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Perry's Mailbag: Why a Jimmy G trade would cost less than the Wentz trade

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For yet another week, the focus of Patriots fans everywhere is on the team's offense. Quarterbacks, receivers, tight ends, you name it. Pats fans want the team to target upgrades at these positions.

But how will they do it? Will they jump in on the trade market and target a guy like Jimmy Garoppolo now? And what impact might waiting to make a move have on their ability to sign top offensive weapons?

Let's tackle these questions among many others in this week's Patriots Mailbag.

I do anticipate they'll make a move, C. The point you make about receivers wanting to know what they may be working with at quarterback is a good one. Without a viable starter, the Patriots may be forced to overpay in order to win over a free agent being courted by multiple clubs. 

That said, I don't think the Patriots will overpay for a quarterback just to give themselves a better shot with offensive weapons in free agency. I don't, for instance, see them overpaying to trade for a quarterback.

Which is why the Carson Wentz trade executed earlier this week is good news for the Patriots. Two things I can tell you NFL sources relayed following the completion of the deal: 1) The Colts might've overpaid, and 2) if Jimmy Garoppolo is dealt, it shouldn't cost that much. 

Why was it an overpay? Giving away a third and a future second (which can become a future first if Wentz plays 75 percent of the snaps or 70 percent of the snaps and Indy makes the playoffs) doesn't seem like much for a starting quarterback.


But, it was pointed out to me, Wentz still has a significant amount of guaranteed money on his contract headed to the Colts, and he's coming off a season in which he was arguably the worst starting quarterback in football. There's no guarantee Wentz regains his 2017 form -- when he was arguably a top-five quarterback -- any time soon.

The Colts also may have been bidding against themselves. If the Bears didn't make an offer for Wentz, as is the belief, Indy probably could've waited and paid less. The Eagles and Wentz had irreconcilable differences. Everyone knew a breakup was coming. Plus the Eagles had to deal him before paying him a $10 million roster bonus on March 19.

Philadelphia had almost no leverage. And yet they still acquired a possible first-round pick. That's significant.

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Why would a potential Garoppolo deal cost less? Garoppolo's injury history is a concern, as he's missed 23 games over the last three seasons, and he'll turn 30 next season. While Garoppolo has never had a season as bad as Wentz did last year, he's also never been as good as Wentz was in 2017.

There's more perceived upside with Wentz, and Wentz has more skins on the wall, so to speak. Garoppolo's contract -- which is now essentially a year-to-year deal that teams can bail on without hurting their books -- is better than Wentz's. No doubt. But there shouldn't be a first-round pick involved in any Garoppolo deal, future or otherwise, is my understanding.

Few more things here to consider: In the NFL, future picks are docked a round in terms of their trade value. So the future conditional second for Wentz is valued as a 2021 conditional third. That means, as former Packers vice president and friend of The Next Pats Podcast Andrew Brandt tweeted Friday, Wentz was acquired for essentially two third-round picks.

If Garoppolo costs less than that and becomes a viable starting quarterback? That's a price I think a lot of Patriots fans would be comfortable paying. 

Last thing, Garoppolo may not be available. That could, of course, render this entire conversation moot. Our friend Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated told Early Edition this week that the Niners will not be dealing away Garoppolo unless they can upgrade at that position.

It may require San Francisco to land Deshaun Watson, Kirk Cousins or maybe even Sam Darnold (does he qualify as an upgrade?) for Garoppolo to shake free. But if he does, the price should be reasonable. 

In case you missed it, we ran through a quick free-agency rebuild around Garoppolo earlier this week. 


I like this one, Joe. Williams is flying under the radar, though I don't think that means he'll be inexpensive. He's quietly been one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league over the last few years. You're talking about someone who could cost in the teens of millions of dollars on his next deal. Or more. 

I think there are a number of under-the-radar options for Bill Belichick this offseason. One I like is Carl Lawson of the Bengals. He's been a really productive rusher in Cincinnati and looks like he'd be a fit as an outside linebacker in Foxboro. Not sure he defends the run as well as the Patriots would like, but he'd be an impact player at a position where the team needs depth. He was the 14th-ranked edge defender in terms of Pro Football Focus' WAR (wins above replacement) metric.

We're going to do more on this next week, D. I've combed through some of the teams in the AFC that look like they're in cap trouble. Any chance they could bring back Brandin Cooks? If the Texans release him, they'd free up $12 million.

