In the end, the Patriots chose old over new.
The championship experience of Tom Brady and the chance to win one, two or maybe even three more Super Bowls during Brady's everlasting playing career won out over any championship potential of Jimmy Garoppolo.
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For the second straight season at the NFL trade deadline, the Patriots traded away a top young talent for a future draft pick. Last year it was linebacker Jamie Collins, and this year it was Garoppolo.
Belichick was quite forthcoming for once while discussing Garoppolo on Tuesday. It truly felt like at one point in the past few months the Patriots head coach truly thought that the man they picked in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft could have been Brady's successor. But with Brady still playing so well at age 40 and with the Pats needing to pay Garoppolo his market value next year, it would have made little financial sense for the team to have $40 million tied up at one position. One QB had to go, and the Patriots signaled that they're ready to ride it out with the five-time Super Bowl-winning Brady.
"It's a very complex situation on multiple levels," Belichick said. "This is really the last window that we had and we did what we felt was best for the team. There were many things involved in this whole process on a number of levels.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jimmy," he continued. "I couldn't ask for him to give any more than what he's given us. The Niners 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 great coach [in 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan]."
Make no mistake, the Garoppolo trade is a risky one for the Patriots, both short-term and long-term. They still don't have a backup quarterback for the 40-year-old Brady, although the leading candidates are two former 49ers QBs in Brian Hoyer and Colin Kaepernick. The Pats are expected to sign one or the other by the end of this week.
Longterm, if Brady were to sustain a career ending injury in the next year or so, Belichick would have egg on his face - especially if Garoppolo turns out to be good or great in San Francisco.
The good news for Patriots fans is that the higher-ups in the Patriots organization think their championship window can still be open with Brady for the next three, four or five years. That's what they said with this move.
The bad news is that the Patriots did absolutely nothing at the deadline to make themselves better this year. And anyone who's watched the Pats this season knows that this is a team that needs help if it is to compete for a Super Bowl this winter.