A Surprising NFL Trade…

I must admit that I was surprised to see yesterday that the Pats traded Jimmy Garoppolo to the Niners leaving them with Tom Brady as the only QB on their roster and/or practice squad.  I understand that the team does things their own way – the Patriot way – and all that stuff, but one QB is very much against the grain even when that QB is not 40 years old.  I do not doubt Tom Brady and his continued ability to play the position but there is this little thing involved in the NFL called “injury”.  Current thinking is that the Pats will sign Brian Hoyer whom the Niners released because Hoyer was previously the backup in New England and therefore “knows the system”.  For the record, he was the backup there from 2009 through 2011 so the Pats must assume he has a really good memory for “the system” since he has been with 5 different teams and in 5 different systems since 2011.

  • [Aside: Here is a bar bet you could probably win if you could set it up.  In 2014 – his last year in Cleveland – Brian Hoyer led the NFL in Yards per completion with 13.7.  I would never have guessed that.]

The Niners gave up a second-round pick next year to acquire Garoppolo which is a fair price; the rumors last year that the Pats were asking for a high first round pick plus other picks or players were exaggerations or fantasies depending which side of the trade you were on.  TV talking heads were quick last night to declare the winner and the loser in this trade which is absurd until you know what the Pats do with the acquired draft pick next year.  However, I think that this trade has a ripple effect that goes beyond the simple exchange of these two assets.

  1. Kirk Cousins:  It was never an axiom that he was going to the Niners at the end of this year when the cost to the Skins of keeping him on a year-to-year basis became ridiculous; nonetheless, even the speculation about such a landing spot for him gave him leverage.  One bit of the leverage is now gone.  Cousins will still attract plenty of suitors in free agency but there is one less call that his agent will be taking.
  2. Browns/Jets/Giants/Cardinals:  These are 4 teams that need QBs in next year’s draft and all of them could have picks in the Top 10.  The Niners would also have been in the QB market in the draft and would definitely have been in the Top 10.  Now there is “less traffic” for those 4 teams.

There is another question that this trade poses and the answer depends on which end of the telescope you want to look through.  Here is the question; what does this trade say about the quality of the QBs in the upcoming draft?  After all, everyone has been saying that this might be a great class of QBs with lots of depth in the field.

  1. The QB Class is not all it is cracked up to be:  Well, if you want to believe that, you have the Niners to point to as your “evidence”.  Did John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan make this trade because they have concluded that the QBs in the 2018 Draft Class are over-hyped and under-talented?  I don’t read minds, but if you want to think that, you are free to do so for the next several years until we see how the QBs in this class turn out.
  2. The QB Class is even deeper than anyone thought:  Well, if you want to believe that, you have Bill Belichick – the sinister hooded genius – to point to as your “evidence”.  Did the Pats make this trade because Belichick & Co. have already identified a QB they are confident they can get in the second round who is good enough to be the primary backup and heir apparent in New England?  Once again, I don’t read minds but if you want to think that, you are free to do so until we see what the Pats do in the draft next year.

I mentioned 4 teams above that need QB help badly who look to be on the way to high first round picks.  There is another team that is in desperate need of a QB in a different category.  The Denver Broncos have a defense that could carry the team to the playoffs and maybe deep into the playoffs; that defense is that good.  Their problem now is that their starting QB, Trevor Siemian, is self-immolating.  The fact that Siemian was not benched at halftime of last night’s game tells me that the Broncos are in deep yogurt; Siemian’s performance last night requires adjectives such as “abysmal”, “awful”, “appalling”, “atrocious” – – and I am not down to the letter “b” in the alphabet to get to words such as “bad” or “beastly”.

The Broncos have two QBs on the roster.  One is Brock Osweiler; I think there are enough returns in to declare that he is not a long-term answer to a QB problem in the NFL.  The other is Paxton Lynch who has been injured but who – also – has been unable to beat out Trevor Siemian in the Exhibition Season for two years in a row.  Compounding the problem for the Broncos here is the schedule maker.  With a record of 3-4, the schedule gets tough for the next month; this will be a severe test for that defense:

  • At Philly:  The Eagles’ defense is playing very well – particularly on run defense.  That sets up a situation where the Broncos’ QB will need to be an important cog in the offense.
  • Vs. New England:  Tom Brady has never played well in Denver and the Pats’ defense is not the team strength.  Nonetheless, the Denver QB cannot be a turnover machine against the pats.
  • Vs. Cincy:  If the Bengals’ defense shows up and plays to its ability – and avoids its own self-immolation tendencies – this will be a very low-scoring game.
  • At Oakland:  If the Bengals navigate successfully through those first three games, they then have this division game on the road that will be very important regarding playoff tie-breakers.

Finally, here is a timely NFL commentary from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“The Texans’ Bob McNair, discussing protesting players with his fellow owners, said, ‘We can’t have the inmates running the prison.’

“There went O.J.’s hopes of making his NFL comeback in Houston.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………