There have been rumors swirling since last year about Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo and today the rumors finally became reality with the 49ers sending a 2nd round pick to the Patriots in exchange for the young QB. The trade is a pretty big one that will have some far reaching consequences.
First of all for the Patriots this is a great trade. The 49ers are currently slated to pick 2nd in the draft and barring a miraculous second half of the season should ensure that the Patriots have one of the top picks of the 2nd round. Those picks are essentially cheap first rounders.
There was a great deal of talk about how the Patriots were going to franchise Garoppolo and sit him behind Brady another year or trade him for a 1st rounder. Realistically none of that was going to happen. The Patriots organization trades away players more often than not once they become too expensive. To think that they would use the franchise tag on a backup who would never see the field except for injury seems pretty nonsensical. Odds are the best they would have done was a third round comp pick. So to move him in-season is a great job. This also eliminates any talk of moving on from Brady, which given the cap charges and his legendary status also seemed unlikely.
Originally the trade was to include Brian Hoyer, but he was removed from the deal once it was realized, as Nick Korte pointed out, that he would cost the Patriots one of their upcoming compensatory draft picks. Since Hoyer was a UFA this year a trade for him would work the same as if the Patriots signed him back in March. I would anticipate that Hoyer will still sign with New England this week. As long as he is released tomorrow he wont have to clear waivers before becoming a free agent.
The 49ers are now presented with an interesting opportunity. They can offer Garoppolo a large contract extension now and use up a ton of their 2017 cap room in the process making things much easier down the line if he becomes Rob Johnson. The 49ers haven’t signed a premier player contract since Colin Kaepernick a few years ago and in general are one of the tougher organizations with contracts. I’m not sure if they can do that with him given what they just moved for him.
The other option is to go the franchise tag route which may work for a year but if he is indeed as good as people seem to think that will backfire over the long term. My feeling is if they are convinced that he is good enough to part with that 2nd rounder then they should just do the deal in the next two weeks and get it over with.
I would think that this trade comes in part because of how poor the 49ers have looked since making the switch to CJ Beathard a third round draft pick who the 49ers seen to have already given up on. Once they made the move to Beathard it would be near impossible to go back to Hoyer so they may have seen this as the only way to maintain respectability rather than getting blown out the rest of the year en route to one of the top two picks in the draft.
The trade will also impact Kirk Cousins pending free agency. The feeling was that the 49ers were going to make an offer that the Redskins simply could not match for Cousins but that would seem to be off the table. Whether they soured on Cousins, needed an immediate upgrade, or realized that such an offer sheet would be pretty crazy it would seem that ship has sailed. That’s not to say that teams like the Jaguars, Browns or Jets wouldn’t be interested in Cousins but it will hurt him.
This may also say something about the draft prospects this year. While going into the season this was supposed to be a good QB class it sounds like that opinion is changing. To pass on a QB with the 2nd pick it means they didn’t think these guys were as good as Garoppolo and if they are going to extend him it means by a pretty wide margin.
That does open up the draft to QB needy teams like the Browns, Giants, Jets, and Cardinals all picking in the top 10. It also opens the door for the 49ers to shop the pick and get a haul in return more than making up for the 2 they are giving up in this trade. Recent trades for top qbs have been pretty lucrative for the team trading the pick.
Any way you slice it the trade really changes the dynamics of both free agency and the draft and well see how it plays out over the next few months.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.