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#pounditThursday, October 1, 2020

AFC coach wonders if this is Tom Brady’s last year with Patriots

Tom Brady

The Patriots could have gotten a king’s ransom for Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason if they traded the young quarterback, but Bill Belichick turned down every offer that came his way. Does that tell us anything about Tom Brady’s future in New England?

At least one of Belichick’s fellow coaches believes it could.

According to Albert Breer of The MMQB, several NFL teams were under the impression that the Patriots had “ZERO” intention of trading Garoppolo before the draft. In the eyes of one AFC coach, that could signal that Belichick is planning to part ways with Brady.

“It made me think the Tom Brady situation isn’t what everyone thinks it is,” the coach told Breer. “Bill (Belichick) does unconventional things. Maybe he trades Jimmy during the season. Or maybe he keeps Jimmy and says good-bye to Tom after the year.”

Unless a contending team loses its quarterback to injury, trading Garoppolo during the season almost certainly would not bring as significant of a return as it would have last month. If Belichick was willing to do that, he probably would have already parted ways with the 25-year-old.

Brady will turn 40 in August. Somehow, he looked as good as ever while leading the Patriots to another Super Bowl last season. What Brady has accomplished defies logic, and that is likely why Belichick wants to hold onto Garoppolo, who he obviously thinks very highly of, as long as possible.

At the very least, Belichick believes having a reliable backup who has proven he can succeed in real game situations is more important than having a couple of high draft picks. But what are the Patriots going to do next offseason, when Garoppolo is set to become a free agent and is no longer on the books for less than $1 million? They could franchise tag him, but that would mean allocating a massive portion of the salary cap to one position, which is something New England has historically not done.

Anything can happen with a 40-year-old quarterback, and that is probably why Belichick wants to wait it out as long as possible. If Brady plays in 2017 they way he played in 2016, it will be difficult to move on from him. Belichick could be thinking about trading Brady, as many have speculated he wants to prove he can win a championship without the four-time Super Bowl MVP. Though, Robert Kraft could decide to do something he has never done — step in and veto a roster decision — if Belichick wants to get rid of Brady.

Brady is probably more worried about the issues his wife created for him this week than he is about Garoppolo taking his job. That said, he has to know that Belichick turning down a massive collection of draft capital to keep Garoppolo means the coach is not 100 percent sold on Brady remaining healthy and playing at a high level for another five years.

If Garoppolo is on the Patriots’ roster when Brady is 45 (or even 43), Brady won’t be. That’s just reality.

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