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Peter King : Patriots QB is not for trade

While it might seem like a forgone conclusion that New England Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will be traded during the off-season, at least one prominent NFL writer begs to differ.

Peter King for Sport Illustrated’s The MMQB admits he has not broached the subject with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, but he put himself on Belichick’s shoes. His conclusion: Garoppolo might be worth more to New England than a first-round draft choice or a package of picks.

King understands the premise as well as anybody. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady intends to play for another five years, and having just won another Super Bowl, the tendency is to believe he can. Meanwhile, Garoppolo — a second-round selection in 2014 — becomes a free agent in 2018, likely making this New England’s last shot at a trade.

Still, King sees the downside, and more importantly, he believes Belichick will, too.

“But there are two problems with this logic, as I see it,” King writes. “And understand, I have not spoken with Belichick about this; it is a simple reading of the tea leaves knowing the way Belichick could be looking at it. One: In the 17 seasons since the Patriots drafted Brady, Garoppolo has to be the first man Belichick looks at and thinks can be the Patriots’ quarterback for the next decade. He’s smart, makes good decisions, has shown (admittedly in a very brief window last September) that he can beat quality opponents. Two: The Patriots do the most with lesser prospects of any team in recent league history. If you’ve got a starting quarterback about to turn 40, regardless of his incredible good health and fitness, whatever Brady gives the Patriots now is a bonus. If I’m Belichick, I’m thinking: I’d rather have a quarterback on my roster who I know can win January games in 2017 then go without him and have a first-round pick instead.”

It’s a fair point, to a degree. The issue becomes, should the Patriots hold on to Garoppolo, and Brady’s performance won’t fall off a cliff next season, his backup skates anyway.

Sure, the Patriots would almost certainly receive a compensatory draft pick for Garoppolo, although that maxes out at a third, as opposed to the first-round pick and more the 25-year-old might net in a swap. And while it’s possible for New England to extend Garoppolo with the promise of being the quarterback of the future, there’s no telling what that would cost or what could happen once he reaches the open market.

While ideally Belichick probably would like to hang on to Garoppolo, there’s a reason why a trade was forecast. Simply put, unless Garoppolo is OK with sitting on the bench for a few more years, plus taking a salary that reflects that, his future is really out of the Patriots’ hands.