Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Quarterback
By Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry
This is the twelfth in a series of position-by-position looks at the Patriots by Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry as we head into the offseason. Today's position: Quarterback
Tom Brady, 38, signed through 2017
Jimmy Garoppolo, 24, signed through 2017
No signs of slowing down for the most accomplished quarterback in NFL history and the man’s got just one more year on his deal. If the Patriots are going to get something done before Tom Brady starts playing football in his “walk” year, they have 17 months to get that done. It will be perhaps the most important negotiation of Brady’s career since it will determine whether he finishes his career with the team he started like Marino, Elway, Bradshaw and Aikman did or does the unthinkable and finishes elsewhere like Montana, Unitas, Favre and Manning all did. In order for the latter to take place, the Patriots would have to feel comfortable with Brady’s replacement and Garoppolo – obviously – would be that. How do the Patriots go about gathering intel on Garoppolo’s suitability to replace Brady? Whether they intend to do so or not, they have to do their due diligence. It’s going to be a fascinating process. To say the very least.
The Patriots have one quarterback who will be 39 years old when the 2016 season begins. He was playing at an MVP level before the end of the 2015 season when his offensive line struggled to keep him upright.
The Patriots have another quarterback who will be 24 years old when the 2016 season begins. He has yet to take a meaningful snap in an NFL game. There's no question here as to which player will take on what role in the fall. Instead, the question is if (and when) both players will receive contract extensions. A lot can change in two seasons -- look no further than Peyton Manning's 2013 and 2015 for evidence of that -- but at the rate he's going, Tom Brady will still be a highly-effective quarterback when his contract is up. By all accounts, he will want to play well after his contract is up. Will the Patriots want him to do it in New England? If so, for how long? And will Brady's career timeline and the team's timeline for him match up?
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said as recently as last week, sitting down with WCVB's Maria Stephanos, that he wanted Brady to retire as a Patriot. To what lengths will he be willing to go to make that a reality? And will there be any differing opinions between ownership and the football operation? Then there's Jimmy Garoppolo. As it stands right now, his deal is up when Brady's is. Will the Patriots front office opt to wait it out, see how he matures, and then make a decision on whether he deserves to start in two seasons? If they wait that long then and then decide to stick with Brady because he's better and has multiple good years left, they may have to start from scratch with another backup. The Patriots could try to give Garoppolo an extension before that tipping point, perhaps overpaying in the short term in order to make sure that their investment in him -- a second-round pick, the practice time, the meetings -- does not go wasted. Or they could go the same way the Packers did with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers: Say goodbye to a legend and hand the keys to the quarterback-in-waiting because he's ready. This probably won't be the offseason when these decisions come to a head, but they're coming.