It is safe to say the next few days are going to be dominated by Seth Wickersham’s lengthy feature on troubles within the New England Patriots. Pat Holloway offered some thoughts on the issues involving Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Bob Kraft, but the Jimmy Garoppolo connection remains intriguing.
There is likely a lot of conjecture in the piece, and given that Belichick comes out looking decidedly better than Kraft and Brady, I think we can guess at who pushed out this story. Whomever is behind it, the San Francisco 49ers were beneficiaries of any Patriots squabbles. John Lynch talked about approaching the Patriots in the spring about Garoppolo, and getting quickly shut down. The fact that things changed so suddenly leading up to the trade deadline suggests something might have been amiss in Foxboro.
The article talked about Belichick not wanting to trade Garoppolo, and the organization “repeatedly offer[ing] Garoppolo four-year contract extensions, in the $17 million to $18 million range annually that would go higher if and when he succeeded Brady.” Wickersham reported Garoppolo and his agent Don Yee “rejected the offers out of hand.”
Wickersham said the reasons are unclear why they rejected the offers, but it seems pretty obvious to me. Brady was not going anywhere, and as long as Brady was around, Garoppolo would not get a real shot to compete for the starting job. He would be making a lot of money, but he would be carrying a clipboard for an indeterminate amount of time.
Instead, Garoppolo seems clearly intent on betting on himself, and that will likely reflect in the coming contract negotiations he has with the 49ers. It’s hard to figure out how this negotiation will go given that he has seven starts under his belt. He has looked great with the 49ers, but will we see Yee push for upper echelon money? Or will Garoppolo and his agent be willing to accept a little less with a chance to earn more with continued strong performances?
I’m not saying either is the right way, but Garoppolo is clearly willing to bet on himself. Getting $17 million in New England would set him up to eventually start, but he would have virtually no control over how long Brady played to a high level and wanted to stick around. That’s not really being able to bet on yourself.
In San Francisco, he is the starting quarterback, and barring injury, will remain so for the entirety of 2018. We could see a five or six year contract that pays a little lower early on with a chance to earn more. We could see a three or four year contract with a bit more that gives him a second bite at the apple fairly quickly. We could see the franchise tag that kicks the can down the road. And of course, we could see a five or six year contract that pays him among the highest quarterbacks in the league. There are a lot of ways this could go this offseason.