The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on November 1, 2017 · C4
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · C4

Boston, Massachusetts
Issue Date:
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
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C4 Sports The Boston Globe WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2017 Another bewildering move By Chad Finn GLOBE STAFF I wonder how the Patriots determined that Tom Brady will indeed play forever. I'll let you make COMMENTARY meavoca. do ice cream and Bill Belichick-is-a-convert-to-the-TB12 Method jokes after Monday's trade of presumed Brady successor Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers. I'm just going to stand over here and marvel at how Belichick blindsided us all again. I believed Brady was the Patriots quarterback who would become a Niner someday. I really did. He grew up in the Bay Area rooting for Joe Montana and the Niners dynasty. Then when he was grown up, he become a Patriot and surpassed anything Montana and the Niners ever achieved. I figured the season would come when he still wanted to play maybe at 43 years old, or 44 and Belichick, who is as nostalgic as a tree stump when it comes to roster-building, saw that Brady was at last slipping and might have sent him to the place where his football journey began. Not because of the symmetry. Because the Niners seemed like the kind of dysfunctional franchise that might give Belichick a half-dozen draft picks for a 40-plus quarterback with a golden past. Instead, Belichick traded the Niners his other quarterback, the soon-to-be 26-year-old with W2 impressive games' worth of experience and a presumably bright present and future, for a single second-round draft pick. When the news of the Garoppolo trade came late Monday evening with a tweet via ESPN's Adam Schefter, it was so shocking that the immediate reaction was: This must be a fake Twitter account. It was bewildering. That doesn't mean it's a bad deal. But . . . it's bewildering. Just like Belichick's curious trades of Matt CasselMike Vrabel for a second-round pick (which became Patrick Chung), or Drew Bledsoe to the division rival Bills for a first-rounder, or Jamie Collins to the Browns for a third-round pick a year ago, it Money was ON FOOTBALL Continued from Page CI od of time explored every option possible to try to sustain it, but just at this point felt like we had to make a decision. "It's just not sustainable given the way that things are set up." But money is no object in the NFL. The salary cap keeps rising significantly, the cap can be manipulated, and the owners are printing money. The Patriots could have found a way to keep Garoppolo next year if they really wanted to, especially since the franchise tag is just a one-year commitment. We don't know if money was the only reason the Patriots traded Garoppolo Monday. Belichick wouldn't say. We also don't know how the Patriots truly feel about Garoppolo, though Belichick raved about him Tuesday. ""The 49ers are getting a good player, and they're getting a good person, and they're getting a great teammate and they're getting a good quarterback," Belichick said. "He's a talented individual, was a great person to coach. I met with him weekly and, again, have a tremendous amount of respect for him." But Belichick left a few things unsaid. He clearly thinks Garoppolo can play, but does he consider Garoppolo a rare talent? Or does he believe that if the Patriots could find Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois with the 62nd draft pick, they can find another kid to groom in next year's draft? Hopefully, it's the latter. Otherwise, the Patriots may have made a huge blunder by trading away their next franchise quarterback, especially if it's because they didn't want to pay him. You don't let good football players walk out the door, definitely not at the sport's most important position. If Garoppolo turns out to be Aaron Rodgers or Steve Young, probably will look better a few years from now than it does in that moment of surprise when we learn of it. I kept thinking about what a great mood Belichick was in during his weekly interview with WEEI's Dale Arnold, Michael Holley and Rich Keefe. I think it was the most engaging I've ever heard him, and that includes the shows a day or two after he won Super Bowls. He was elaborative in his answers and even shared a funny story about the best Halloween costume he's ever seen. I think he may have even laughed audibly. And all along, he knew. The son of a gun knew the news was coming and few would understand why he traded Garoppolo. And he told a Halloween story. Amazing. Perhaps in his memoirs Belichick will share his full reasoning for trading Garoppolo now. But until then, we're probably not getting a detailed explanation unless he has an unexpected encounter with sodium pentathol. So what we're left with is educated speculation. So join me in attempting to draw a few conclusions: I believe the Patriots are convinced Brady has at least a couple more years in him at a high, if not supremely high, level. Brady is 90 days into his 40s, and he already has the fifth-most career touchdown passes (16) of a quarterback 40 or older, trailing only Warren Moon (37), Brett Favre (36), and Vin-ny Testaverde (24), and George Blanda (22). He could surpass all of them before the end of the season. I believe the Patriots realized it wasn't feasible to pay both Brady (due $21 million next year) and Garoppolo (who likely would have commanded $24 million had the franchise tag been placed on him after this season) without gutting the middle class of the roster. Reports that Garoppolo and the Patriots discussed a new contract and didn't make much headway make sense. If he were to make $20-something million to back up Brady, he might as well have had to be an outside linebacker adept at setting the edge and also thrive as a special teams gunner to justi- no object for Patriots then a franchise tag would be money well spent. Heaven forbid Garoppolo turns the 49ers into a Super Bowl contender, especially if the Patriots struggle to find the next young quarterback. They hit on Garoppolo, but missed on Ryan Mallett and Kevin O'Connell and didn't think too highly of Jacoby Bris-sett. Please don't tell me that they can't afford to pay $38 million in cash and $45 million in cap dollars for two quarterbacks next year. Don't tell me that it will hamper their ability to field a competitive team, or that spending that much money goes against all conventional wisdom. The Patriots have built a dynasty based on going against conventional wisdom. And have you taken a look at the NFL's finances these days? Robert Kraft and the other owners are doing just fine. The Patriots could have kept Garoppolo with the franchise tag and remained a Super Bowl competitor next year. Let's lay out the facts: The non-exclusive tag for quarterbacks, the lower of the two, was $21,268 million this year. So let's assume it is $23 million next year. If Garoppolo signed with another team after being given the non-exclusive tag, the Patriots would have received two first-round picks as compensation. Per the NFL Players Association, the Patriots currently have $157 million in salary cap commitments next year. The cap hasn't been set, but it has gone up $12 million each of the past two years. It is at $167 million this year, so let's conservatively assume the salary cap is $177 million next year. Plus, the Patriots will probably roll over $1 million-$2 million more in cap space. They will need to spend money at left tackle, and they have Malcolm Butler's contract to deal with. But they have fy the damage it would have done to the roster. I believe the Patriots may have had slightly better offers, but nothing resembling an outright draft-pick looting of their trade partner. The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that the Browns offered a second-round pick and "change" for Garoppolo during the draft. Of course I was surprised the Patriots didn't get a No. 1 pick. You know what that means? That they couldn't get a No. 1 pick. But Belichick thought this was enough. And Belichick the GM has helped Belichick the coach a heck of a lot more often than he's hurt him. Sure, the Patriots are driving without insurance now. The quarterback depth chart as of this writing is a single name, though it sounds as if Brian Hoyer could soon return to where his career began. If something happens to Brady and there is a long way to go on the journey toward Minnesota in February there would have been some hope that a sixth championship was possible with Garoppolo at the helm. It is not possible now. There is no backup plan if Brady gets hurt. If you're a Patriots fan, of course you hope this deal works out for the best. But I hope most Patriots fans want this to work out for Garoppolo, too. I'm convinced he was the second-best quarterback in the AFC East over the past two seasons. Like Jacoby Brissett, he is wearing different colors now, but Garoppolo remains easy to root for. I hope he blossoms with the Niners during their long turnaround, thrives under Kyle Shanahan as Matt Ryan did, and then, a few years from now, collides with Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The improbable can become reality in the time it takes for Belichick to act on an idea none of us would even know to consider. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is your latest proof. Chad Finn can be reached at Follow him on Twitter CHobeChadFinn. most of the team already under contract: Brady, Julian Edel-man, Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Dont'a Hightower, Devin McCourty, Stephon Gilmore, James White, Rex Burkhead, Kyle Van Noy, and four-fifths of the offensive line. They won't be big players in free agency as they were this year. The salary cap is fungible. There are always ways to create cap space by restructuring other contracts and converting salary into signing bonuses. The Patriots can create millions more in cap space by releasing Dwayne Allen, David Harris, and others. They can restructure Gronk, Cooks, or McCourty. So the Patriots could've made it work with Garoppolo and the franchise tag, if they really wanted to. They could have made the one-year spending commitment, just to buy an extra year of time to decide on Brady vs. Garoppolo. After a lengthy opening statement in which he stated his affection for Garoppolo, Belichick retreated into his usual mode. He didn't really explain why the Patriots felt that keeping Garoppolo was "unsustainable." "In the end, you put it all together and try to do what you think is best for the team," Belichick said. If the answer is that the Patriots believe they can find another young franchise quarterback to take over after Brady, then Belichick and his staff deserve the benefit of the doubt. This is a good year for quarterbacks in the draft, and the Patriots now have extra ammo. But if the only answer is that Garoppolo would have exceeded the team's self-imposed budget, Patriots fans shouldn't accept it. Ben Volin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter BenVolin MATTHEW J. LEEGLOBE STAFF Chris Hogan has been one of Tom Brady's top targets in 2017, with 33 catches and 5 TDs. Report: Hogan to rest injury By Nora Princiotti GLOBE STAFF Patriots receiver Chris Hogan left Gillette Stadium with his right arm in a sling Sunday after hurting his shoulder against the Chargers, but it appears he avoided serious injury. An MRI Monday revealed that Hogan won't need surgery, according to an NFL Network report, but he is expected to miss a week or two. With the Patriots on a bye this week, that would put his status in some doubt for Week 10 at Denver and possibly Week 11, in Mexico City against the Raiders. Hogan's agent, Erik Bur-khardt, declined to comment on his client's status. Hogan was hurt in a fourth-quarter collision and stayed down for several