FOXBORO - Walking off the practice field as a steady rain continued to tumble down, Jimmy Garoppolo smiled widely as he approached the media horde. It seemed a perfect metaphor for where the 25-year-old is right now: a wanted man with a bright future, a future that for now has him remaining in a Patriot uniform, with various outlets even debating whether Garoppolo would sign an extension that will keep him in Foxboro beyond this season.
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“I would entertain any possibility,” Garoppolo said when asked, “but I'm really not thinking about that too much with OTAs and training camp right around the corner.”
Instead, Garoppolo is making sure he continues to work toward his ultimate goal - being the guy - while understanding how fortunate he is to be a member of this organization.
“A very fortunate situation,” said Garoppolo. “To come into a place, get drafted here, there’s just good people all around the building, from support staff to the lunch ladies and everything. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s just a good group of people. It rubs off on everybody.”
Most assumed Garoppolo would be a goner this offseason, traded to the highest bidder for a cache of draft picks. But Bill Belichick never entertained the notion, leading at least one prominent NFL insider to use the word “successor” when talking about the Patriots quarterback situation with Garoppolo and the GOAT, Tom Brady.
“It’s awesome,” he said of the QB room, including Jacoby Brissett in the mix. “It’s very competitive, I’ll say that. Whatever it is, arguments break out and it gets competitive. That’s how quarterbacks are I guess. It’s great being around them.”
But for how long can they all co-exist? Brady has made his intentions to play on until at least his mid-40’s, Brissett is a third-round pick from a season ago and Garoppolo is entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract.
“Obviously I want to play,” said Garoppolo. “That’s the competitor in me. I think everyone out here wants to play. I think we come out here and compete for that opportunity, and if you go out there and earn it, it’s yours.”
“Nothing is going to be given to you, especially here. If you’re going to be the starter, you’re going to have to earn it.”
Garoppolo got his taste a year ago, subbing for the suspended Brady to start the season. But after less than six quarters, he was felled by a shoulder injury and only got the occasional mop-up duty once Brady returned. That opportunity to start though was invaluable.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “You learn how to prepare. You think you know being rookie sitting on the bench and everything but you don’t know till the bullets are flying around you and you get to experience it. So, it was an experience that I’ll carry with me for a long time."
Sooner or later, Garoppolo will get to decide his own future, but until then, he’s wisely absorbing all the lessons that can be learned with this coaching staff and with TB12 ahead of him on the depth chart.