The drafting of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo should not be taken as a sign of wavering in the Patriots’ commitment to Tom Brady, team owner Robert Kraft said Thursday.
In fact, Kraft would be happy if Garoppolo’s only job is to watch Brady from the sidelines.
“I hope he doesn’t get a chance to start for a long, long time,” Kraft told the NFL Network.
The Patriots owner said drafting Garoppolo was about creating “disaster insurance” behind Brady on the depth chart. The way Brady assumed the Patriots’ starting job - by replacing (and then outplaying) an injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001 - only underscored the importance of having quality depth behind Brady, Kraft said.
“If we didn’t have someone like Tommy in our system (when Bledsoe was injured), it would have been very devastating,” he said. “In any business you always need disaster insurance.”
Brady, 36, told Sports Illustrated this week that he was not surprised when the Patriots drafted Garoppolo. He also said he hopes he’s able to beat out Garoppolo and remain the starter “for a long time here.”
Kraft said he is confident that can happen.
“We believe that Tom has a lot of play left,” he said. “The way he takes care of his body, the way he eats, the way he trains ... people look up to him.”
Kraft credited Brady with being the “visionary” behind his 2013 contract restructuring that the owner hopes keeps Brady with the Patriots through 2017 at least.
Other marquee franchise quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning and Joe Montana famously left their original teams. But Kraft, in an exchange with former Patriots defender Willie McGinest (now an NFL Network analyst) said he doesn’t want to see that happen with Brady.
Said McGinest: “It’s safe to say Tommy’s only wearing one uniform in his entire career?”
Replied Kraft: “I sure hope so.”