The New England Patriots are reportedly trying to bring a familiar face back to the franchise following their dismal first season without longtime quarterback Tom Brady.
During an episode of his podcast last week, Greg Bedard of Boston Sports Journal reported that Jimmy Garoppolo — whom the Patriots traded to the San Francisco 49ers in 2017 — is “far and away” the Patriots’ “Plan A” at quarterback.
“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,” Bedard said. “And of course, that’s all dependent on the 49ers doing something.”
The Patriots signed Cam Newton to be their starter before the 2020 NFL season. New England finished the year with a 7-9 record and missed the playoffs.
Newton, who spent nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers, had 2,657 yards, eight passing touchdowns, and 10 interceptions in 15 games. He also had 12 rushing touchdowns.
A second Patriots season for Newton seems unlikely, and New England doesn’t appear to be sold on Jarrett Stidham as their future starter either.
Last month, The Athletic reported the Patriots had been calling every team with a potential quarterback trade target, though those pursuits never gained traction. The Patriots are also “heavily scouting” the top quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft class, according to publication.
But it appears those are fallback options as the Patriots seek a reunion with Garoppolo, whom they selected in the second round of the 2014 draft. A little more than three months after the 2017 Halloween trade, Garoppolo signed a five-year, $137.5 million contract with the 49ers. He has two years remaining on that deal.
His first full season as the Niners’ starter in 2018 ended abruptly in Week 3 when he suffered a torn ACL. Garoppolo returned in 2019 to help lead San Francisco to a 13-3 record and an appearance in the Super Bowl, which the 49ers lost to the Chiefs.
Injuries limited Garoppolo, 29, to six starts in 2020. There were rumblings during the season that the Niners were ready to move on from Garoppolo, and talk of a divorce continues despite public support from the organization.
“Do I believe 49ers general manager John Lynch when he claims that Garoppolo will be his starter in 2021? Of course not,” NFL insider Michael Lombardi recently wrote in The Athletic. “They are too active, too aggressive to run it back one more year with someone they don’t have complete trust in.”
The 49ers have called the Panthers about Teddy Bridgewater, according to The Athletic, another sign they’re looking for a new quarterback.
If the 49ers are truly ready to dump Garoppolo, it seems Bill Belichick will be waiting with open arms to welcome him back to Foxborough.