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Belichick-mate: How the Patriots Can Play Chess at the 2021 NFL Draft

The San Francisco 49ers have a decision to make in the 2021 NFL Draft. While their 3rd overall pick is huge, it’s bigger for New England.

Bill Belichick by Alexander Jones is licensed under CC BY SA-2.0

Belichick-mate: How the Patriots Can Play Chess at the 2021 NFL Draft


Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

The NFL Draft is upon us, and for the majority of New England Patriots fans, that means an entire weekend of acting like Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind while attempting to predict Bill Belichick‘s moves. It’s always a fun game, and more often than not, the majority of us are wrong. Is Bill going to take a kicker in the 3rd? Will he move up to get a long-snapper in the 2nd? There are a plethora of options here, folks. A PLETHORA.

But the one that seems the most interesting is the chess game that’s happening with Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers.

The Patriots dealt Jimmy G to San Francisco back in 2017, in exchange for a 2018 2nd-round pick. The following year the Niners signed Jimmy to a 5-year, $137.5 million dollar extension. The next two years didn’t go exactly as San Francisco had hoped. Sure Garoppolo helped bring the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2019, but on either side of that 13-3 season, the young QB struggled to stay healthy.

And now with a QB heavy draft class, and the third overall pick, the San Francisco 49ers are faced with a question: Do you draft a potential franchise quarterback, or do you stick it out with Jimmy Garoppolo?

For New England, their first season since Tom Brady left for Tampa Bay was a disaster under center. Cam Newton entered the season in the hopes of turning around his career’s decline. What transpired was some uninspiring performances, and calls for the Patriots to look elsewhere for a signal-caller grew.

As the Patriots missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008, the idea that Bill Belichick would need to look outside the organization for a new quarterback began to spread. Jarrett Stidham didn’t seem to impress, and Cam Newton‘s 2020 numbers look like a jumbled mess. So naturally, the Patriots have been connected to rumors surrounding their interest in a reunion with Jimmy G. There’s just one problem: The 49ers want an “overwhelming return” for their current quarterback.

However, with Jimmy G’s health a question mark and the third-overall pick in the 2021 draft, the 49ers might be forced into parting with the former Patriot sooner than you think. If Kyle Shanahan is trying to turn over a new leaf in the Bay Area, it might be worth his time to deal Jimmy G after selecting Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Mac Jones, or even Justin Fields with their first pick.

If the 49ers hold onto Jimmy and take a non-QB, it feels like they are tossing the value of their pick away. Drafting LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase or Florida’s Kyle Pitts seems like a misstep if the guy getting them the ball can’t stay healthy. And if they do take a QB, and they sit behind Jimmy G for two years while he plays out his contract, that’s just delaying the inevitable.

And this is where the Patriots come in.

By waiting for the 49ers to tip their hand, the Patriots can wait them out and sit tight as a deal forms. If the 49ers get a QB with their pick, the incentive to ship Garoppolo increases. If they balk and go for Chase or Pitts, the Patriots can in turn look at their options as QBs fall down the board. Heck, the Patriots could even trade up and snag someone after that point. But everything hinges on San Francisco’s move.

And all of this stems from the idea that the 49ers asking price for Jimmy Garoppolo is way too high. Which… it is.

Jimmy G will turn 30 this upcoming season, and with that comes some concerns about the length of his playing days. In the last few years since Drew Bledsoe was dealt by the Patriots to Buffalo for a first-round pick, only a handful of QBs age 30 or over have been dealt for first-round picks. And even then, those QBs had solid track records. Garoppolo simply doesn’t have that on his resumé.

Instead, by forcing the 49ers to show their cards, Belichick and the Patriots can then play theirs and potentially offer them second round, or even third round picks to build around their new QB. At that point in time, after dancing around with wants and needs for a trade, the control of the narrative shifts.

Bill Belichick gets to play chess with the 49ers, and I wouldn’t want to be in that position.

Justin Colombo is a 2017 Broadway Show Softball League All-Star at 3B/SS. He's essentially the Manny Machado of the Kinky Boots team. Justin has been writing about Baseball since he was a little kid. Now that being an actor in NYC has given him a lot of free time, in 2015 he decided to take his passion public and founded Three Up, Three Down as a way to express his love for the game. From there, Three Up, Three Down grew from a hobby to an obsession. After years of growth and one insult from MLB's Historian, Justin launched The Turf, a way to expand into all areas of the sporting world. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. LET'S. GO. METS.

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