Vernon Butler in Buffalo is another interesting option. At 6-foot-4, 325 or so pounds he could give them a little muscle on the interior of their defensive line. If he's released, he'll save the Bills about $7 million.

Let's stick with the o-line part of this, Tucker. The offensive tackle class is pretty loaded this year, from everyone I've spoken to. You may be able to get a starter in the second round, which is unusual.

I could see the Patriots investing there because that's an expensive spot to try to fill with a veteran. It might also help strengthen the line overall because as good as Michael Onwenu was at tackle last season, his more natural spot is inside.

Maybe there's a right tackle option they like in the draft. North Dakota State's Dillon Radunz, Stanford's Walker Little, Texas' Sam Cosmi, Clemson's Jackson Carman and Alabama's Alex Leatherwood could all end up going in the second round and might end up providing real value quickly.

I'd start with Josh Uche. Injury prevented him from getting started quickly, but he was a consistent pass-rusher for the Patriots by the end of the season. He's a very good athlete. I think he'll be a productive player for them.

I'd also look at the tight end group. That's a hard position to pick up as a rookie. Both Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene missed time. I'm not sure they'll pan out, but there's clearly a ton of room for growth there and more time in the system should help both. 

I think if Julian Edelman wants to be back, he'll be back. The Patriots would save $3.4 million by releasing him, but they'd also be eating $2.6 in dead money. That's not a ton in the way of savings for a team that's swimming in more than $60 million in cap space. If healthy, he'd provide the team a reliable short-area option, and he'd be a valuable vet in a receiver room that could look very young without him.


Let's see what the Patriots do this offseason at the position and revisit, Vinny.

It'd make sense for Andrews to hit the free-agent market at this point and see what's out there for him. I think the Patriots would be very interested in bringing him back, particularly since it shouldn't be a break-the-bank kind of signing.

This feels a little like when the Patriots let Matthew Slater hit free agency in 2018 and re-signed him once he got a feel for the market. 

I think Stephon Gilmore would be more likely because I can't see him being willing to play for a $7 million base salary, and I can't see the Patriots being willing to give him the lucrative long-term deal he should want. 

If JC Jackson isn't here in 2021, it's because another team was willing to give the Patriots a high-end draft pick and sign him as a restricted free agent. Wouldn't be a trade, but would feel like one. And it wouldn't shock me if a contending club tried to make this happen. If you were the Chiefs, would you rather Jackson on a new contract or the No. 31 overall pick? I think that's a discussion worth having.

Quarterback always matters, Ricky. It's 2021. Different game than the one that saw Trent Dilfer win a title.

If you want to spend, spend, spend on defense and then go crazy in the draft on offense? I think that's a viable plan this year. Quarterback (in the first round), tackle (in the first couple rounds) and receiver (in the first three rounds) are relatively deep.

Mariota lost his job in Tennessee, that's true. He wasn't right physically, which is a recurring issue with him. But his numbers weren't terrible when he gave way to Ryan Tannehill. His rating was over 90.0. His touchdown-to-interception ratio was 3-to-1. His yards per attempt figure was 7.5. Those are competent.

In 2018, he was about a top-20 quarterback. He was 22nd in EPA, 16th in success rate and eighth in completion percentage over expected. Not bad for a guy who dealt with a lot of turnover on the offensive staff in Tennessee early in his career.

He's also played well against the Patriots in the past, which wouldn't hurt in Belichick's eyes. And you're right. His one game in 2020 was . . . only one game. But he looked healthy. He was dynamic as a runner and made accurate throws to all levels of the field. He's still 27. There's promise there.

I think the Ryan Fitzpatrick route could work really well on a short-term basis. He was good last year, clearly the best quarterback on the Dolphins despite losing work to Tua Tagovailoa. And all he'd cost is money. With Mariota, you'd be giving up a pick, which the Patriots may not want to do if they believe he's little more than a band-aid fix.


We could probably talk a little more about him, J. He came back to earth a bit from his eye-opening rookie year, and he's still pretty aggravating to watch at times given the amount of time he holds onto the football. But he looks like a low-end starter. I'd rather him than Jacoby Brissett, I think. But I think guys with a little more upside -- Mariota, Fitzpatrick, Garoppolo would all qualify -- make more sense.

