The future isn't now for Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo

The future isn't now for Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo

HOUSTON -- Ever since Tom Brady took Father Time over his knee and gave him a dose of corporal punishment, Jimmy Garoppolo's future with the Patriots has been dissected more times than those damn frogs in sixth-grade science class (and yes, I'm convinced it was the same 25 every year). To his credit, Garoppolo has tried to downplay all talk, especially this week with Super Bowl Sunday looming.


"There's a lot of talk about it," he told me earlier in the week. "People have been asking me about it but right now and for the rest of the week, it's all Falcons. There are just so many things going on. It's a hectic week. Just to focus on that [the Falcons] alone is all I can do."

But the latest batch of rumors for NFL insiders continues to bubble to the surface. Cleveland is reportedly interested. Now Chicago.

"Yeah, I mean I've heard those. Lot of things going on, rumors, but that's all they are, rumors."

I repeated Chicago though, his hometown team. I got a big smile but nothing more. Another reporter asked if that was important to him? Playing close to home?

"It's not really my call. We'll see what happens."

Instead, Garoppolo is choosing to remain locked in on preparing for the speedy Falcons defense and the knowledge that he could find himself in the game as quick as you can snap your fingers.

"I have to prepare. And I'm working hard every day to do that."

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, a big advocate of Garoppolo's dating all the way back to his draft year, has no doubt the 25-year-old would be ready to go.

"He's a professional now," said McDaniels. "He's not a rookie anymore. He understands what that means, to go through a practice week and know that you're not starting but you're going in after the first series depending on what happens. I think he approached it the right way, had a great mindset, great attitude, worked extremely hard to be ready to go and tried to go out there and do his job."

Falcons backup quarterback Matt Schaub was once in the very position Garoppolo finds himself in now, a young, promising backup playing behind a franchise quarterback (or at least what Atlanta thought was a franchise QB in Michael Vick).

"Having been in similar shoes of his way back in my career, you can only control what you can control and that's your job, your process -- getting yourself as ready as you can for that next game regardless of whether it's a regular-season game, a playoff game or the Super Bowl," he told me. "You've just got to be in the moment and concentrate on that. The rest will take care of itself down the road. You can't control where you're going to be in the future. You just need to focus on what you can do to get better that day."

McDaniels thinks Garoppolo has been in the right headspace and has the right approach, one born of nearly three full seasons with the Pats.

"He's learned over the course of a few years," McDaniels said. "He's been in our room for three years, He's seen Tom prepare for games. We've coached him the same way we coached every other guy in that room, and he just had an opportunity to do it and you know I think he represented himself well when he was out there. He helped us win a couple football games."

Seems more and more likely that Garoppolo will get a chance to win more than just a couple games elsewhere, if not next season then certainly the year after that when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. That's what he wants, the opportunity to be the number one guy, be it here or somewhere else.

"That's why we play the game, to be the one out there playing," he said. "You know, it's tough not being out there, but it's an opportunity -- a great opportunity -- to come here, learn everything I can, play when I could and hopefully it will help going forward."

Second ex-Pats OT to make free-agent visit to Cowboys

Second ex-Pats OT to make free-agent visit to Cowboys

The Patriots, who lost left tackle Nate Solder to the Giants last week, have a couple of his possible replacements, Cameron Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle, reportedly making free-agent visits to the Dallas Cowboys.

The Fleming visit was reported Sunday. On Monday, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that Waddle will be joining his former Patriots teammate in Dallas.

Replacing Solder is obviously a key part of the Patriots offseason and retaining Waddle or Fleming could figure into those plans. Waddle, who turns 27 in July, was signed from the Detroit Lions in 2016 and appeared in 12 games last year, starting four. Fleming, a fourth-round Pats pick from Stamford in 2014, turns 26 in September and also played in 12 games last season, starting six.


What are the Patriots getting in Cordarrelle Patterson?

What are the Patriots getting in Cordarrelle Patterson?

