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What Is The Market Value For Jimmy Garoppolo?

The Patriots leader in passer rating in 2016, and Tom Brady

If you were an NFL team in need of a quarterback, you would certainly be interested in trading for Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo. The big question, of course, is what is he worth?

Garoppolo was the 62nd overall pick in the 2014 Draft. If he never took a snap between now and then, his market value would presumably have dropped. He, like all second round picks, signed a four-year deal, with cap hits of $633,436 in 2014, $791,795 in 2015, $950,154 in 2016, and $1,108,513 in 2017. If Garoppolo turns into even a serviceable NFL quarterback, his salary cap hit will go up astronomically, and his next contract could be somewhere in the range of $15M to $20M per year against the cap. An enormous part of the value of a draft pick is the four cost-controlled seasons; with Garoppolo, three of those are already toast. So while you could argue that a quarterback who sat for three years would likely be a better player in year 4 than a rookie quarterback, Garoppolo’s market value would still drop — significantly, I think — by virtue of having him on a cheap one-year deal versus having a rookie on a cheap four-year deal.

But, as we know, Garoppolo has played since being drafted. And while he didn’t do much his first two seasons, throwing for 188 yards on 31 passes, Garoppolo averaged 8.59 ANY/A on 66 dropbacks last season. Anecdotally, too, it seems as though the league views him as a strong prospect, giving him a higher grade than they did three years ago when he slipped to the end of round two.

So that’s the question of the day: how do you valuable outstanding performance on 66 dropbacks against losing three years of a cost-controlled contract? Is Garoppolo worth more or less than the 62nd pick in the 2017 draft? And how much more or less? The rumor mill suggests that Garoppolo, if traded, will go for more than that — do you think that makes sense?

And, perhaps most importantly, how would you go about trying to answer that question? What research would you do if you were in charge of an NFL team?

  • Josh Sanford

    Some of your questions are hard. I will answer the easy one: I think that the NFL, acting through its weakest link, will demonstrate that it thinks that his value has gone up.

    As a general rule, teams that trade draft picks for essentially unproven QBs are implicitly acknowledging, by the transaction itself, that they habitually waste draft picks by picking players who they have overvalued. Because of that, their own draft picks are not worth as much (to them) as teams that don’t find themselves needing to trade for unproven QBs; and so they, predictably, part with the picks relatively casually. Like a fool and his money. And the rich get richer.

    Lord knows the Patriots desperately need more high draft picks.

    • Richie

      If you are an NFL team and have the choice between drafting Mitch Trubisky or DeShaun Watson and trading for Jimmy Garoppolo, which of these options is most likely to net you a starting QB for the next 5 years?

      I feel like Garoppolo is the better bet at this point. Watson or Trubisky may have a higher ceiling (I don’t know), but I think Garoppolo has the better likelihood of success, because he has at least shown some NFL competence. We have seen first round QB’s who cleared showed INcompetence after their first 100 pass attempts. (There have also been false positives.)

      • That’s not the right question to ask, though. It’s like saying would you rather live in a $10M house or a $1M house.

        Trubisky or Watson will cost about $30M over the next 4 years. Garoppolo would cost about $70M on the cap over the next 4 years?

        • Richie

          Not sure what you’re saying. Since NFL teams have a salary cap (and theoretically a floor), they are going to be spending about $160M on contracts next year. It’s just a matter of how that money is distributed.

          What good is Trubisky on a $30M contract if he turns out to be Ryan Leaf?

          • But saying Garoppolo is going to be better than Watson is only part of the equation given that he will cost over twice as much.

            • Rick

              But at the QB position that’s money well spent. You don’t cut corners at the QB position. That’s why guys like Tyrod Talyor, Brock Osweiler, and Ryan Fitzpatrick get paid big salaries even though they’re not very good and rookies would be cheaper.

        • Rick

          QB acquisition decisions are made primarily on perceived talent level. Getting a high quality start can make or break a GM’s career. No GM has ever saved his job by saying “But I saved money at the QB position!”

    • What do you think he will end up going for? I still don’t think it ends up being a top 20 pick. I also think there’s a good chance NE just keeps him.

      • Josh Sanford

        This is not a transaction in a vacuum, to be sure. The Browns are not psychologically attached to the 12th pick. And I am sure the Pats are devious enough to ask someone for 2017 Second and a 2018 Second, too. The pressure point for the Pats is not what they ‘need’ to get for him, I think, it’s what they think that they can squeeze out of the local yokel. I’d like to think that they might keep him, but they have little reason to. If I had to pick the single most likely outcome…Browns 12th pick this year and Browns 3rd round in 2018. That’s my guess. I see you were too clever to actually guess, content instead to let us be the dumb ones.

