BOSTON — Two quarterbacks are front-and-center in New England’s consciousness right now: Jimmy Garoppolo, the former Patriot who’s playing in Super Bowl 54 Sunday, and Tom Brady, whose legendary, 20-year reign as Patriots quarterback may or may not be coming to an end.
Somewhere sprinkled into the story of Garoppolo’s rise in San Fran and Brady’s possible end of days is Jacoby Brissett, the only quarterback to work alongside both of them.
I ran into Brissett at Logan Airport on Sunday. He’d been celebrating Duron Harmon’s birthday with his former teammates. I was on my way to Miami for the week of Super Bowl coverage.
We had a great talk at Gate A3 and we’ll feature the whole conversation on Tom Curran’s Patriots Talk Podcast this week. He talked Jimmy G., Brady’s role as mentor and menace and the hard-to-grasp possibility that Brady may not play for the Patriots anymore.
We also talked about the trade that sent him to the Colts where he’s been the starter the past two seasons.
Drafted in the third round in 2016, Brissett actually played more than Garoppolo during Brady’s four-game suspension at the start of the 2016 season. Garoppolo didn’t make it through six quarters; Brissett played two and a half games.
He was, it seemed, the backup plan at backup quarterback if the Patriots couldn’t convince Garoppolo to stay when his contract expired after the 2017 season.
But on September 2, 2017, the Patriots traded Brissett after the final preseason game to the Colts in exchange for Phillip Dorsett. I asked what the conversation was like when the team let him know.
“(The conversation) was with Bill (Belichick),” he explained. “Julian (Edelman) just got hurt against Detroit so Bill’s whole thing was we needed a punt returner/receiver so they made the trade for Phillip. And that was pretty much it. He said he respected me, respected my work ethic and leadership and blah, blah, blah, but it was just ... I’d never experienced being traded so it was kind of shocking. But then you just go wherever you gotta go. You gotta go to work.”
I asked Brissett if what happened in Indy this year with the unexpected retirement of Andrew Luck was more jarring.
“The trading was a little more shocking,” Brissett corrected. “A trade is more, ‘What?!’ You just don’t understand. When someone retires, you understand. You figure that out.
“But when you’re traded and don’t know you’re about to get traded? It just hit me off guard,” he said. “I had played well against the Giants the day before and it was, like, ‘What?!’ But that’s the NFL. You talk to anybody and the players who’ve been traded say, ‘Yeah, that’s about right.’ It comes with the territory of the NFL.”
It’s worked out for all three.
Brissett, had he stayed in New England, likely would have watched Brady play the entirety of the 2018 and 2019 seasons without getting off the bench. Now he’d be a free agent with his rookie contract expiring. The Patriots would either be in the midst of convincing him to stay or letting him go — but either way, Brissett wouldn’t have made the same money in New England as he has in Indy. Or had the same experience.
After Luck retired, Brissett negotiated a two-year, $30 million deal for himself that expires after the 2020 season. He’s made 30 starts in Indy and — at 27 — has thrown 31 touchdowns and 13 picks. Garoppolo, obviously, has flourished in San Fran. And Brady only cemented his status as the greatest quarterback of all-time after the Brissett trade.
Funny how things have a way of working themselves out.