In Bill Belichick's mind, this was the final option.
The Patriots did all they could to try to figure out a way to keep Jimmy Garoppolo as their quarterback of the future. But when he and the team could not agree to an extension, the option that Belichick determined was best for the team was to make a trade.
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Belichick made an opening statement during his conference call on Tuesday morning, during which he addressed the deal and alluded to the myriad factors involved.
"As his career moves forward," Belichick said of Garoppolo, "we have to look to our team, both this year and beyond, and that's a consideration we have to make.
"We probably had, in my opinion, the best quarterback situation in the league the last, call it, two-and-a-half years. It's just not sustainable, given the way that things are set up. It's definitely not something we wanted to walk away from, and I felt we rode it out as long as we could. We, over a period of time, explored every option possible to try to sustain it, but just at this point felt like we had to make a decision."
Considering all the time and effort that was invested in trying to make it work, not to mention the work put into Garoppolo's development as a player, Belichick referenced multiple times that this was not a decision that was made lightly. The Patriots liked him for everything he brought them, both on and off the field.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jimmy," Belichick said. "I couldn't ask for him to give us any more than he's given us. The 49ers are getting a good player, they're getting a good person, and they're getting a great teammate, and they're getting a good quarterback. And Jimmy's getting a good coach. His career is moving forward. He's a talented individual. He's a great person to coach. I met with him weekly, and again, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him."
The moving parts involved in a decision like this were countless, Belichick explained. He wouldn't get into them in any detail, but the obvious ones would be the amount of money that Garoppolo would need to be enticed to stay and the amount of playing time available in New England. Then there's Tom Brady, Brady's level of play, and Brady's longevity to consider. There's also the fact that Garoppolo's agent, Don Yee, also represents Brady.
The impact those factors had may vary, but suffice it to say, trading Garoppolo did not happen as the result of a quick discussion.
"It's a very complex situation on multiple levels, and this is really the last window that we had, and we did what we felt was best for the team," Belichick said. "There were many things involved in this whole process, and again on a number of levels -- way too many to get into at this time. I'm definitely not going to get into any conversations that took place with the trade or with the player. But this is a decision involving Jimmy, and some form of decision that's been looming for the last couple of years."
Belichick added: "I'm sure a lot of you have questions that are fair, but again, to try to put the whole puzzle together and there's so many different points in time that would and could change the entire conversation that it's just too complicated a process and too unique to get into in depth. And so I'm not going to answer questions about the transaction and all the follow ups that would come with those, which are fair questions. It's just not possible."
Belichick did say that the Patriots would address the backup quarterback spot, but because there was nothing official on their next move, he declined to comment on the situation there.