        • Ehh

          I don’t agree with this. The Browns were the yokel before the current administration, but now they are very analytics based and highly value draft picks. They’ve clearly shown this, so I can’t see them making basic mistakes like not valuing acquired picks adequately or undervaluing picks in later years. They themselves exploited these very flaws in other teams in last years draft.

  • sacramento gold miners

    The 1990s Packers had a number of QBs who were backups to Favre, and went on to starting roles. Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselback, and Aaron Brooks come to mind. Even Kurt Warner was a Packer in training camp before getting released.

    Matt Cassell is a cautionary tale when talking about Garoppolo. Cassell had a much larger sample size, and played well in 2008, and some thought he would do well elsewhere. But he’s struggled after leaving NE.

    • Rick

      Cassell was never considered to be a QB at JG’s level. Cassell didn’t even start for USC during his college years.
      Comparing Cassell to JG makes no more sense than comparing any other arbitrary QB to JG. Yes, they both have worn Patriots’ uniforms and have backed up Tom Brady. Aside from that they have very little in common.

      • sacramento gold miners

        My comment was in context to what they did at the pro level, JG was considered a reach when the Patriots selected him. After Cassell’s 2008 season, he was pursued by other teams as a starter, but it hasn’t worked out for him. If the Cleveland Browns or anyone else is foolish enough to roll the dice on a first round pick for such a small sample size,

  • Dave

    I think Garoppolo and a maybe late round pick (5-7) is worth a first round pick. If were talking top 5 or top 10 1st round pick, then I think it’s Garoppolo and a 3rd or 4th.

    Garoppolo has been under the tutelage of Belichick and Brady for a few years. Garoppolo has NFL game experience and played well (before he made a bad decision and got flattened by Kiko Alonzo (that was dumb on Garoppolo’s part)). But he was carving the Dolphins up…

    If I were the GM of a QB needy team (Bears, Browns, Jets, Bills, Jags, Niners) I would be seriously considering trading for Garoppolo. Captain Obvious told me that Belichick won’t be trading Garoppolo to the Jets (sorry, Chase). However, Belichick has recently traded with the Bears (for M. Bennett) and the Browns (sending J. Collins), so I’d imagine that Garoppolo could really be going to a recent trade partner. I’m not so sure the Bears would part with the #3 pick though.

    Garoppolo for the Browns’ #12 pick makes a lot of sense. Maybe the Patriots need to throw in a late round pick to get it done.

    Why would the Browns trade the #12 pick? I don’t know, because they have sucked for soooo looong. Maybe it’s time they found a QB who could take them to the playoffs. Is Garoppolo the answer? He’s the best answer right now, unless the Browns think there is a better QB in the draft. But then they would have to develop a rookie QB, do you think the Browns could do that? I sure as hell don’t.

    • anti boomer

      The Browns injured 4 QBs last year. One of them twice. It does not matter who is at QB if they don’t get better protection. It seems silly to start your rebuild at QB. The Cowboys, Seahawks, and Steelers have all shown the advantage of building up a team first. Garoppolo is a value to a good team, he is smashed flat on the Browns.

    • Rick

      It’s more like JG is worth a 1st + at least one more pick. Starting QBs are not easy to find. Anybody trading for JG is doing so because he thinks he can start. With a draft class bereft of good QBs, trading for somebody who can start now isn’t a bad idea.

  • Richie

    I can’t remember if I posed this before. Belichick has a history of moving on from aging players before they bottom out. (And many times before they even really decline much.) If we disregard emotion and loyalty, isn’t the correct move here to release Tom Brady and go forward with Garoppolo (at least assuming Belichik has faith that Garoppolo is capable of being a good QB)?

    • With a $27M dead cap figure there is no way they could move on from Brady this year. IMO, the draft selection of Jacoby Brissett was designed to cover for Garoppolo if they could find a trade partner

      • Richie

        Surely there are some teams that would be willing to take on Brady’s contract in a trade.

        • Anyone would take on Bradys contract. It only pays him $1M this year. But the Patriots would take a $27M charge on their cap if they trade him. Cant see that happening under any circumstance

    • Well, that’s a pretty big assumption. There’s also the question of how much Brady has left. At this point, those are two big question marks, but I think the emotion/loyalty aspect is too large to ignore here.

      • Ehh

        Agreed. The history with Belichick is certainly there for letting guys go, but Brady is the heart of that team. Even ignoring the cap hit, I just can’t see him being that cold and calculating before there is an actual decline in the play of Brady. Planning for the future is fine and all, but you are probably the current favourite to win the SB next year with Brady.

        • Richie

          No, I don’t THINK he’ll do it either. But he has been cold and calculating with many players before.

