ESPN’s Seth Wickersham stands by the Patriots’ story
Peter King discussed the Patriots’ quarterback options beyond the 2020 season
Seth Wickersham’s new Patriots-centered book “It’s Better to Be Feared” is not just about Tom Brady-Bill Belichick’s debate feed. It also gives a picture of the New England offense led by someone other than Mac Jones in the 2021 season – and that man was not Cam Newton either.
Wickersham writes that the Patriots engaged in initial discussions with the San Francisco 49ers about trading with the team’s former quarterback in the second round Jimmy Garoppolo prior to the 2021 NFL Draft before finally passing on a deal and choosing Jones.
“There was an informal call between a senior representative of the Patriots and a senior 49ers official,” wrote the author. “What was Garoppolo’s price? New England wondered if another round would be enough – even calling it from 2017. But the 49ers would not take less than a first.
The book’s timeline suggests that these conversations took place Before The 49ers sent a treasure trove of choices to the Miami Dolphins to move up to No. 3 overall, with San Francisco eventually taking quarterback Trey Lance.
At the time, the 49ers were probably in a similar spot as the Patriots were with Newton: “Counter on” Garoppolo, the established starting quarterback, for insurance while seeking to upgrade in draft or by swap, if possible.
Meanwhile, New England reportedly saw Garoppolo as an optimal option, in theory, to get their offensive back on track, after seeing him play in their system for three years.
But the agreement never came to anything.
“The Patriots reached the same conclusion as San Francisco – they liked the potential of the available first-round quarterbacks more than Garoppolo – and moved on,” Wickersham wrote.
Then, of course, there is the disagreement that the 49ers are potentially tumbling between taking Jones, a polished view out of Alabama, or Lance, a smart, physically gifted passerby with rawness but remarkable upside. Eventually, Lance went to San Francisco, and Jones dropped all the way to New England as No. 15.
Fast forward to Week 8 of the NFL season, and Jones (1,779 passing yards, 70.4 completions, 9 TDs, 6 INTs, 53.5 QBR) is not only the best in the rookie quarterback class, but is slightly better than Garoppolo (1,106 passing yards, 64.8 completions, 6 TDs, 4 INTs, 38.1 QBR) right now.
There has been plenty of criticism about Bill Belichick’s decision-making in the game this season, especially since it’s about being too careful with his rookie quarterback.
But on this occasion, it seems to be waiting instead of getting an aggressive game to pay off. Now the Patriots have a young quarterback in Jones who is improving for every game instead of Garoppolo, whose days as an NFL backup might be fast approaching.
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