Another layer of the onion from the bombshell ESPN report on discord in the New England Patriots organization got peeled away Monday.
The Cleveland Browns were willing to deal the No. 4 overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft “and other goodies” to the Patriots for Jimmy Garoppolo, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports.
The Patriots ended up dealing Garoppolo two days after the Browns reached out to negotiate, the report details. The Patriots told the Browns that Garoppolo wasn’t available for trade.
Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson backed up the report’s assertion.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) January 8, 2018
In the end, the Patriots didn’t negotiate with anyone other than the 49ers, according to the report.
The ESPN report detailed that the Garoppolo deal with the 49ers resulted as a “clear mandate” from team owner Robert Kraft to head coach Bill Belichick, who was reluctant to part with his prized backup quarterback.
Kraft denied this report.
“I assumed once the season started, we’d talk again at the end of the season about it,” Kraft told The MMQB. “The next time I spoke with Bill about it was the Monday before the trade deadline. He called me on that Monday and said he got a deal with San Francisco, Jimmy for a second-round pick and [quarterback] Brian Hoyer. Turns out they had to cut Hoyer and then we got him. But really, this was basically a second-round pick and Brian Hoyer for Jimmy. Bill asked me if I was OK with this. I was really taken aback a little bit. I wanted to think about it. I talked to Jonathan, who was okay with it, and I called Bill back and said, ‘OK.’”
Regardless, with Tom Brady still playing at an MVP level and Garoppolo approaching the end of his contract, the Patriots had a decision to make, and they stuck with Brady.
If they truly turned down a chance at the first-round pick the Browns had acquired from the Houston Texans only to accept a considerably less valuable second-round pick from San Francisco, it’s a head-scratcher.
The Patriots have won five Super Bowls in seven appearances during the Brady/Belichick era in large part because they almost always get the better end of transactions. That they wouldn’t negotiate with the Browns or any team other than the 49ers is a stunner and out of character for a normally shrewd organization.
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