New England Patriots Rumors & News

Bill Belichick Sees Jimmy Garoppolo As Franchise QB

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.”

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.

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.

Patriots Cut Chase Farris

  • The Patriots cut offensive lineman Chase Farris, opening up a spot on their 90-man roster, tweets Doug Kyed of NESN. Farris went undrafted out of Ohio State last year and then signed with the Lions, who cut him prior to Week 1. He has been in and out of the New England organization on multiple occasions since then.

Examining Patriots' Linebackers

Opinion: Cooks Is Top AFC East Newcomer

  • It cannot be debated that Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks is the best player to join the AFC East this offseason, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com writes. It’s hard to argue – Cooks cost the Pats a first-round pick, but he is among the league’s very best wide receivers and gives Tom Brady the kind of threat at WR that he has not had since Randy Moss. Cooks won’t turn 24 until September and he also has a sweetheart of a contract. This year, he’ll make just $1.56MM. In 2018, the Pats have him on his one-year, $8.459MM fifth-year option.

Patriots Notes: Harris, Hawkins

  • New Patriots linebacker David Harris will earn a base salary of $1MM in 2017, reports Miguel Benzan of PatsFans.com (hat tip: Reiss). He can also bring in $500K in per-game roster bonuses, plus another $750K via incentives. In 2018, Harris is scheduled to make a $1.75MM base salary, plus $500K in per-game roster bonuses, and $1.05MM via incentives. As previously reported, Harris also received a signing bonus of $1.25MM.
  • Given that the Patriots are only likely to retain six wide receivers on their initial roster, veteran Andrew Hawkins doesn’t seem likely to make the squad, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com details. Hawkins signed a one-year, minimum salary benefit deal with New England over the offseason, so the club will experience a minimal dead money hit if it cuts ties. Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell, and special-teamer Matthew Slater are Patriots roster locks, per Reiss, so there’s no room for Hawkins barring an injury.
  • New Patriots linebacker David Harris will earn a base salary of $1MM in 2017, reports Miguel Benzan of PatsFans.com (hat tip: Reiss). He can also bring in $500K in per-game roster bonuses, plus another $750K via incentives. In 2018, Harris is scheduled to make a $1.75MM base salary, plus $500K in per-game roster bonuses, and $1.05MM via incentives. As previously reported, Harris also received a signing bonus of $1.25MM.

Patriots' No. 3 TE Spot Up For Grabs

  • As Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes, the Patriots don’t have many major position battles, but one to keep an eye on is at backup tight end. Of course, Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen are entrenched in the top spots, but given Gronk’s health issues, the No. 3 TE could end up playing a significant role. As it currently stands, Matt Lengel and James O’Shaughnessy will compete with UDFAs Jacob Hollister and Sam Cotton for the job.

Opinion: Big Opportunity For Gillislee

Poll: Which 2016 Division Winners Will Miss Playoffs?

A year ago at this time, the Broncos, Panthers and Cardinals were popular picks to rank among the NFL’s elite teams in 2016. Denver was the reigning Super Bowl champion, after all, while Carolina was coming off a 15-1, conference-winning campaign and Arizona was second to the Panthers in the NFC. Each of those teams won their divisions two years ago, and not only were they unable to repeat that feat in 2016, but all three watched the playoffs from home last winter. They were among a whopping six division-winning clubs from 2015 that failed to qualify for the playoffs last season, joining the Bengals, Redskins and Vikings.

Tom Brady

If the volatility from 2015 to ’16 is any indication, some of the league’s eight division champions from last year are in trouble as the upcoming season approaches. Once again, both Super Bowl representatives won their divisions in 2016, with the Patriots coasting in the AFC East and the Falcons knocking the Panthers from the NFC South throne. Like the Pats and the Falcons, the Chiefs, Steelers, Texans, Cowboys, Seahawks and Packers are aiming to repeat atop their divisions this season.

