Patriots

Making sense of the Jimmy Garoppolo stunner

Making sense of the Jimmy Garoppolo stunner

Pried your jaw off the floor? Returned your eyeballs to their sockets? Let's get to the questions that are flying around now that the Patriots have sent Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers.

Why now?

The presumption has been that the Patriots would franchise Garoppolo at the end of the season, then deal him. Even though the $24 million franchise cost for a quarterback was prohibitive, the Patriots would employ some imaginative accounting and find a way to fit Garoppolo under the cap until they could move him. But the way it was shaping up, the franchise/trade option would have tied the Patriots hands in free agency. Multiple restructures and/or releases were going to be necessary and it would have put the Patriots behind in free-agent pursuit because Garoppolo would still be on the books.

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What about the bounty they could have had?

A second-round pick? That's all? A player who some forecasted could be worth two first-round picks or more only pulls a second-round pick in exchange for his services? That feels like a major sacrifice by the Patriots. And what did they get in exchange? If there truly were multiple first-round picks on the table for Garoppolo in April and now, six months later, all they got from him was a few preseason appearances and eight games of back up duty, that's not what anyone would be able to call value. Jacoby Brissett could have just as easily done what Garoppolo has been doing since the beginning of September. I could've done what Garoppolo's been doing. This to me is what is most confusing. The franchise that has so often hoarded draft picks and spoken about value just left a gorgeous asset on their front lawn with a "Make an Offer" sign on the windshield. 

What does it mean for Brady?

With Jimmy G. there will be no showdown at noon for the starting quarterback position. All the time we spent, all the air we blew, every keystroke on every article and email that presaged Tom Brady's famous final scene is now for naught. Brady wins. He is signed through 2019 at which point he'll be 42 years old. The Patriots almost certainly won't move on from him before then (I've been wrong before) and he will then have the luxury of deciding if he wants to continue past his 20th NFL season. At that point, Rob Gronkowski's and Julian Edelman's contracts will also be up. It has always seemed a likely time for a dismount.

What did we learn? 

For more than a year the Patriots have been considering the economic wisdom of franchising Garoppolo and keeping Brady. That was definitely on the table. But while there were conversations with Cleveland that were reported around the draft, it's reasonable now to doubt that what they were offering was as generous as people believed. Or if it was as concrete. This was the last chance the Patriots had to trade Garoppolo before they had to either franchise him or lose him. After 4 PM Tuesday, he was walking for nothing or costing them $24 million. We all know how shrewd Bill Belichick is. Did he just get exponentially dumber over the last six months? Doubtful. There will be a lot of reasonable puzzling as to whether the Patriots got enough for Jimmy. In trade compensation, probably not. All they got was what they gave up. The second round pick. But when you think of what he represented: The ghost of Brady's football future - Younger, faster, more handsome. His presence kicked Brady into overdrive. And an unimaginable three-season stretch which included two Super Bowl wins ensued. In some ways, Jimmy G. was one of the most important Patriots of the Bellichick era.

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Patriots Talk Podcast: Training camp position battles to watch

Patriots Talk Podcast: Training camp position battles to watch

Finally, the New England Patriots are back on the field at Gillette Stadium.

The new-look Pats had their first practice of 2020 on Wednesday, which means training camp position battles are officially underway. The obvious position battle in camp will be at the quarterback position between Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham, but there are many more intriguing battles to keep an eye on.

In a brand new Patriots Talk Podcast, Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry break down the positions where these battles will take place.

Patriots Talk Podcast - Training Camp Preview: Burning Questions. Bold Predictions | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

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Perry named the Patriots' three most notable position battles, starting with the QB position. While it's technically a battle between Newton and Stidham, some believe it's a foregone conclusion Newton will be the Week 1 starter.

"You have the quarterback spot with Cam vs. Stidham. Let's move past that, we've talked enough about that, we both think Cam is going to win the job. Not a real battle, per se," Perry said.

"Let's go back to the outside linebackers. This is a four-way cage match between Chase Winovich, Anfernee Jennings, Shilique Calhoun, and Brandon Copeland. My guy is going to be Anfernee Jennings, but I do think that's a battle. Whatever that opposite John Simon edge spot is called, somebody's got to fill it.

"Number three, let's talk special teams ... who is your returner? Is it Kyle Dugger, your first draft pick in this year's draft? Is it J.J. Taylor? Fun as hell to watch, would be fun as hell to watch in the kicking game. Or is it last year's guy, Gunner [Olszewski]? They don't want to give it to Julian Edelman, we know that, so one of those three guys I think will win it."

For Curran, it's a newly-added safety who will have his attention in camp.

"I'm going to head over to the secondary for the position battle that I'm interested to watch," Curran said. "I have a good feeling of who's going to shine there and it's my defensive dark horse for this camp and this season -- it's going to be Adrian Phillips at the safety spot holding off a young Kyle Dugger.

"I think Adrian Phillips is going to be an absolute eye-opener at the safety position ... Adrian Phillips is a talented player, he's closer to [Patrick] Chung than he is Devin McCourty. He's going to be a really good player for the Patriots this year. But I'm going to be real interested to see how Dugger competes ... he's an athletic unicorn."

Curran and Perry also discuss the burning questions surrounding the Patriots, why the Pats should explore using the triple option, bold predictions for the 2020 season, and much more.

Check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or on YouTube.

Patriots' 2020 draft pick Dustin Woodard retires before rookie season

Patriots' 2020 draft pick Dustin Woodard retires before rookie season

One of the New England Patriots' 2020 draft picks has decided to retire before his rookie season began.

The team announced Thursday it has placed offensive lineman Dustin Woodard on the reserve/retired list.

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Woodard, who played college football at the University of Memphis, was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round (230th overall) of April's draft. The 22-year-old center/guard was one of three offensive linemen taken by the Patriots in the 2020 draft, along with guard Michael Onwenu (sixth round) and tackle Justin Herron (sixth round).

Why is Woodard retiring? ESPN's Mike Reiss reported additional details:

The Patriots signed center Tyler Gauthier on Wednesday in a move that adds some depth to the position following Woodard's retirement. Woodard had a chance to make the roster as the backup center behind starter David Andrews.