Fresh off their first losing season in two decades, the New England Patriots are reportedly planning to pursue their former quarterback to lead them back to the playoffs.
No, not the one you're thinking about. The one they reportedly want is Jimmy Garoppolo, who they traded in 2017.
"From what I gather from talking to people this week, over the past week, Jimmy Garoppolo still is far and away their Plan A," Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal said on his podcast this week. "That, if they had to draw it up, exactly the optimal situation for the Patriots for this coming season, it's Jimmy G coming back here. And of course, that's all dependent on the 49ers doing something."
Garoppolo played for the Patriots from 2014 to 2017 before being traded for a second-round pick during the 2017 season. He's been solid but unspectacular in San Francisco, with most metrics grading him out as an average starting quarterback, but the 49ers have been largely successful whenever he's been in the lineup. The 49ers are 22-8 over the last four seasons with Garoppolo as their starter and 7-27 with someone else under center.
49ers general manager John Lynch recently said the team plans on having Garoppolo back as its starter next season but acknowledged a need for a sturdy backup. Garoppolo has missed 23 games over the last three seasons.
"Being available is a big part of this thing," Lynch said on the Eye Test for Two podcast. "So we—probably as a stated goal—we have to insulate ourselves better. We got to have better options if he's not there. I've watched people go through this in their careers where they struggled early. It happened to me early, and then I went eight years without missing a practice. So I believe things can happen, and I believe they will for him. I really believe that Jimmy is our guy."
The Patriots struggled to replace Tom Brady last season, with Cam Newton looking significantly past his prime as a passer while being surrounded by one of the worst skill-position cores in football. New England has significant cap space to make offensive upgrades this offseason ($66.5 million), and bringing back Garoppolo is an understandable goal given he never wanted to move on.
Garoppolo, 29, has a base salary of $24.1 million in 2021 and $24.2 million in 2022.