I think they could be in the market to trade with a team that really likes Mac Jones. Washington? Chicago? Pittsburgh? New Orleans? That's if, of course, the Patriots don't want Mac Jones. I think if you trade with Washington or Chicago and want Collins? You'd be OK picking at No. 19 or 20. But if you wait for No. 24 (Pittsburgh's pick) or No. 28 (New Orleans' pick) you might be playing with fire. Might hurt to lose him to the Jets at No. 23.

This would also help the Patriots get around any issues they might be dealing with in terms of free agents taking a pass because there's uncertainty at quarterback. Trade for the receiver and he doesn't have much choice.

Thanks, Andy. Not sure there's a ton to be done with Dont'a Hightower's deal. Blake Martinez, for example, is on a cap hit of over $10 million this year. Deion Jones is on a hit of over $12 million. Both those guys are 27. Hightower, 31, is coming in at over $12 million.

So maybe there's some work there to be done but I'm not sure how significant it'd be for a team that is already loaded up on cap space.

Will check in, Johnny. Stay tuned.

For the guys who've already gotten to free agency and want that kick at the can, we'll probably have to wait. No sense in not exploring options if you're them. The lack of a concrete number on the salary cap is also gumming up the works a bit. 

Like it. He had a rough season last season and only ended up playing 123 snaps in three games. He's been an elite run defender in the past, though, and the Patriots could certainly use some beef up front.

If they can sign him and keep Lawrence Guy, maybe those are a couple of the building blocks they need to be more stout against opposing running games.

Depends on the player. Competent quarterback? Really good receiver? I think you're well on your way. Trading for Garoppolo (and having him stay healthy) and adding Allen Robinson would make them significantly better, in my opinion. You could easily build around that group and contend. But you've gotta spread the money around a little, and obviously there's no guarantee of landing either.

Get to camp. Give them opportunities. See how they play. Don't think those really young guys are in much danger of getting released early. They're all cheap enough that they should be given a shot to show what they can do.


Appreciate you, Jason! There's one on the roster right now. My bold prediction: They'll add another.

Meyers should be a lock. Not sure I'd describe the others that way. They've parted with high-end picks early before. That's not their modus operandi with first-round picks, but second-rounder Duke Dawson was gone in a relative blink.

Julian Edelman's injury history is what it is, and we addressed his contract above. Gunner Olszewski is more special-teamer than receiver so not sure how much he factors into the overall picture at that position. If they added two or three guys who can play at that position (trade, free agency, draft), it would not surprise me. They need help.

I don't hate it, Harry. Tools mean more than ever at quarterback. Kellen Mond has tools.

Good one, Dylan. I'd be looking out for cap casualty guys defensively. Could be some good deals there. Mentioned Vernon Butler above.

An ideal scenario would be if Stephon Tuitt somehow shakes free from Pittsburgh because they're in such a bad cap situation. He'd save the team about $6 million and the team would be forced to eat more than $9 million in dead money. Pipe dream. But he's a perfect fit as a 3-4 end. Leonard Williams, mentioned above, will be pricey.

Same goes for his Giants teammate Dalvin Tomlinson, who could be an option as a valuable run-stuffer.

If the Patriots get Hightower back, I think they're actually OK at off-the-ball linebacker. They have safeties like Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips who help in the box at that level. Ja'Whaun Bentley should be a sound No. 2 and Anfernee Jennings could end up an option there. Denzel Perryman of the Chargers is a free agent and seems to play the way Belichick likes -- downhill. Could see him being a low-cost add to help at that spot.

I like the idea of a bigger outside linebacker to set a hard edge (a fill-in for John Simon, who's a free agent) to help the young pass-rushers they have in Josh Uche and Chase Winovich. Jets guys Tarrell Basham (visited the Patriots before the draft in 2017 and Belichick worked him out personally) and Jordan Jenkins would make sense as inexpensive pieces. Carl Lawson would cost more.

Hard to depend on Alex Smith, as great a story as his is, as a No. 1 option. Mariota's arm looked plenty strong in his one game in 2020.

From what I've seen, feels like he's big into the Granite State these days. Maybe he's on to Mars by now. My guess would be 6 percent, Ryan.

Definitely. I think there's an argument to be made that he's the top receiver in the class. 

This is a guess, but he's someone I know is respected in Foxboro: Jonnu Smith. We'll see.

I think you've got plenty of company there, FF.


That's it for this week, friends. Thanks to all who contributed questions. Even Zo.

If you've got anything draft or free agency-related you'd like to hear us address on Next Pats, leave us a question as a review on Apple Podcasts. Guarantee we'll get to it. Guarantee it! Have a great weekend.