Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco 49ers in 2017
The Jimmy Garoppolo trade in 2017 was a highly debated decision and remains that way almost six years later.
At the time, the Patriots were fresh off their fifth Super Bowl win, led by an iconic comeback by Tom Brady and an explosive offense. It was their second Lombardi in three years, and there didn't appear to be an end in sight to the team's incredible run.
Although there was a belief that Brady was nearing the end of his career, despite how well he was still playing, he was nowhere near hanging up his cleats. In fact, he went on to win another Super Bowl, another league MVP and was selected to another Pro Bowl with the Patriots.
Knowing now how long Brady remained the quarterback, trading Garoppolo doesn't look like such a bad decision in hindsight. But at the same time, when Brady left the team for Tampa Bay just three years later, the Patriots found themselves in a tough position with literally no plan of how to replace him.
At the time, they only had Jarrett Stidham on the roster, who had no shot at becoming the starting quarterback and signed Cam Newton halfway through the summer to take over under center. The following season was unremarkable, putting the Patriots in a position to draft their presumed next franchise quarterback, Mac Jones, in the 2021 draft.
Besides the Garoppolo trade leaving them with no options at quarterback when Brady left, the second-round pick they received in return didn't add much to its value.
Because they ultimately traded the pick they acquired into multiple other picks, they were able to use the several added picks over the next few drafts. It totaled eight selections through the 2020 draft, but only Damien Harris became an integral part of the team.
All of it together makes the trade seem worse and worse. Had the pick turned into a game-changing player, or they were better prepared to handle a Brady-less offense, perhaps trading Garoppolo wouldn't be considered one of the worst under Belichick. But nothing positive really came from the move, making it difficult not to label it a wrong decision.