In an effort to find out what the Patriots have in much-ballyhooed No. 2 quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, Mike Giardi of CSNNE.com spoke with three scouts (two AFC, one NFC), an ex-Pats player and an NFC front office executive. The former Patriot offered effusive praise of the 25-year-old Garoppolo, saying of Tom Brady‘s backup: “I played against him every day in practice. He’s all that. He can make all the throws. He can process all the information. He is a gamer. He can slow it down. He can spin it. I’m going tell you this, if he had gotten traded to Cleveland, they’re a borderline playoff team. I really believe that.”
One of the AFC scouts was similarly kind to Garoppolo in his assessment, noting: “I absolutely loved the kid coming out of college. When we interviewed him, [it was obvious] he’s got those qualities you want in a QB, as a leader. I begged our guys to take him at the end of the first round. That’s how good I thought he was then. He’s a hell of a lot better now.” Garoppolo ended up going in the second round of the 2014 draft, and though he hasn’t played much since, the scout believes he’s a franchise QB in waiting and contends that it’s “genius” that the Patriots have refused to trade him.
With Brady showing no signs of slowing down even as he enters his age-40 campaign, Garoppolo probably won’t see the much field this year. Garoppolo’s contract will expire thereafter, which will make his situation an extremely compelling one to watch when the Patriots’ season concludes in either January or February. The Pats probably aren’t going to let the impending free agent leave, as head coach Bill Belichick “thinks he’s got the next great one,” according to the other AFC scout.
More from around the NFL:
- In addition to detailing Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell‘s long-term asking price Wednesday on NFL Network, former teammate Ike Taylor said there’s a “strong possibility” Bell will hold out of training camp, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Given that Bell hasn’t signed his $12.1MM tender as the Steelers’ franchise player, he’s under no obligation to report and wouldn’t face any punishment by staying away. Bell could therefore take a cue from Chiefs safety Eric Berry, who was unhappy with his franchise designation last year and didn’t show up until the end of August.
- Taylor noted Wednesday that Bell wants money that reflects his production as both a superstar runner and a No. 2 receiver. Bell confirmed as much Thursday, telling Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that he’s seeking a contract well in excess of Bills RB LeSean McCoy‘s league-high amount. “I make plays in the passing game, blocking, doing everything,” said Bell. “I’m arguably the top running back in the NFL and the No. 2 receiver on the Steelers, even though I play running back. Their career receiving total vs. mine, they don’t have more yards than me.” Prior to this past Monday’s deadline to sign franchise players to long-term deals, the Steelers did attempt to ink Bell to a deal worth more than McCoy’s five-year, $40MM-plus pact. Their five-year, $60MM proposal didn’t get it done, though.
- Cowboys third-round pick Jourdan Lewis‘ career is off to an inauspicious start. Lewis, the 92nd overall selection, will go to trial in Michigan next week for a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, reports Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today. That will keep Lewis out for the early portion of training camp, for which Cowboys rookies reported on Wednesday. Lewis’ charge stems from a March altercation with his live-in girlfriend, who told police that he put his “his hands around her neck.” The player pleaded not guilty, but he was unable to reach a settlement with prosecutors at a pre-trial hearing on Thursday, according to Jones.
- Tony Romo continues to vacillate between “done” and “very likely done.” The retired quarterback and current CBS analyst declared last week that he’s through playing football, but now he seems to be leaving the door open ever so slightly for a return. As a guest Thursday on the Ben & Skin show on 105.3 The Fan, Romo said he’s “99.9 percent done” (Twitter link via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News). The 37-year-old made a similar remark in April, after which a report surfaced stating that teams expect him to make a comeback. While Romo’s career probably is over, a significant preseason injury to a team’s starting QB could change the calculus. It did last summer for Romo, then with the Cowboys, as he broke a bone in his back in August and was unable to reclaim his starting job from super rookie Dak Prescott when he returned midway through the season.
Zach Links contributed to this post.