The New England Patriots went on a spending spree to open free agency. While the additions of Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Matthew Judon, Nelson Agholor and others have filled many holes on the Patriots' roster, New England still has a question mark at quarterback.
Bill Belichick opted to re-sign Cam Newton to an affordable contract that will pay the quarterback just under $7 million if he starts every game. But the Patriots also have their eyes on bringing back Jimmy Garoppolo to run the show. Unfortunately for the Patriots, the 49ers have been unwilling to discuss a trade to this point, Boston Sports Journal's and longtime Patriots reporter Greg Bedard reported on the latest episode of the "Greg Bedard Patriots Podcast."
“Jimmy Garoppolo has always been plan A for this team.” Bedard said. “They’ve tried to get him. They have tried to engage with the 49ers. The 49ers will not engage, at least to this point, without having something better or their own sort of plan. The words that I was told was the 49ers are screwing around. They’re not really engaging.”
49ers general manager John Lynch has said he expects Garoppolo to be their starting quarterback in 2021 if he's healthy, and that the 49ers would focus on bringing in a capable backup to make sure the season isn't lost if Garoppolo has to once again miss time. The 49ers reportedly were interested in both Andy Dalton and Mitchell Trubisky, but both signed elsewhere as Dalton went to Chicago and Trubisky landed in Buffalo. The 49ers reportedly will host Joe Flacco on a visit, which should serve as a short-term vote of confidence that Garoppolo is indeed the guy for 2021.
After checking almost every box early in free agency, the 49ers now have given themselves the freedom to select a quarterback early in the 2021 NFL Draft if Kyle Shanahan sees a prospect he believes can run his system at peak efficiency. While it likely would cost too much for the 49ers to jump up to draft Zach Wilson or Justin Fields, the 49ers could look at Trey Lance or Mac Jones, both of whom could be available in the No. 9-12 range. The 49ers own the No. 12 pick in the draft.
The 49ers have been connected to a number of quarterbacks this offseason. They reportedly were interested in Matthew Stafford but never made a formal offer before the Detroit Lions shipped the veteran signal-caller to the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers also remain a potential trade destination for Deshaun Watson, but the Houston Texans have yet to engage in trade discussions and Watson now finds himself being named in seven separate civil lawsuits for sexual assault which the NFL is investigating.
As for the Patriots, they likely will head into 2021 with Newton and either another veteran or a rookie battling for the starting job while Garoppolo takes snaps in Santa Clara.
But if the 49ers do find a better long-term option either in the draft or via trade, Garoppolo could be headed back to 1 Patriot Place.