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Report: Patriots ‘still sniffing’ around for a possible Jimmy Garoppolo reunion

ESPN’s Diana Russini says there is a sentiment around the league that New England is still interested in trading for Jimmy G.

Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Another day and another rumor involving San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

ESPN Diana’s Russini had a segment on the network’s morning show Get Up and gave some information about the New England Patriots still being interested in reuniting with Jimmy G. (h/t CBS Boston)

“Just recently I was talking to somebody in the league who I really trust,” Russini said. “He’s got good information. He said, ‘Do not take the Jimmy Garoppolo trade off the table.’ That is something New England is still sniffing out.”

Russini added: “Bill [Belichick] doesn’t like to put his cards out on the table, so most [people] think, ‘Oh well if we all know about that, that probably won’t happen.’ But there is definitely a tone in the league that it could still go down.”

The Patriots selected Garoppolo in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and he spent the next 3.5 seasons there as a backup to Tom Brady. When Brady was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 campaign, Garoppolo was pegged to be the starter until Brady returned. He won the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals. He threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns before being hurt in the second quarter of New England’s Week 2 win over the Miami Dolphins.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was very complimentary of Garoppolo before last season’s matchup against the Niners.

“Everybody here had a lot of confidence in him. It’s one of those situations where you’re just not able to keep all the players based on how the system is set up. It’s understandable.”

New England re-signed Cam Newton, who struggled last season, so it makes sense that it wants an upgrade at the quarterback position.

From a 49ers’ perspective, getting rid of Garoppolo at this point makes little sense because San Francisco is built to win now. The Niners had the opportunity to get a bonafide replacement. Still, they reportedly didn’t make a firm offer to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford, who wound up being traded to the Los Angeles Rams.

Other than some NFL insiders reporting that San Francisco is interested in Deshaun Watson, we haven’t heard anything about general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan being interested in moving on from Garoppolo at any cost. (Shanahan and Lynch are scheduled to meet with the media Monday at 1 p.m PT).

The Niners have stood pat at quarterback through Phase 1 of NFL free agency but could certainly look to select a signal-caller at next month’s 2021 NFL Draft.

Even if they do take a QB, it will make sense for Garoppolo to be under center for Week 1. The 49ers have a championship nucleus, with George Kittle, Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, Trent Williams, and Deebo Samuel being the lead dogs on a stacked roster.

Out of the 110 quarterbacks to start in the 55 total Super Bowls, none has been a true rookie. So the Niners would be betting against history in a big way if they gave the reigns to, say, Trey Lance or Mac Jones next season.

Here is a list of rookie QBs since 2004 (that started a bulk of their team’s regular-season games) who made the playoffs in Year 1 and how they did in the postseason:

Lamar Jackson - Baltimore Ravens (2018) 0-1
Dak Prescott - Dallas Cowboys (2017) 0-1
Russell Wilson - Seattle Seahawks (2012) 1-1
Robert Griffin III - WFT (2012) 0-1
Andrew Luck - Indianapolis Colts (2012) 0-1
Andy Dalton - Cincinnati Bengals (2011) 0-1
Mark Sanchez - New York Jets (2009) 2-1
Joe Flacco - Ravens (2008) 2-1
Matt Ryan - Atlanta Falcons (2008) 0-1
Ben Roethlisberger - Pittsburgh Steelers (2004) 1-1

*Connor Cook (Las Vegas Raiders), A.J McCarron (Bengals), and T.J. Yates (Houston Texans) started in the playoffs because of injury. Only Yates won a postseason game.

The injury concerns about Garoppolo are valid, given that he has missed 23 starts over the past three seasons and was hurt during his second start with the Patriots. With no more reputable veterans available in free agency, having a talented rookie as a backup plan with this roster makes a ton of sense, considering what we saw from Nick Mullens last season.

Garoppolo has shown he can lead a team to a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl appearance when he’s healthy. He threw for 3,978 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in 2019, and his 60.9 QBR ranked 12th out of all NFL quarterbacks.

The 2021 campaign will be a make-or-break year for Garoppolo. If he fails to stay on the field, it’s highly-likely that San Francisco will cut him following the season with only $1.4 million in dead money on the books for 2022 (per Over the Cap).

But unless the 49ers make a trade for Watson, who is dealing with several lawsuits stemming from numerous sexual assault allegations, it is becoming increasingly likely that Garoppolo will be the starter in 2021.