The Patriots picked Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round of the NFL Draft, and they still have Tom Brady, of course. But that doesn’t mean Ryan Mallett is completely out of the picture in 2014.
Bill Belichick shot down a question about trading Mallett during or after the draft during the coach’s appearance Thursday night on Sirius XM NFL Radio.
The Patriots reportedly were going to trade Mallett to the Houston Texans and new head coach Bill O’Brien, who coached Mallett in 2011 with the Patriots.
“That’s not really something that we’re that interested in,” Belichick said. “Ryan’s done a good job for us. Fortunately for us, but unfortunately for him, he hasn’t really had any playing time in the last three years. But he’s improved tremendously as a quarterback and as a football player, and we’ve got a lot of confidence in him.”
The Patriots have carried three quarterbacks several times under Belichick, and it makes sense to keep Mallett this year as Brady’s backup to allow Garoppolo a year to adjust from Eastern Illinois to the NFL.
“We feel like we have a good quarterback situation,” Belichick said. “That’s not a good position to not feel good about. We feel very good about the players we have at that spot.”
But Belichick acknowledged that Mallett is entering a contract year, and that the team thought highly of Garoppolo.
“At the same time, he’s in the last year of a contract, and Jimmy was again a player that we had a high grade on,” Belichick said. “And I think at that position you can’t afford to pass up a player you think has that kind of value.”
Belichick also had a positive outlook on the recovery of first-round pick Dominique Easley, who is coming back from a torn ACL. The defensive lineman tore both of his ACLs during his four-year career at Florida.
“We’re confident that he’ll be able to return from the injury like almost everybody who’s had an ACL has,” Belichick said. “I don’t think it’s the type of injury that isn’t pretty common in our league. He’s working hard to rehab, and hopefully he’ll be OK.”
Belichick said the Patriots got “good value” with Easley at the 29th pick.
“He’s been a productive player for Florida since his freshman year,” Belichick said. “He can be a very disruptive player and impact player, and I think our board reflected that.”
Belichick wasn’t quite as expansive when asked about free agent signees Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, two big, physical cornerbacks who should greatly improve the Patriots’ defense. Belichick has been understated about the potential impact of each player since they signed with the team in March.
“They’re both going to work hard in the offseason,” Belichick said. “Looking forward to seeing them compete with other players we have at the position, and we’ll see how it goes.”Ben Volin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin