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- ESPN has published a bombshell report on a rift between Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft.
- The rift is said to have led to Kraft ordering Belichick to trade Brady’s heir-apparent, Jimmy Garoppolo, in a deal that shocked the NFL world.
- While Belichick wanted to prepare for the future, Kraft seemingly was showing he was still committed to Brady.
- The Patriots received just a second-round pick for Garoppolo, a deal that appears to have intentionally been better for the San Francisco 49ers and Garoppolo than for the Patriots.
The New England Patriots shocked the NFL world in October when they traded backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers.
The deal was stunning because Tom Brady had just turned 40 and Garoppolo was seen as a more-than-adequate heir-apparent to the throne. The move also raised eyebrows because it left the Patriots without a backup quarterback as they had traded Jacoby Brissett to the Indianapolis Colts prior to the season.
But maybe the most shocking aspect of the deal was that the Patriots only received a second-round pick for a quarterback many felt was a sure-thing to be a future franchise quarterback.
According to a new bombshell report from Seth Wickersham of ESPN, owner Robert Kraft ordered head coach Bill Belichick to trade Garoppolo as part of a power struggle within the organization, and Belichick took a lesser deal designed more to help the young quarterback than his own team.
According to the report, the trade happened after a series of meetings between Brady, Belichick, and Kraft.
Wickersham reports that Brady first met with Belichick to discuss extending his career, but that Belichick was “skeptical” of giving a 40-year-old quarterback a long-term contract.
Belichick then reportedly met with Kraft prior to the trade deadline, a meeting that went much longer than expected. According to Wickersham, Kraft demanded that Garoppolo be traded, something that is said to have left Belichick “furious and demoralized.”
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Belichick then hand-picked the 49ers as a trade partner, according to Wickersham, rather than seek out the best deal for the Patriots. Belichick was fond of Mike Shanahan, the father of new 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, for his coaching ability and because the former NFL head coach had stood up for Belichick during the “Spygate” scandal. Belichick also believed that Garoppolo would “excel under Shanahan,” according to Wickersham.
According to the report, Belichick simply called up Shanahan and offered him Garoppolo for a second-round pick. It was a such a steal, Wickersham said Patriots staffers were “stunned and confused.”
This jibes with an earlier report from NFL insider Adam Schefter whose speculation now sounds more concrete. Schefter was a guest on the “Murph and Mac” radio show and said the Patriots could have gotten a better deal somewhere else, but chose not to.
“The Cleveland Browns had been calling the Patriots last spring over and over,” Schefter said. “They tried, apparently, this fall, and never got to first base with them … As much respect as the Patriots have for Jimmy Garoppolo, they wanted to place him in a place that they thought would treat him the way that they thought he should be treated, and that was the 49ers.”
After the deal, Brady seemed rejuvenated. From Wickersham:
“Brady, though, seemed liberated. Kraft hugged Brady when he saw him that week, in full view of teammates. A few days later during practice, some players and staffers noticed that Brady seemed especially excited, hollering and cajoling. Brady was once again the team’s present and future. His new backup, Brian Hoyer, was a longtime friend and not a threat. The owner was in Brady’s corner. ‘He won,’ a Patriots staffer says.”
In the end, Kraft and Brady may have gotten what they wanted, but it was the 49ers who got the better end of the deal.