By Matt Citak
The NFL trade deadline has historically been a quiet time around the league. However, that has not been the case this year, as several big name players have been dealt to new teams in the last 24 hours. Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi was sent to the Philadelphia Eagles, while three-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Duane Brown is now a member of the Seattle Seahawks. But, the biggest trade deadline splash came Monday night, when the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers agreed to a deal that sent quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers in exchange for a 2018 second round pick.
Garoppolo had been Tom Brady’s backup in New England since he was drafted out of Eastern Illinois in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. It wasn’t until Brady was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season that Garoppolo saw extended playing time. The young quarterback completed 42-of-59 passes (71.2 percent) for 496 yards and four touchdowns in just a game and a half before having to leave during the second quarter of New England’s 31-24 Week 2 win over the Miami Dolphins with a shoulder injury.
In acquiring Garoppolo, general manager John Lynch, head coach Kyle Shanahan, and the entire 49ers organization hope they have finally found the franchise quarterback they have been in search of for years. But, the trade has some major implications for a few other clubs around the league as well. Garoppolo was Brady’s backup, the only other quarterback on New England’s roster, and at one point seen as Brady’s successor. By trading him, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are putting all of their eggs into the Tom Brady basket, hoping their star quarterback can continue to play at this high level well into his 40s. In addition, the 49ers were seen as one of the favorites to land quarterback Kirk Cousins, if he were to part ways with the Redskins, in free agency next offseason. This trade most likely takes San Francisco out of the running for Cousins, who could now decide to re-sign in Washington.
CBS Sports and INSIDE THE NFL analyst Phil Simms weighed in on the trade that sent Garoppolo to San Francisco, and what the deal could mean for the 49ers, the Patriots, and Kirk Cousins.
Simms, along with Boomer Esiason, Ray Lewis, and James Brown break down this and other NFL storylines all season long each Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime’s Inside The NFL.
CBS Local Sports: The big news today is the trade between the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers. Did Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers just grab their potential franchise quarterback by acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo?
Phil Simms: San Francisco absolutely grabbed their franchise quarterback. They would not have done this just to try to win a couple games here at the end of the year. I’m sure they thought about this even before the draft last year. “Hey what would it take to go get Jimmy Garoppolo?” But they couldn’t get it done. They probably didn’t look into it too deeply because there were so many other problems around their football team. He’s got experience now. They’ve really worked him hard up in New England. He played a couple games last season. He’s gotten so many reps during training camp and preseason games. I look at him as an experienced quarterback that’s going to work out well for the 49ers.
CBS Local Sports: What does the fallout of this trade mean for Kirk Cousins and his future?
Phil Simms: Kirk Cousins isn’t worried about it. He’s in a great situation. He’s playing well once again this year. Now I think I can safely say he is not going to sign with the 49ers this offseason. But there are still other teams out there that are going to look at him and say, “Hey he could be the answer to put our team over the top.” And that’s true. He could.
However, the Washington Redskins realize they’ve got a pretty good thing going down there in D.C. They’ve been unlucky with the injuries, but they’ve got great skill people. And, do you want to upset the quarterback situation and change that, when you think you’ve got the building blocks there to have a team that can really compete, go to the playoffs and be a factor? This 49ers trade is going to stop all of those rumors and thoughts [about San Francisco signing Cousins], and we’re going to see Kirk Cousins sign a long-term deal in Washington.
CBS Local Sports: This trade also represents the New England Patriots going all-in with Tom Brady. Is this a smart move to make with a 40-year-old quarterback?
Phil Simms: If you want greatness in the NFL, you’ve got to take some chances and you’ve got to gamble. Is this a little bit of a gamble for New England? Yes it is a little bit of a risk. But the Patriots have shown [that they can compete with any quarterback], just like last year when Tom Brady was suspended for four games. If Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo don’t both get hurt, they’re going to go 4-0. And it was going to be an easy 4-0. I’m not saying they’re going to win the Super Bowl if Tom Brady gets hurt, but they have faith in their offensive line, their system, and what they’re doing. I’m sure they have a quarterback in mind who they’re going to bring in to back up Tom Brady, and the transition is going to be pretty easy. The Patriots are thinking this through and through. This wasn’t just a sudden move by the New England Patriots.
Matt Citak is a producer for CBS Local Sports and a proud Vanderbilt alum. Follow him on Twitter or send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.