Tom Brady’s Contract Extension May Lead to Patriots Getting Better Draft Pick
The most severe penalty levied against the Patriots as a result of the Deflategate saga was the stripping of their first round pick in this year’s draft. But Tom Brady’s new contract extension opens up the door for the Pats to essentially recover their loss.
With Brady now signed through 2019, Jimmy Garoppolo’s future in New England appears to be in doubt. His contract expires at the end of 2017, and barring unforeseen circumstances, there won’t be an opening at the quarterback position at that point. Unless Garoppolo, 24, intends to sit on the bench for the first six years of his career, it’s unlikely he would choose to return to the Patriots once he’s a free agent. (The Patriots could always franchise him, but it would be unheard of to pay a backup quarterback that kind of money. The franchise tag for QB’s this year, for example, is $16.192 million.)
Per usual, there are a number of quarterback-hungry teams around the league. Given that this year’s draft is strong on defense and weak on quarterback depth, some of those clubs may find trading for Garoppolo more enticing than taking a flier on an unheralded pass-thrower.
Garoppolo’s résumé is limited. He played his college ball at Eastern Illinois University and has only attempted 31 passes in two NFL seasons. But the Patriots thought highly enough of Garoppolo to select him in the second round two years ago. Spending a couple of years learning under Brady and Bill Belichick should only increase his value.
The Patriots are forbidden from acquiring a pick ahead of the 29th selection, which is where they would be sitting in the first round if it weren’t for the Deflategate sanctions. But several teams, including the Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, and San Francisco 49ers, all could be looking to draft a quarterback and have early second round picks to spare.
The Browns, who hold the No. 2 selection in this year’s draft, are expected to cut ties with the erratic Johnny Manziel once the new league year begins. Cleveland could draft a defensive player at the top of the first round and send the 32nd pick over to the Patriots in exchange for Garoppolo. The Cowboys, who own the 34th overall pick, might be looking to groom Tony Romo’s replacement. The 49ers have the 37th selection and their embattled starting quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, is reportedly seeking a trade.
The Patriots have drafted some notable players at the beginning of the second round in recent years, including Rob Gronkowski and Jamie Collins. In fact, given Belichick’s propensity to trade down, there’s no guarantee the Patriots would’ve kept their first round pick if they had one, anyway.
With the possibility that a federal appeals court could reinstate Brady’s four-game suspension, Garoppolo might have some value to the Patriots this upcoming season. But though the appeal hearing will take place Thursday, the three judges may not issue a decision until the late spring or early summer.
There’s more value in a high second round pick than four regular-season games. As it stands now, the Patriots aren’t slated to pick in the draft until No. 60 overall. That’s quite a handicap, but Brady’s extension opens up the door for them to skirt their way around that and outmaneuver the NFL.