Of those teams, the Patriots look as though they’re in the best position to secure their division again. The Bill Belichick– and Tom Brady-led outfit has ruled the AFC East eight consecutive times, and during New England’s latest Lombardi Trophy-winning season, the club was a 14-2 juggernaut that easily led the league in point differential. While Brady’s a year older, set to enter his age-40 season, he hasn’t shown any signs of mortality, and even if he suffers an injury or falls off dramatically in 2017, the Patriots may have a starting-caliber quarterback behind him in Jimmy Garoppolo. Of course, there’s also plenty of talent on hand elsewhere on the Pats’ roster, including new additions in wide receiver Brandin Cooks, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, defensive lineman Kony Ealy, linebacker David Harris, tight end Dwayne Allen and running back Mike Gillislee.

There might not be any shoo-ins to repeat among the league’s seven other returning division winners, but it’s hard to bet against clubs with franchise quarterbacks. In the cases of the Falcons (Matt Ryan), Packers (Aaron Rodgers), Seahawks (Russell Wilson) and Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger), there’s little reason to expect anything other than excellence from under center, which makes potential playoff berths more realistic for each. The Cowboys also seem to have an outstanding signal-caller in sophomore Dak Prescott, who was so stunningly great as a fourth-round rookie that he took Tony Romo‘s job and essentially forced the four-time Pro Bowler into retirement.

Kansas City (Alex Smith) and Houston (Tom Savage) aren’t as well off under center, though the Chiefs have done plenty of winning in the regular season since turning to Smith in 2013. But if he and the untested Savage disappoint this year, they have first-rounders behind them in Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, respectively. Poor performances or injuries could force either Mahomes or Watson into action, perhaps paving the way for the emergence of a Prescott-like rookie this year in KC or Houston and making another postseason appearance more likely.

While some of these teams look to be in enviable shape at QB, the game’s most important position, things could still go awry. The Panthers had the reigning MVP 12 months ago in Cam Newton, but his play took massive steps backward, as did the team’s, en route to a 6-10 season and a last-place NFC South finish. The likelihood is that some of last year’s division winners will end up in similar situations in 2017, going from playoff teams to bitter disappointments overnight.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Brady Responds To Concussion Question

Tom Brady finally addressed his wife’s comments about his possible undisclosed concussions, doing so in an interview on ESPN’s “E:60.” Gisele Bundchen said her 39-year-old husband suffered a concussion last season and multiple others the Patriots didn’t disclose in previous years. Brady did not deny this during his interview but was vague in his response.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio provided a translation from this answer that Brady has sustained concussions that were not reported. Nothing has come out yet regarding the Patriots’ knowledge of these concussions, so the team would not be in a position to be punished for concealing such injuries. Brady’s agent, Don Yee, said the quarterback wasn’t diagnosed with a concussion during the 2016 season. This doesn’t deny that he suffered one, however. The NFL in May said there was no record of Brady suffering a concussion last season.

  • Brady continued to insist he wants to play until he’s in his mid-40s. He added a “health-permitting”-type caveat when the subject was broached during his latest interview. “My mid-40s, I’ve always said, so naturally that’s 45, but football is a contact sport,” Brady said. “I don’t think you can take anything for granted in football, things happen. It’s just part of the sport. I would love to be able to continue playing at that level. As long as I keep playing well and committed to it, I’ll keep doing it. I know I got a lot left in me.” Brady, who will turn 40 next month, is signed through the 2019 season. The Patriots will have a big decision to make regarding how they approach Jimmy Garoppolo‘s situation come 2018, and Brady’s 2017 performance figures to have a major say in they handle the quandary.

Reiss: 2017 Belichick's Second-Best Offseason

  • A year featuring the arrivals of Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore places this year in the running for greatest Bill Belichick offseason with the Patriots, Reiss writes. He rates this one as Belichick’s second-best behind only 2001 — when the likes of Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel, Roman Phifer, David Patten and others arrived — in his 18 offseasons in New England.