Nick Wright: The Patriots must trade Jimmy Garoppolo to maximize Tom Brady’s career

If and when Kyle Shanahan leaves the Falcons for his first NFL head coaching job with the San Francisco 49ers, the Atlanta offensive coordinator might have a starting quarterback in mind already.

Earlier this week, Shanahan confirmed he was a huge fan of Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo in the 2014 draft, placing the New England backup higher on his draft board than names such as Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater. Yet Shanahan, who was the offensive coordinator for the Browns at the time, was unable to convince Cleveland’s front office to pass on Manziel.


“He was a very good thrower,” said Shanahan. “Tough guy, kept his eyes down the field, could get rid of the ball fast. Really liked the person. Had a chance to go out to dinner with him and stuff. He played at Eastern Illinois, and it was a different type of offense where you can’t always evaluate with how quick they get rid of the ball. But I really thought he was a very intelligent, tough player with a good throwing motion.” […]

“It’s been a great deal for him I’m sure in the situation he is, being behind Tom [Brady], seeing how they do it,” he said. “I’m sure when he does get his opportunity whether it’s earlier this year in the two games he played or possibly next year, who knows what will happen — I’m sure he’ll be ready.”

Perhaps Shanahan is simply saying kind things about a player on a Super Bowl opponent to prevent generating any possible bulletin-board material for the Patriots, but his praise for Garoppolo seems genuine. However, if the 49ers really want the Patriots backup, New England should look to make a move to maximize Tom Brady’s remaining window as an elite starter.

That was Nick Wright’s argument on an episode of the Make Me Smarter football podcast live from Houston this week, as the FS1 host talked to Cris Carter about the Patriots’ offseason plans, regardless of whether they win Super Bowl LI against Atlanta:

NICK: This is a general football philosophy — sports philosophy, actually. If you have a chance to win a championship, if you have the pieces in place to win a championship, planning for the future is overrated.

I say that to say this: New England’s known for cutting guys a year early instead of a year late. New England’s known for trying to stockpile draft picks. Since they’ve had Tom Brady, they’ve drafted a multitude of quarterbacks: drafted Ryan Mallett, drafted Matt Cassel, drafted Garoppolo. They spend draft capital on a position where they’ve got the greatest player maybe in the history of the league.

So I get why they’ve done that. But now that Tom Brady is 39, and as great as he’s been, the window’s got to be closing soon. This offseason, if you can get a first-round pick for Jimmy Garoppolo — I get it, you think, “We can do what the Packers did and go from Favre to Rodgers!” Forget that. Guess what? As great as those quarterbacks are, Favre and Rodgers, in the last 30 years, the Packers have won two Super Bowls. The Patriots could win two in the next two years.

If you can give Tom Brady an extra weapon, or add a corner to the defense — do something to win next year’s Super Bowl, or the year after, and it costs you Jimmy Garoppolo? I think that’s something you’ve got to do. I think you’ve got to go all-in on the end of the Tom Brady era.

As Cris points out, there’s another reason to trade Garoppolo — Bill Parcells has been mentoring Jacoby Brissett, and Bill Belichick might believe that in the long-term, Brissett is actually the answer to replace Tom Brady in New England.

Check out the rest of this episode of the Make Me Smarter podcast above, then head over to iTunes to subscribe, give a five-star rating, and leave a review.