The Patriots have made a trade with the Raiders to acquire receiver and special teamer Cordarrelle Patterson, according to a source. The deal, first reported by Pardon My Take, is an interesting one because it lands Patterson with the team that passed on the opportunity to draft him back in 2013. 


Bill Belichick dealt the No. 29 overall pick to the Vikings that year in exchange for four selections, including a second-rounder and a third-rounder. The second-rounder became Jamie Collins, and the third became Logan Ryan. The Patriots also took Josh Boyce with a fourth they received in the trade, and the fourth pick (a seventh) was traded to Tampa Bay in exchange for LeGarrette Blount. The Vikings took Patterson. 

Patterson's career to this point has been a mixed bag. One of the top athletes in the 2013 draft, the Tennessee product never quite panned out as a go-to No. 1 receiver. He has not missed a game in five seasons, but he has never cracked 600 offensive snaps in a single season. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder has turned himself into more of a gadget receiver as well as one of the game's best special teamers. 

Here's what the Patriots are getting in Patterson . . . 

TOP-TIER SPECIAL TEAMER: Patterson has solidified himself as one of the NFL's best kick-returners. In five seasons, he's ranked as the top returner in terms of average yards per return three times. He's never been outside of the top 10 in the league in that category. Last year he was sixth in the NFL with a 28.3 yards per return average. Patterson has also become a highly-effective gunner on punt units, a role he thrived in once he embraced it, and he has kick coverage experience. Patterson has not been a punt-returner. He has just one punt return under his belt compared to 153 kick returns. Patterson has been named a First-Team All-Pro twice for his work in the kicking game. 

INCONSISTENT RECEIVER: Patterson has never been able to take his explosiveness and translate that into consistent production offensively. He's not thought of as a precise route-runner, and he has a reputation as a "body-catcher." Yet, because he's so dynamic with the ball in his hands, offenses in Oakland and Minnesota have found ways to get the ball in his hands. He'll align in the backfield, take reverses and catch screens just to try to get him the ball in space where he can let his natural abilities take over. If he gets a crease, he can create a chunk play in a blink. 

THE COST: Patterson is in the second year of a two-year deal he signed with the Raiders last offseason. He has a base salary of $3 million and a cap hit of $3.25 million. The Patriots will be sending a fifth-rounder to the Raiders and getting a sixth-rounder back. (As an aside . . . The Patriots have used one fifth-round pick in the last six drafts. It was spent on long-snapper Joe Cardona. Why are they constantly dealing fifths away? Inside the Pylon's Dave Archibald did an interesting piece on that topic about a year and a half ago. The gist is that a) there's a significant drop-off in your chances of finding a star in the fifth compared to the fourth, and b) the talent in the fifth round, by some metrics, hasn't proven to be all that different from the sixth or seventh rounds.) 

THE FIT: Patterson is a relatively low-risk acquisition because of his cap hit (which on the Patriots slots him in between Shea McClellin and Chris Hogan) and because of the draft capital required to nab him. Trading for a player like Patterson as opposed to signing another team's free agent has the added benefit of not impacting the compensatory-pick formula. Patterson also fills a few needs. His abilities as a kick-returner will be more than suitable with last year's primary kick returner for the Patriots, Dion Lewis, out of the mix. What Patterson can do as a gunner and in kick coverage will also be useful with Johnson Bademosi now elsewhere. There's also a chance Matthew Slater plays in a different city in 2017, in which case Patterson's contributions as a gunner and in kick coverage could be critical. With Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman and Hogan all established in the Patriots offense, Patterson won't be expected to take on a heavy role in the Patriots offense. However, if he can pick up a new system, perhaps he could take on a role as a No. 4 or 5 wideout who benefits from plays designed to get him touches in space. Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett and Kenny Britt -- now alongside Patterson -- will all be competing for time in New England's offense. Former Patriots coaching assistant Mike Lombardi seems to believe it's unlikely Patterson contributes offensively