I’ve saved the best for last here with the positional preview excerpts from the season preview guide (available here in its entirety for just $5) — the quarterbacks.
The Patriots have the luxury of having three quarterbacks that they love on the roster. Yes, it all starts with Tom Brady, who, in his 17th season as the starter, has a chance to keep setting the bar for quarterback greatness even higher. It’s hard not to feel spoiled wondering about the implications of another Super Bowl season for number 12. Brady has delivered one of the most special NFL careers in history and shows no signs of slowing down.
But we all know the end of NFL careers can come abruptly so it’s important to enjoy every moment that we get to see the legend continue. The Patriots are well protected with Jimmy Garoppolo, who was the subject of much debate all offseason.
All along I believed they should keep Garoppolo. Having a quarterback you can win with is the absolute most valuable asset a team can have and it would be foolish to move him for anything less than a blockbuster deal that would give the Patriots multiple high-round assets over the next few seasons.
Now the team has a reliable backup quarterback who would still keep the Pats very much in the Super Bowl contender conversation should the unthinkable happen atop the depth chart. They can use the Cassel method next offseason, franchise tag and trade, to still get something for Garoppolo. It might not be as much as they might’ve gotten this past offseason, but that’s the price of insurance. At this stage of Belichick and Brady’s career, I’m fine paying a little extra for insurance.
Brissett is the true x-factor in all of this. If he continues to build on a rookie season where he was thrown into the fire immediately, he just might be the heir apparent everyone assumed Garoppolo would be. Brissett’s development will be a major thing to watch this summer through the preseason, and could tell us a lot about Garoppolo’s future.
Here’s a closer look at the trio of signal callers.
Tom Brady – It’s hard to wrap your head around that Brady might’ve delivered the signature season of his career in his 17th year. It started with the four-game suspension for Deflategate, which was reinstated by an appeals court last summer. The Patriots managed to go 3-1, despite having to start rookie Brissett in two of those games due to an injury to Garoppolo. Brady would return in Week 5 and lose just one game all season — a thrilling mid-November affair against the Seahawks that once again came down to the final snaps as Brady and the offense were stopped on Seattle’s goal line. Brady would finish the year with 28 touchdowns to just two interceptions, showing little sign of decline at 39 and finishing second in MVP voting. The team cruised through the first two rounds of the playoffs before Super Bowl 51. After a pick six and then an early third quarter touchdown by the Falcons, Brady found himself in a 28-3 hole, setting the stage for the greatest comeback in NFL history and the most memorable performance of Brady’s career. Outside of Martellus Bennett, Brady’s entire 2017 offense returns intact, with new addition Brandin Cooks potentially making them all the more unstoppable. There’s little reason to think Brady will show any dropoff in 2017, but at 40 years old staying healthy is what matters most.
Jimmy Garoppolo – After all the hype of the four-game Garoppolo tour to start the 2016 season, Jimmy G lasted just a game and a half before a shoulder injury cost him two more starts. Still, in his brief appearance as a starter, Garoppolo looked like a quarterback the Patriots could win double-digit games with. He threw four touchdowns in those two games, leading the Patriots on a 61-yard drive late in the four quarter that set up the game winning field goal against the Cardinals. The next week against Miami, Garoppolo led three-straight scoring drives to open the game before getting hurt late in the second quarter. After all the trade speculation this offseason, the Patriots have retained Garoppolo for the final year of his contract, providing them with maybe the best insurance policy in the league at the most important position. Garoppolo should spend another year on the bench in 2017, but expect the Patriots to Franchise Tag-then-trade him in the spring of 2018, unless something shocking happens.
Jacoby Brissett – Brissett didn’t get the relaxing apprenticeship most third Patriots quarterbacks have become used to over the years, getting thrust into game action in the second game of the season against the Dolphins, then having to start the last two games before Tom Brady returned from suspension. Brissett made the most of his time, showing great toughness overcoming a thumb injury that occurred against the Texans to start against the Bills in Week 4. The injury would land him on IR, but the Patriots brought him back at the end of the season, a sign that the organization has high hopes for the young quarterback and wanted him to be a close part of the Super Bowl run. Brissett showed great poise and toughness after getting thrown into the fire early and now with another year to develop with the playbook he should make strong strides in his second season.