teams.
By Chris Burke
March 01, 2017

Don’t believe everything—or is it anything?—this time of year. Take with a grain of salt the report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Patriots “are not expected to trade QB Jimmy Garoppolo” this off-season. But if that does in fact turn out to be the case, the decision by New England’s front office to hold onto its much-hyped young quarterback would have ripple effects for at least the next year.

The most immediate effect would be on an already scattered QB market. Garoppolo, Tony Romo, Kirk Cousins and Tyrod Taylor were the four veteran quarterbacks needy teams had their eyes on headed into the off-season. Cousins is off the table, having been franchise tagged by the Redskins, Romo is under contract in Dallas, and the Bills still have the option to retain Taylor’s services into 2017 and beyond.

NFL free agency preview: Quarterbacks

Hence the anticipated Garoppolo fervor. Another factor is that Tom Brady’s backup is just 25 years old and—while he would be in line for a significant pay raise in the near future—carries a base salary of just $820,000 for next season. (Romo, by comparison, sits at $14 million in 2017 and $19 million in ’18, at least for the time being.)

So, what might have happened for the Patriots to walk back their Garoppolo sale?

The obvious answer is that they have yet to receive an offer they like, which may make this report a leverage play on New England’s part more than anything else: Leak that Garoppolo’s now off the market and see if any team comes back in a panic, with an augmented trade package.

The other possibility is that the Patriots simply don’t want to unload Garoppolo. That approach would put them in a bind next off-season when Garoppolo’s contract is set to end. Can they extend him with the promise that he’ll take over for Brady in the near future? Would they franchise tag a backup quarterback? That’s precisely what the Patriots did with Matt Cassel several years ago before trading him to the Chiefs, who reworked his contract.

Eventually letting Garoppolo walk still could be on the table. In that case, the Patriots likely would be in line for a third-round compensatory pick—they wouldn’t lose him without getting a little return. They obviously would prefer to wind up with a first-rounder or a couple of second-rounders if they do decide to part ways, but the potential comp pick provides a safety net.

No matter which way the Patriots go, this is far from the end of the story. Whether a team now swoops in with an overwhelming trade offer or the Patriots commit to Garoppolo long-term, there’s still a lot of ground that must be covered.

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