Let's start here: The Patriots want to win right now. A traditional "rebuild?" Ain't for them.
Still, grabbing a young developmental quarterback in the draft -- and early -- should be very much in play for them.
Let's explain, and reiterate: The Patriots want to win right now.
Not only is contending for titles part of the franchise's stated credo as they look for new players this time of year -- they want to build a team that "consistently competes for championships" -- but what they did in free agency was enough to tell the world that this is not an incredibly patient club when it comes to winning and losing.
With that in mind, they have one glaring need that must be addressed to get to where they want to go in 2021. The question is, on the eve of the draft, will New England's answer at quarterback for next season be found in this year's rookie class?
Maybe not. Justin Fields and Trey Lance -- seemingly the two most likely passers to fall toward the middle of the first round -- would both benefit greatly from some seasoning, per league evaluators.
But thanks to Niners coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch, the answer for the Patriots may not have to be in this year's draft. At some point in the near future, Jimmy Garoppolo could very well parachute in and solve the team's greatest need.
Good. Great. Grand. All's well in Josh McDaniels' quarterback room then, yeah?
Not necessarily. Garoppolo will be 30 this year. He's missed about half the games he was supposed to have started. His production level as the trigger man for a quarterback-friendly offense loaded with talent, when healthy enough to play, has been underwhelming. More placeholder than franchise cornerstone, seemingly.
That's why Garoppolo's arrival, if it happens, shouldn't shut the door on Bill Belichick investing an early draft pick in a long-term quarterback fix.
In fact, if Garoppolo is acquired, it could actually help encourage Belichick to make a move on one of the top-five quarterbacks in this year's draft.
Consider how difficult it might have been for Belichick to ask a young player like Fields or Lance to lead a team with winning aspirations right away. But with Garoppolo, the Patriots would have their human safety net.
The vet could take the reins and help them compete right away. Meanwhile, Fields or Lance could take a backseat and develop behind the scenes on a more forgiving timeline. Pressure's off.
Maybe it'd take a year before The Next Guy was ready. Maybe the Patriots would be comfortable putting The Next Guy on the original Garoppolo Plan, having the youngster sit for two full seasons or more.
Either way, taking a first-round passer would provide the Patriots insurance for an injury-prone veteran. More importantly, it would provide them long-term hope at a position that almost universally requires a significant investment -- in draft capital or real capital -- for the league's most successful teams.
Yes, dumping resources into a developmental quarterback would mean taking resources away from building around Garoppolo; it could conceivably take a second-round pick or a future first (or more) to move up into range to draft Fields or Lance.
But after their offseason spending spree, the Patriots roster isn't rife with holes that need filling immediately. If they get the quarterback spot figured out, they could find themselves playing well into January.
And this offseason they have the rare opportunity to get the quarterback spot figured out not only for the here-and-now but for the future as well.
Take advantage of the Niners pushing Garoppolo out the door and scoop him up. Take advantage of a talented quarterback class and a higher-than-usual slot in the draft and scoop one up.
There's an easy argument to be made that grabbing a quarterback on Thursday night -- the first first-round quarterback taken by Belichick in his career as a head coach -- is what would be best for the football team.
Even with Garoppolo in the fold. Especially with Garoppolo in the fold.