          • Ehh

            He has for sure, but a move like that would be Belichick^2 😉

    • Rick

      ” If we disregard emotion and loyalty, isn’t the correct move here to release Tom Brady and go forward with Garoppolo”
      The correct move would be to release the Super Bowl MVP? The man who achieved a historically high QB rating at Pro Football Focus?
      Brady is not yet in decline. It could happen quickly. But it hasn’t started. The touch on his long passes actually improved this past season.
      We also need to consider the possibility that Belichick will retire when Brady does. He’s already 64. Yes, he loves coaching, but he’s also said in the past he’s unlikely to be coaching as long as Marv Levy did. If that’s his plan, he’s not going to trade Brady in the same way he’s traded veterans in the past.

      • Richie

        No, Brady is not yet in decline. But he will be 40 next season. There have only been 7 seasons in NFL history of a QB attempting 200+ passes at age 40 or over. (2 of them were Brett Favre and 3 of them were Warren Moon.) (4 at age 41+ and 1 at age 42+.)

        I realize that Brady played better at age 39 than any other QB ever had. But that season was an outlier for Brady’s career.

        He can say he wants to play until he’s 45. And maybe he will. But the odds are against him. Manning, Favre and Moon all went from Pro Bowl level to out of the league (or backup) pretty quickly.

        Banking on a player (any player) outrunning father time is a bad risk.

        If the Patriots have a potential replacement for Brady in Garropolo (and the Patriots would know best if he could be that guy), then it would be crazy to let him go with a 40-year-old starting QB.

        As Jason Fitzgerald pointed out, Brady’s contract makes him untradeable right now. So my hypothetical situation doesn’t really apply.

        While I think that Garropolo is worth trading a first round pick for (with caveats), I don’t think the Patriots will trade him. I think keeping Garropolo on their roster is in the best long-term interest of the Patriots.

        • If I were running the Patriots and felt like Garropolo was likely to be even an average starter, I would be trying to tack on a couple of years, not trade him. I would not be surprised in the slightest if Brady were suddenly toast next year, and the Patriots at this point really should be going into every season thinking that’s possible.

          And before anyone says it, no I don’t think that Brady’s love of pseudoscience and “alternative medicine” mean that he is immune from aging.

          • Richie

            I guess the main caveat is if Belichick has no intent to keep coaching when Brady retires. Then it would make sense to maximize the other non QB positions on the team.

            • Belichick still seems to be building this team as if it’s a long-term proposition, though. If he started building the team the way Elway has in Denver, then it would seem to me that he is thinking that way, but as long as he keeps building the team the way he always has, I don’t see any reason to think he’s retiring anytime soon.

              And again, I think Brady is probably far closer to done than most people think.

              • Richie

                Yeah, odds are things are going to go bad for Brady fast in the next season or two.

                Brady seems to have avoided late career injuries better than some of the other old QB’s in history. So maybe he can stretch it out a little longer. But every good season he has at 40+ is an outlier.

  • Richie

    I think he’s worth more than the 62nd pick in the draft. We still only have a 102 dropback sample size on him, so it’s tough to figure out how good he is. But he (apparently) had a late 2nd-round pedigree coming out of college. I think that pedigree means that teams think a player might be NFL caliber, but aren’t sure. A surefire QB prospect goes in the first round. His limited play has exceeded expectation I think.

    To me, that makes him worth a first rounder. And a team might have the luxury of getting to see him play in 2017 before having to give him a big contract.

    Since first round QB’s in the past decade have only about a 50% success rate, I think I would rather give up a first round pick for Garoppolo than draft a first round QB. Especially if you get that $1M cap hit in 2017. If he underwhelms, you don’t have the big cap hit.

    Though I have no idea if it’s practical to trade for him and not give him a contract extension. If I had to commit Brock Osweiler money to him, I would be less inclined to risk a first round pick.

    • Ehh

      His play has exceeded expectations, but I feel like your argument is neglecting Chase’s point that you’ve lost three of his cost controlled years. He has a very limited sample size suggesting he’s worth more than a second round grade if you were drafting him today, but you have to balance that against the contract situation. To me that means he’s still not worth a first round pick in a trade, especially when you factor in that he was playing for Belichick who made someone like Matt Cassel look like a decent QB over a full season.

      • Richie

        I think the key is if you can trade for him without having to give him a new contract. Or, at least only give him an incentive-based contract. If you have to commit new millions to him for beyond 2017, then I think his trade value decreases.

        But I think he has a better chance than an “average” first round drafted QB of being an above average QB in the NFL. I think it’s worth risking a first round pick (with no contract strings attached) to try him out for a year.

        • Ehh

          I see your point, but even if you don’t actually pay Garoppolo you’re still giving up the cost controlled years you would have if you drafted a QB, and you’re probably going to have to pay another veteran QB starter money or spend another draft pick on a QB if you drop Garoppolo.

          • Richie

            You give up cost-controlled years, but you gain a tiny bit of certainty that Garoppolo is an NFL-caliber QB.

