The airwaves are still ablaze with arguments of whether the New England Patriots should have kept Jimmy Garoppolo.
With his contract running out, it was inevitable that the showdown would come and everyone football related wondered how it was going to work. Would they tag Garoppolo? Would Robert Kraft step in and choose Tom Brady over the future? Would Bill Belichick trade Brady to keep Garoppolo?
Then, in the middle of last season, the Patriots traded Garoppolo, Brady stayed and now there is no replacement for the Patriots. Rumors were that perhaps Kraft used his executive privilege and ordered the Garoppolo trade while keeping Brady, but at what cost?
Who decided? In the end, it doesn’t even matter because the Patriots made a bad decision. Brady could have cemented his eternal brand and character by analyzing the situation and stepping up to make everyone come out a winner, especially himself.
The 40-year-old has maybe two or three years left while the team was grooming the assumed successor, so what if he had stepped up and said, “I am a true New England Patriot and love this franchise, so I am going to do what is right for the future of the New England Patriots.”
His love for the game would have never been called into question and he would have been hailed as a hero riding off into the sunset handing it off to a successor already popular with fans.
Did Brady go above Belichick to Kraft to stress that he can indeed go longer for the best interest of the team?
The reason is vague and the world outside the brass of one of the sport’s most dominant franchises may never know. But one thing is indeed for certain and that is that it’s not a good look for the five-time Super Bowl champion.
Garoppolo was a proven commodity, a guy who could clearly perform well with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and was extremely coachable. Even as the guy who took over during Brady’s suspension, he was in command of the offense and a leader that made the future of the organization seem so bright.
Fast forward to now, the future after Brady is as bleak as ever with Brian Hoyer as the backup and former LSU quarterback Danny Etling as the third-string quarterback who has been struggling.
The organization would have benefited if Brady also were to say ‘I feel I have a few more years left in the tank I am going to request a trade from Mr. Kraft. The organization has invested an awful lot into the development of Garoppolo. I have worked with him and can honestly say he is the future of this team. I seem to have broken the mold as to how the natural progression of quarterbacks works. I am still playing at a high level, but it would be wrong for this franchise to lose Garoppolo.
From a financial standpoint, it would make all the difference as tagging Garoppolo would have made for a salary cap nightmare with over $20 million going to the backup quarterback.
Brady comes out on top by doing what is unpopular at the moment but so right for the long haul, Belichick comes out on top by not having to trade the star quarterback when he claims to still have a couple of years left. Kraft also comes out a winner by having an incredibly talented quarterback with a lot of promise in Garoppolo for the next 15 years but what’s most important is that the fans come out on top knowing the New England Patriots will not miss a beat with the backup and the winning “Patriot Way” will continue.
It would have been way easier if Brady’s talent faded away in the normal NFL cycle, but it did not and now the Patriots are stuck with a win-now mentality and not having any plan to maintain a successful path. If Brady pointed all of this out and said ‘after giving this an awful lot of thought, this is the only way. It’s the right way, and I feel very good about playing a role in the future success of the New England Patriots by helping to keep Garoppolo here and to walk away from the game.’ This selfless act would have blown away everyone.
Brady would have been the poster boy for doing the right thing, for doing something no one would ever think of doing. Everyone would always use Brady as an example in similar situations and his legacy would extend far beyond his playing abilities all the way to having one of the greatest quality of character in the history of sports.
But after all, this is just a theory of what could have been.
Co-written by Tom Gross Jr.