Pretty rare for a backup quarterback to be one of the most talked about players as we enter the NFL offseason, especially one with about six relevant quarters under his belt, but everywhere you turn these days, people are talking about Jimmy Garoppolo. When will the Patriots trade him? What will they get for him? What should they get for him? Should they even trade him at all? That noise hasn’t bothered Garoppolo, who was repeatedly asked about it during Super Bowl week.
“I can’t control it. I can’t control any of it. I can just control myself,” he told me at one point. And then he smiled. Jimmy is always smiling, even on the practice field, where he’s done most of his work.
“He can ball,” said Duron Harmon. “He’s not afraid of anything.”
“Oh man, Jimmy is really good. Lot of times, you can’t tell the difference (between Garoppolo and Tom Brady),” Malcolm Butler added, echoing something Bill Belichick said late in the year, catching many off guard.
Garoppolo and Brady? Well if Garoppolo is the sponge they say he is, and he absorbed three years worth of intel from Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, then maybe he can at least be a good player in this league for a long time.
“I learned a ton, a ton (from Brady and McDaniels),” said Garoppolo. “The knowledge between the two of them, they’ve been doing it for 17 years in the same offense. It’s helped me a ton and it will only help me going forward.”
Julian Edelman gets to be on Garoppolo’s side for many a practice, and was in the huddle at the start of the season when the 3rd year pro had to step in for the suspended Brady. He told NFL Network that the Eastern Illinois product has something you can’t coach.
“I’m not a paid GM, so I don’t know the whole value thing, but as far as a guy I get to play with every single day, Jimmy Garoppolo, the guy’s a stud,” Edelman said on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access." “He went out and played in the regular season, and he played very well. He’s got that kind of gunslinger kind of confidence, that Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers-kind of confidence. He practices hard, he prepares hard, he’s a good kid, he’s young. I think he’s a good player.”
That may have pained Edelman to say. His bromance with Brady is well-documented, but the wide receiver is no dummy. Edelman saw what his teammates saw, what his coaches saw, and what the Pats are banking other team saw as they search for a franchise quarterback.
“I want him on our team,” said McDaniels, adding that that was a decision he doesn’t get to make. “He’s a professional now. He’s not a rookie anymore. He’s learned. He knows how to handle himself. He can play, and play at a high level.”
“Man, I don’t know, but I know he’s good. I know he’s great,” said Butler.
“Jimmy can play in this league and play for a long time,” Chris Hogan offered. “To go into to [the season-opener in] Arizona, and play like he did tells you a lot.”
Garoppolo wouldn’t get into all that, repeating his familiar refrain, “Just being in the NFL is a privilege, it's a hard thing to do. Whenever you get the opportunity to play you've got to take advantage of it.”
He did -- and now the Patriots and Garoppolo may both reap the rewards.