Patriots Rumors: NFL Insiders Expect NE to Draft QB amid Garoppolo Trade Buzz

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2021

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick works along the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

NFL insiders reportedly "believe" the New England Patriots are going to target a quarterback during the 2021 draft next month.

"From what I can gather in terms of talking to other people around the league as well, in terms of what they think the Patriots are going to do, most believe they're going to go quarterback come this draft," ESPN's Dianna Russini reported Wednesday on Get Up.

Former Pats linebacker Tedy Bruschi added he doesn't think the team will be involved in trade discussions for a potential reunion with San Francisco 49ers signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo, a second-round pick of New England in 2014 who was traded to the Niners in 2017:

Mike Reiss @MikeReiss

When @TedyBruschi talks Patriots football, I always listen. On @GetUpESPN with @Espngreeny, Tedy touches on Jimmy Garoppolo ... and why the price to acquire him makes it less likely to him that the Patriots are involved at this time. (1/2) https://t.co/xrkS6I4Qls

Russini explained the Patriots have showed "consistent" interest in Garoppolo, but the asking price is a key factor.

"This has got to be more San Francisco willing to make the deal, and of course, New England having the right amount of picks and money to get Jimmy to bring him back," she said. "And that's really what it's going to come down to."

The availability of Garoppolo has become a hot-button topic since the Niners made a blockbuster trade last week to acquire the third overall pick in this year's draft, which likely puts them in the market for one of the class' numerous marquee quarterback prospects.

San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters after moving up in the draft they'd "listen" if someone wanted to make a serious offer for the 29-year-old, but they're more than happy to keep him on the roster for 2021, even if they do take a QB at No. 3:

"We're in a situation where when you bring in a rookie quarterback, to me it's always better, especially on the team that you have, if you've got a veteran starter there already who you like and you're comfortable winning with, that's usually the direction you want to go. And not throw someone else out into the fire until they're fully ready, and that's the situation we're at. ... I think Jimmy, it's going to be hard to find a quarterback who gives us a better chance to win than Jimmy right now, especially even a rookie in the draft."

Garoppolo hasn't been able to stay healthy long enough to establish himself as a true franchise quarterback for the Niners. He was limited to three appearances in 2018 before suffering a torn ACL and missed 10 games last year because of a lingering ankle injury that landed him on injured reserve.

The Eastern Illinois product has posted solid numbers when healthy throughout his career, completing 67.5 percent of his throws for 8,042 yards with 51 touchdowns and 26 interceptions across 48 games (32 starts), but it's still unsettled whether he's a high-end quarterback who can carry a team or more of a mid-range option.

As for the Patriots, they've brought back Cam Newton as a likely short-term answer while they continue to hunt for their QB of the future.

While they own the 15th pick in the first round, all five of the most-talked about quarterback prospects—Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, BYU's Zach Wilson, Ohio State's Justin Fields, Alabama's Mac Jones and North Dakota State's Trey Lance—could be off the board by that point.

So New England may have the weigh the cost of trading up in the draft against taking a prospect in the second day of the draft.

Paying a high price to get Garoppolo back doesn't make a ton of sense on paper since it's not even guaranteed he'd beat out Newton for the starting job in 2021.