  • AgronomyBrad

    I personally think the Browns or 49ers would be crazy to trade #1 or #2 for Jimmy G. Their rosters are pretty bare. On the other hand, I would think a team like Houston or Kansas City, with playoff-caliber defenses and solid offensive supporting casts would be better suited trading a mid to late first rounder for him. But I feel like Belichick wouldn’t let him go for that, and it seems like the NFL media and fans are driving up his value.

    • I agree that the media/fans are driving up his value. In a vacuum, his value would go down significantly three years after being drafted. He completed 43 passes this year — those were good enough to counter that? I’m pretty skeptical.

  • I wouldnt touch him. For the most part trading for a player is the same as admitting you are in love with him as a player and are going to reward him with a contract. You might be able to get some cost control similar to the Nick Foles Rams contract, but still its expensive. I think if you run a study of most of these trades (Kolb, Foles, Schaub, Whitehurst, etc…) you would see few work out. Most contract extensions for the position off small samples often dont even work out. There is a big difference between trading for a 2nd year player that you can develop for 3 years and decide on than a 4th year pro looking for a new deal.

    If you want to have fun with it go and look at some draft busts in recent years (Sanchez, Weeden, Gabbert, Ponder, etc…) and see if you can pick out 66 passes in a few games, especially in their third year, where they looked ok. If you can find that why should this be valued any differently because those GMs would have been fired if they extended those players (sadly the Jets one did in fact extend one of them).

    That said I never buy the rumor mill on pricing which generally starts with ESPN which is fueled by player agents. History has shown that hell go for a 2nd round pick probably on the later end from a team like Denver or Houston. But I still think its crazy if it comes with a contract.

    • Rick

      So your argument is that if you cherry pick your data, any QB can look good? Therefore looking at all the Garoppolo data shouldn’t matter?

  • dbqp

    As a Pats fan, I wouldn’t trade him for less than a top 10 pick. I could see taking the Browns 2nd round pick this year (#33 overall) plus their first rounder next year, or if the Niners or Bears would give up the second or third overall pick. Brady is entering uncharted territory, and from following Garoppolo closely over the last three years, my feeling is his floor is average NFL starter level (Dalton/Smith/Tannehill), and his ceiling is a top 5 QB.

    The closest equivalent to my mind is the Favre-Rodgers situation – but of course, Brady is a lot better now than Favre was then, making it pretty impossible to move on from him. I can’t help but feel that you could have made the same arguments against trading for Rodgers, if he had been available for a trade. After all, Rodgers had fewer snaps and worse stats through his first three seasons than Garoppolo does. Over his first three seasons, Rodgers averaged 3.44 ANY/A on 68 dropbacks, fumbling three times to boot. Even in his third season, his ANY/A was appreciably lower than Garoppolo’s at 6.90. Of course, Rodgers had a higher pre-draft evaluation, so that would have improved his value, and as a first rounder, he would be under contract for another year. (I don’t expect Garoppolo to ever reach Rodgers’ level of course.) Still, trading for a backup QB is always a leap of faith.

    In the 2008 draft, there actually was a great QB in Matt Ryan. I think you could argue it would be better to have Matt Ryan for 30M over 5 years than Rodgers for 70M over 5 years, but I think most people would be okay with spending those extra 40M on Rodgers. As far as I hear, none of the QBs in this year’s draft are close to Matt Ryan in talent level, making the calculation even more lopsided. What would happen if you weren’t going to pick a QB in the first round anyway? Would you rather have Jake Long or Chris Long for five years or Rodgers for one or two?

    If I were a team like the Texans or the Bears, I’d be willing to bet the farm on Garoppolo. The upside far outweighs the cost, IMO. If I’m a team like the Browns or 49ers, maybe I don’t think I can turn around the franchise in the next few years and I’m okay developing a raw guy for a few years. OTOH, if I’m the Browns, I probably have another top 5 pick next season anyway, so risking a high pick on Garoppolo isn’t the end of the world.

  • If I were running a team, I would base my evaluation of him almost entirely on what my scouts said coming out of college. 66 dropbacks really isn’t enough to learn anything about anyone. Therefore, I would value him lower than his draft position because of losing those cost-controlled seasons. Not only did we just lose what would be valuable years, we’ve only got one year at most to evaluate him before we have to give him a contract (and in reality, I highly doubt any team would take him and not immediately give him a new deal).

    If one were to think those dropbacks really showed Garropolo’s talent, shouldn’t the injury also be a sign that he won’t be able to stay healthy? I really think making either of those assumptions is silly, but it seems like if you make one you should be making the other.

    Someone is going to trade more than a late 2 for him, and if he turns out to be an above average starter, they’re going to be very happy to have done it. However, it really shouldn’t be a shock if someone trades for him and he turns into Matt Flynn 2.0.