Hate to sound like a 30 for 30, but what if I told you that the NFL’s future lies in the hands of one powerful man.
Let’s take a trip back to 2014… Despite his 37 year old quarterback seeming to have zero problems with his current performance level, Bill Belichick decided to draft a low-key QB out of Eastern Illinois by the name of Jimmy Garoppolo – with the 64th pick in the draft.
Everyone was confused by the move at first, and wondered why Bill would use such a high selection on a quarterback; especially when he surely had Tom Brady secured for years to come. The mystery became greater as Brady and the Patriots showed absolutely no signs of slowing down for the foreseeable future – including two Super Bowl victories over Seattle and Atlanta.
Fast forward to October of 2017, and everything still seems to be going well for the most part – especially with Tom Brady’s production level continuing to remain steady. That is until the final day of that month, when that low-key young backup QB nicknamed of Jimmy G – a kid who has only made two career starts during the DeflateGate suspension – was traded to the QB-needy San Francisco 49ers, for a second round pick. This was also after rumors that the Patriots were not interested in trading Jimmy G at all, but he was then shipped to the Bay.
Alright, so Belichick and the organization realized Brady was here to stay for a longer time than they envisioned, and it was time to get value out of Jimmy G before he left as a free agent this coming offseason; correct?
Boy, that assumption could not be further from the truth. Anyone who’s thought that for all these years is in for a rude awakening.
. . .
Historically, Patriots owner Robert Kraft has allowed Bill Belichick – his brilliant Head Coach / General Manager – to call all the shots when it comes to building the team; and it has clearly paid dividends. All Kraft has to do is sit back and enjoy the show while his robot-resembling, miracle worker wins Super Bowl after Super Bowl.
Though, somewhere in that October of 2017 – or maybe even before – Kraft ditched his aforementioned philosophy by going against the trusted word of Bill. Instead, he took the side of his franchise poster-boy; Tom Brady. Most importantly, this may not have been just Kraft’s choice; it may have also been of his QB, that pressured his owner into keeping him around since he realized what was going on.
Per the inside information that was discovered, Belichick was on a mission to make Jimmy G the future franchise quarterback of his Patriots; meaning he wanted to move on from Brady much sooner than all believed. Belichick allegedly loved the abilities and leadership of Jimmy G (more than we’d expect), and it was an evident crush that could be recognized by the whole team.
Belichick truly believed the Patriots were better off sacrificing Tom Brady to retain the rights of Jimmy Garoppolo; who was again, an impending free agent who was obviously looking to get playing time. In Bill’s mind, Jimmy was the perfect guy to lead a smooth transition into yet another Patriots dynasty.
As we’ve seen in the modern NFL, elite QB-HC tandems rule the league; and Belichick realized that in order to prevent a situation where he was stuck with no elite future option at QB when Brady eventually regressed, and left New England – he had to take an unpopular risk, which of course was to choose Jimmy over Tom for the sake of the franchise.
As I mentioned before, we can surely assume that Brady did not want any part in being abruptly sent out the door for a young QB that would be his successor; so he used his power and leverage within the franchise to prevent this personal nightmare.
When the rumor began to spread, almost everyone took the side of Brady and Kraft, saying Bill would be insane to let go of the ‘GOAT’ this early, as he’s the player who has won so many Super Bowls for this franchise, and seemed invincible despite his age. Plus, they believed it would be extremely disrespectful to move on from Brady like that.
To now tie together all the pieces of this complex theory, the much more powerful Kraft (and/or Brady) overruled Belichick’s bold desire to go with Jimmy G, and Bill was therefore, angrily forced to send his perceived future QB away to a team he trusted – which was San Francisco – for a mere second rounder.
Bill’s master plan had gone up into flames, because his owner with superior decision making power, went against arguably the smartest football mind in the history of the game. This is a man who plays chess while the rest of the league plays checkers. He wants to be one step ahead in every way possible, and is not scared to make what he believes is the right move. That’s just who he is.
. . .
Fast forward to now – January of 2020. Time to evaluate the current aftermath of the massive dispute within the Patriots organization.
In late 2017, Garoppolo took a brand new offense with minimal weapons, and went on an absolutely stunning late season tear, winning several games for a bottoming 49ers team. This stretch earned him the biggest QB contract in NFL history (now surpassed), and continuous support from his former HC, via weekly post-game text messages congratulating him on his performances.
