Better to trade Garoppolo now for quarters on the half-dollar than to watch him leave for less. And also: If Brady gets hurt down the stretch, the Patriots’ season was going to be over no matter what — whether it was Garoppolo filling in for him had they not traded him or whomever the Patriots sign as Brady’s backup (perhaps the recently released Brian Hoyer).
There likely was some regret for not getting more in return, and sources told us last spring that the Browns’ trade offer for Garoppolo started with the No. 33 overall pick and included more. Had the Patriots pushed for a greater return before the 2017 NFL draft, they likely could have gotten it.
But that was prior to Julian Edelman, Dont’a Hightower and other injuries happening, and we know now that Belichick clearly didn’t value Jacoby Brissett all that highly as a realistic option as Brady’s backup. Belichick traded Brissett to the Indianapolis Colts for Phillip Dorsett, who has one catch since Week 2.
It was a stunning trade, but it’s the kind of move Belichick has become famous for. It also assures Patriots Nation won't realize its greatest fear, quietly welling up for years under the surface: the day Belichick would let Brady go. That appears to be something we’ll never see, other than perhaps the two of them walking off into the sunset. If they do after having won another Super Bowl with Brady at the helm, the Garoppolo trade will be viewed as the only move they could have made given the circumstances they faced.