Barring any more wheeling and dealing from Bill Belichick, now is as good of a time as any to assess what the draft pick the 49ers traded to the New England Patriots for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo ultimately turned into.
You'll need a pen and paper to follow all of it, though.
Garoppolo will start Sunday against New England for the first time since the Patriots traded him to the 49ers in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick (No. 43 overall). A series of trades later turned that pick into eight players, six of whom remain with the Patriots.
The Patriots flipped the 49ers' pick to the Detroit Lions for two more selections: A 2018 second-rounder (No. 51 overall) and fourth-rounder (No. 117 overall). They then traded the Lions' second-rounder to the Chicago Bears for a fourth-rounder in 2018 (No. 105 overall) and a second-round selection the following year (No. 56 overall). The Bears' fourth-rounder turned into two more picks in the Cleveland Browns' 2018 fourth-round (No. 114) and sixth-round (No. 178) selections. New England drafted linebacker Christian Sam with the latter pick, cutting him ahead of the 2019 season.
Later, the Patriots picked up a 2019 third-round pick from the Lions -- the same team that traded a 2018 fourth-round pick to the Pats -- for the Browns' 2018 fourth-round pick. Oh, and the Lions' original fourth-round pick? The Patriots traded that selection, as well as their own second-rounder (No. 62 overall) in 2018 to draft cornerback Duke Dawson Jr. For the sake of understanding this blog, please remember that name.
The Bears traded with the Patriots again in 2019, arguably at Chicago's own peril. New England traded what was Detroit's 2019 third-rounder (No. 73 overall) to Chicago in exchange for the Bears' 2019 third-round pick (No. 87 overall), a 2019 fifth-rounder (No. 162 overall) and a fourth-round pick in 2020. The Patriots then flipped what was the Bears' second-round pick (No. 56 overall) and their own fourth-round pick (No. 101 overall) to the Los Angeles Rams for their second-round selection (No. 45 overall), which New England used to select cornerback Joejuan Williams. In the next round, Patriots also drafted running back Damien Harris with the No. 87 overall pick.
The Patriots then made another trade with the Rams in 2019, flipping their own third-round pick (No. 97 overall) and the Bears' fifth-round selection (No. 162) to LA for the No. 101 and No. 133 picks. New England drafted offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste with the former pick and quarterback Jarrett Stidham with the latter, both of whom were taken in the fourth round.
Remember Dawson Jr.? The Patriots traded him (and a 2020 seventh-round pick) to the Denver Broncos for a 2020 sixth-round pick. In this year's draft, New England traded Chicago's 2020 fourth-rounder (No. 125 overall) and its own fourth-round pick (No. 129 overall) to the New York Jets -- of all teams that should know better than to deal with Belichick -- for a third-round pick (No. 101 overall). The Patriots drafted tight end Dalton Keene with the latter selection and offensive tackle Justin Herron with the former.
New England, in other words, has made 12 trades using picks or players connected to the oroginal Garoppolo trade. The six who remain with the Patriots are:
- CB Joejuan Williams
- RB Damien Harris
- OT Yodny Cajuste
- QB Jarrett Stidham
- TE Dalton Keene
- OT Justin Herron
Belichick certainly maximized his draft capital from one trade with the 49ers, but are the Patriots better off? They seem no closer to finding Tom Brady's long-term successor after trading Garoppolo, who, despite the persistent questions around his 49ers future, Belichick reportedly was ready to replace Brady with prior to the trade. Williams, Harris and Herron have carved out roles, but the jury remains out on Cajuste, Stidham and Keene.
Turning one pick into six players two years later is a testament to Belichick's ability as a general manager and the value quarterbacks carry in the modern NFL. All six players could yet turn into major contributors, but having a sure thing at QB -- even one of Garoppolo's much-debated quality -- is hard to replace.