In February of 2018, after barely beating a Blake Bortles (fun fact: Bortles has a higher career playoff passer rating than Brady) lead Jacksonville team with the help of a crucial blown fumble call that the Jags were victim to – New England was stunned by the Eagles in a remarkable Super Bowl; where Brady had a historically good performance on the statistical-end.
The end that Bill envisioned did not seem near to the public. Current advantage, Team Kraft / Brady.
The 2018 season began with a crushing season ending injury that held Jimmy G out for the year. The Patriots dominated the regular season once more (not really that hard when playing in the AFC East, but that’s a story for another time), and ended up winning the Super Bowl in a historically dominant defensive effort (credit to Bill and Brian Flores) against a great Rams team.
This was also a Super Bowl they were fortunate to even be in, after Brady was bailed out by Dee Ford’s horrific offsides penalty (also irrelevant to the entire play) that erased the game clinching interception by Kansas City in the AFC title game. Truly a situation we’ve never seen before with Brady (please don’t avoid the sarcasm), which was him getting lucky in the biggest moments (again, a story for another time). On a serious note, Brady was shut down by the Rams all throughout the Super Bowl, despite the win.
Now comes this past season. Jimmy returned to the field, and had a phenomenal season of development, and now sits at the No. 1 NFC seed with a legit shot at winning the Super Bowl.
Brady, on the other hand, was now without Gronk for good, and was playing with a banged up Julian Edelman all season. Tommy had easily his worst season to date. And of course, it was capped off recently with very poor performances at home against Miami and Tennessee to eliminate him from the postseason.
Yes, you can make the argument about not having as much help from his offensive supporting cast compared to years past; but if he’s the ‘GOAT ‘ and is still held to the highest of standards; shouldn’t he be able to work with an ‘OK’ cast as opposed to elite? Love him or hate him, prime Brady in the perfect system for his wise, conservative, quick passing playing style would be able to get it done with this group. This Brady is not prime Brady, and is therefore incapable of reaching that level again.
As much as I don’t prefer to credit Brady for anything, I have to be realistic of the fact that he’s nearly 43, and human. This is normal, and we have to face the reality as we sit here today. I also have heard a common argument that it would be unrealistic for Brady to regress so much in just one year; but the truth is, he really wasn’t all that great last year either, so no one should be surprised.
Brady is an impending free agent, clearly not the future, and the Patriots are now faced with a massive decision about their future for the most important position in sports…
Oh yeah, and remember that whole story from before and the people who called Bill Belichick insane for wanting Jimmy G over Brady in the long term? Talk about a full circle.
. . .
Robert Kraft is now faced with a massive decision this offseason. Does he listen to Bill Belichick this time, and move on from Brady – despite the extremely sour ending – because it is the better football move? Or, does he stay loyal to Tom once again, and set the organization backwards with a feel-bad contract for his QB, that will waste another season of a talented team with contending potential.
Yes, the Patriots can keep Brady on a short term deal and start searching for their future QB; but do you really think Brady wants to sit through a process of replacing him, and Bill wants to have a declining Brady as his QB on a solid roster?
Absolutely not. They’re both massive competitors who want to prove that they can succeed without the other – who is permanently tied to their legacies and successes forever.
I’m sure as hell that Bill Belichick – a man who cares about winning much more than feeling bad for Brady, especially after six Super Bowl titles (that Brady can credit a large amount to his Head Coach) – is furious that he has to deal with this dilemma this offseason, that could have been avoided if Kraft trusted him. He should have been sitting pretty with Jimmy G as his man for the next decade plus, and now he’s stuck in a hole where he needs to find his next elite QB; which he understands that he needs to contend, as we said before.
Hopefully you stuck through, and now have a better idea of what’s really going on. This decision is much bigger than everyone assumes, and it’s not completely coming down to Brady or Belichick’s opinion; this is all up to Robert Kraft.
His decision could potentially lose him Brady at the tail end of his career, or Belichick – as I seriously wouldn’t rule out a furious resignation from the team if Kraft chooses Brady’s final Patriots go-around, over Bill’s future plans.
You’re mistaken if you think Bill is near the end of his career. He wants to clearly prove he can win without Brady, and maybe even bring a lowly franchise to glory. He has his own agenda too, and desires to follow that.
And most importantly to note, if Bill stays, the dynasty is far from over.
. . .
Mr. Kraft; the future of the NFL can very well be in your very own hands. Choose wisely.
Comment what you think below, and stay tuned for more; including a piece about exposing the luckiest player in NFL history. Any guesses?
(P/C: NBC Sports)