In a stunning move, the Patriots traded quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round pick in the 2018 draft, a league source confirmed Monday night.
The trade leaves New England with just Tom Brady as quarterback on the roster as the team heads into its bye week with a 6-2 mark after Sunday’s win over the Chargers.
With the trade deadline Tuesday at 4 p.m., many were anticipating some Patriots moves but few could have predicted this bombshell.
Rumors persisted all offseason that teams were making bids for Garoppolo, who is in the final season of his four-year rookie contract and is surely due for a big pay day next year. Now the only sure thing is it won’t be coming from the Patriots.
Asked during his weekly “Monday Night Football” interview on Westwood One how the trade affects him, Brady said, “I’m going to bring it every single day, like I’ve tried to do the last 18 years.
“Jimmy was a great teammate and a great friend and he always will be. I want nothing but the very best for him. He’s earned the trust of his teammates and the respect of his teammates and that’s all you can ask for as a player.”
Receiver Danny Amendola was quick to react to the move, tweeting “Niners gota(sic) good one! #goodluckpal #italy #businesssideofthings.’’
There was no hint a big deal was in the works during Bill Belichick’s Monday morning call with reporters, but he did say “things can change literally in a period of minutes” when it comes to trade talks.
“I think trying to predict what’s going to happen this year is — I don’t have any idea,’’ Belichick said. “I’m sure a lot of the other experts out there do but I don’t. So, you just take it as it comes. If it makes sense and it works, then great. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.’’
The winless 49ers (0-8) likely are to be picking high in the second round next April.
The trade is confirmation that the Patriots believe the 40-year-old Brady will continue to play at a high level for the forseeable future. The five-time Super Bowl champion has stated his desire is to play into his mid-40s.
It does, however, leave a gaping hole behind Brady because the Patriots traded Jacoby Brissett to the Colts just before the season.
With the 49ers expected to release current starter Brian Hoyer, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think he could land back in Foxborough, where he started his career as an undrafted free agent in 2009, and has familiarity and experience in the system.
Journeyman Taylor Heinicke spent a cup of coffee with the practice squad earlier this season and seems a logical choice to get a call unless the club has more moves up its sleeve on Tuesday.
New England’s second-round pick and the 62d overall selection in 2014, Garoppolo’s stock soared during his short audition last season while Brady was forced to sit out the first four games as a result of his Deflategate suspension.
Garoppolo was tremendous on opening night 2016, directing the Patriots to a win over Cardinals in Arizona in prime time. He completed 24 of 33 passes for 264 yards and a touchdown.
The 6-foot-2-inch, 225-pounder was brilliant in the home opener, carving up the Dolphins for 232 yards and three touchdowns passes – all in the first half – before he suffered a sprained AC joint on a takedown by Kiko Alonso.
The Patriots resisted trade offers for Garoppolo (the Browns reportedly offered a second-rounder and more) near the draft, preferring to keep him in house.
The move allows Garoppolo to get his desired wish: to play. And now Garoppolo gets to play in Brady’s backyard for the team Brady grew up rooting for.
“I like to compete and I want to be a starter,’’ he said this summer, while insisting he’s never been “frustrated” by being behind Brady on the depth chart. Garoppolo said that Brady “has been like a big brother to me.’’
Belichick often lauded Garoppolo for his athleticism and his teammates marveled at his work with the scout team and his ability to morph into the opposing quarterback in order to give the defense a good look during practice.
Garoppolo will work under 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, an offensive guru who helped raise Matt Ryan’s game to an MVP level while he was the offensive coordinator in Atlanta.
With Garoppolo’s contract expiring, it would have cost the Patriots upward of $22 million to franchise him. Coupled with Brady’s 2018 salary of $14 million, that’s a lot of money dedicated to the quarterback slot.
It also would have had the added dynamic of the backup making more than the starter.
San Francisco has back-to-back home games against the Cardinals and Giants the next two weeks before their bye week.