minutes. The Patriots said during the game that Hogan was questionable to return, and he never did after leaving the field for the locker room. After the game, Hogan needed help from trainers to get a shirt on. On his Monday conference call, coach Bill Belichick didn't Garoppolo thrilled with move PATRIOTS Continued from Page CI and said, 'This is just too good an opportunity to not take advantage of so we jumped at it." Speaking for the first time since the trade was announced, Belichick said Tuesday morning he has a "tremendous amount of respect for Jimmy" and he "couldn't ask for him to give us any more than he's given us" during his three-plus seasons with the Patriots. "The 49ers are getting a good player, and they're getting a good person, and a great teammate," Belichick said. "And they're getting a good quarterback." Belichick also lauded Shanahan when he said, "And Jimmy's getting a good coach." The Patriots coach said Garoppolo is talented and was a good person to coach and the decision to move him was based on the franchise's future. Garoppolo is set to become an unrestricted free agent at season's end and will command a high salary. Even if the Patriots decided to franchise him, it would cost them upward of $22 million for one season. Coupled with Tom Brady's $14 million salary for 2018 and the economics just don't add up. "As his career moves forward, we have to look at our team both this year and beyond," said Belichick. "We probably had, in my opinion, the best quarterback situation in the league in the last, call it IVi years, it's just not sustainable given the way that things are set up. It's definitely not something that we wanted to walk away from and I felt like we rode it out as long as we could." Belichick indicated the team's desire was to retain both Brady and Garoppolo but it became increasingly obvious that it wasn't going to happen. One say whether Hogan had avoided serious injury. "When we give our injury report next week, we'll include all the players on it that need to be included on it, like we always do," said Belichick. "So, you can be sure that anybody that should be listed on the injury report will be. I don't know which players those will be, but that's what the injury report is for." Hogan has taken quite a beating recently. Against the Jets in Week 6, he took a hard shot to the chest and hurt his ribs, then he lost two teeth in practice ahead of the Falcons game in Week 7. If Hogan does end up missing time, the Patriots would be without one of Tom Brady's favorite targets. Hogan is tied with Brandin Cooks for the lead among wide receivers in targets with 54. Among all receivers, only tight end Rob Gronkowski (56) has more. With Brady throwing his way often, Hogan has 33 receptions for 438 yards an average of 13.3 yards per catch FILE MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZASSOCIATED PRESS "We want him to be the quarterback of the future," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan says of Jimmy Garoppolo. of those options would have been to offer Garoppolo a mul-tiyear extension to ease the burden of the big cap hit, but that would have delayed him from his ultimate goal of being a starter. "We, over a period of time, explored every option possible to try to sustain it, but just at this point felt like we had to make a decision," said Belichick. "It's a very complex situation on multiple levels and this is really the last window that we had and we did what we felt was best for the team." Garoppolo said the trade happened so fast that he didn't get a chance to get back to Gillette to say goodbye to any of his Patriots teammates in person but that Brady texted him and they "talked for a second." He was asked what it was like to be around Belichick and Brady for so long and what he learned from the two future HallofFamers. "Those guys taught me a ton, going all the way back to my rookie year," said Garoppolo, who will wear his familiar No. 10 in San Francisco. "But I think some of the important things were how to prepare, and is tied with Gronkowski with a team-leading 5 touchdowns. Without Hogan, Cooks, and Danny Amendola would be the Patriots' top wide receivers, with Gronkowski still being the centerpiece of the offense. Phillip Dorsett and, in a pinch, Matthew Slater would be available as backups, but the Patriots would likely use their three-wide-receiver sets less often with Hogan out. In years past, the Patriots have been highly productive out of two-tight-end sets. With Dwayne Allen still waiting for his first catch as a member of the team, they don't have that personnel grouping to rely on. Brady had a lot of success throwing to running backs this past Sunday, and the Patriots could rely on someone such as James White, who can line up as a receiver. Some of their packages involving multiple players in the backfield, incorporating fullback James Deve-lin (who had a good day blocking against the Chargers), also could be featured more heavily. how to practice, how to prepare to practice . . . Those are little things but those are what set the tone for the team, so all those things going forward are only going to help me." Garoppolo added that he's been "eager to get this opportunity and I'm going to try and make the best of it." Lynch and Shanahan said they were aware of the risks of trading for somebody in the final year of their contract but that those concerns were secondary with their primary focus being on getting him up to speed with the playbook. Both agreed, however, that they view Garoppolo as their "quarterback of the future." "We brought him here, so we want him to be the quarterback of the future," said Shanahan, who said there's no timetable on when he'll see game action. "That's up to Jimmy and how it works out here. But we're going to work our best to get him ready." Jim McBride can be reached at james. mcbride Follow him on Twitter globejimmcbride.

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