Now that the NFL draft has come-and-gone, it is quite clear that both Jimmy Garoppolo and Malcolm Butler will be members of the 2017 New England Patriots team, but what happens after that?
For months, rumors swirled involving both players and their potential new landing spot. Garoppolo had been linked with Cleveland for months. Butler had New Orleans hot on his trail around the time of the Brandin Cooks trade.
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However, after weeks of assuming both players were a lock to be elsewhere in 2017, nothing ever came to fruition. The Saints were reluctant to part with the 11th overall pick (that’s assuming any trade discussion for Butler would start with that pick after the Cooks-to-Patriots trade was completed) and their interest in the corner waned over time.
The Saints were then gifted talented cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Lattimore fell out of the top-10 and into the laps of the Saints at pick number 11 on Thursday. Perhaps the Saints plan on making-a-run at Butler in free-agency but for now, they have filled their need at the corner position.
The Garoppolo-to-Cleveland rumors persisted until the very last minute. The Browns reportedly called the Patriots at the end of day-one in a last-ditch effort to pry Garoppolo away, but the Patriots declined. After being rebuffed by the Patriots yet again, the Browns presumably found their future starting quarterback, drafting DeShone Kizer with the 20th pick of the second round.
So what happens to these players after the 2017 season?
Butler seems like more of the clear-cut scenario. He will play for the $3.91 million in 2017 and form one of the most dominant secondaries in the league. He will be paired with newcomer Stephon Gilmore, and then likely walk at the end of the year. Assuming his talent doesn’t regress this season and he continues to trend upwards into the prime of his career, some team will pay him more than the Patriots when he reaches free agency.
Garoppolo’s future with the team is a bit more gray. The decision not-to-trade Garoppolo wasn’t made with any inside knowledge that Tom Brady really isn’t going to play up to three years, but rather it seems the Patriots were never really blown away by any offer for Garoppolo. If Cleveland had offered the number one overall pick for Garoppolo, he’d be throwing to Josh Gordon and Myles Garrett would be wreaking havoc on the Patriots defense.
With the lack of an adequate offer for Garoppolo, Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ brass are perfectly content with holding on to the best backup quarterback in the league. Although his trade value will never be as high as it was before the draft, this gives the team another year to evaluate third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett. At the same time, they can reevaluate where Brady is after age 40.
If Brady continues to not miss-a-beat and Brissett’s development continues to trend upwards, then the Patriots could franchise Garoppolo. By franchising Garoppolo, they would have the ability to trade him like Matt Cassel in 2009. San Francisco could be interested in Garoppolo at the right price, creating a market for him next year. However, the return will be peanuts compared to what the Patriots would of received this offseason.