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Why Ninkovich Thinks Patriots Are Still Pursuing Garoppolo

Something the former Pats LB saw showed him how much Belichick admirers Niners QB

It seems there are two schools of thought when it comes to the Patriots’ quarterback situation for 2021, and neither involve Cam Newton being handed the No. 1 job.

There are those that subscribe to the theory the Pats will draft a quarterback, with Alabama’s Mac Jones atop many people’s lists.

And then there are those that think the Pats have to bring in an established starter, someone along the lines of Jimmy Garoppolo, who seemingly has been in trade rumors about his return to New England from San Francisco since the day Tom Brady officially left.

You can count former Pats linebacker and current ESPN contributor Rob Ninkovich among those in the latter camp. And he credits something he saw after the 49ers trounced the Pats 33-6 in Week 7 last season for affecting his thinking.

Ninkovich was asked by The Greg Hill Radio Show on WEEI in Boston whether starting Newton, Garoppolo or a rookie quarterback would be ideal for the Pats this season.

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“I think Jimmy G. all the way,” Ninkovich said. “And last year was telling when the 49ers just destroyed the Patriots. I’ve never really seen Bill [Belichick] go up to a player and really embrace and give him a hug, talk to him like he did Jimmy G. after the Patriots got beat the way they did.

“Yeah, sometimes you see it when the Patriots beat up another team badly and then Bill walks up and talks to everybody and he’s got the ‘we just won’ face on, it’s great. But when the Patriots get beat badly, you don’t see that often, at all, ever.

“So when I saw that I’m like, alright, well Bill really respects Jimmy G, he really does. Even the way that they traded him because they could’ve traded him away somewhere else, but they put him in a position like the 49ers, they felt like it was a good situation for Jimmy G. So I really think that if he’s available and they can get him for not a crazy amount -- they can’t give away their whole draft -- but if they can get him for a reasonable amount of draft picks, they’ll go and get him. And if they don’t get him, they’ll have to go get a young quarterback.

“Just the way the roster is set up right now, with the amount of people they’ve brought in and what they’re paying Cam, I’d say it looks like they’ll go and draft somebody or go get Jimmy G. Because you don’t spend $100 million, or whatever they spent in free agency, and then your quarterback’s making five.”

If the Pats go the draft route for their quarterback, Ninkovich believes it’ll be Jones based on the Alabama stars smarts.

“[Belichick] wants a smart quarterback. He wants a quarterback that can put you in the best possible play against what the defense is showing you,” Ninkovich said. “Get back to 2001, when they had a young quarterback and a great defense. That’s what they need to do.”