Last week, Adam Schefter said that the starting point for a Jimmy Garoppolo trade is a 1st and 4th round pick. The stories about this largely focused on the “high asking price” and whether it was too pricey.
When thinking about it from the perspective of a team needing a quarterback, though, it’s a matter of using that first round pick on Garoppolo or another guy coming out of college. The only additional compensation factors are that 4th round pick (or whatever would be part of the deal), and negotiating a new deal with Garoppolo that would be higher than what you likely pay someone under the rookie wage scale (but, if done before he starts, probably way less than the top of the market).
So really, it comes down to this: do you think Jimmy Garoppolo will be as good or better than one of the guys coming out of college this year?
Garoppolo was a 2nd round pick, has been backing up Tom Brady, and becomes a free agent after next year. Unless Brady gets hurt or falls off a cliff next season, Garoppolo would be signing elsewhere in a year, so this is probably the offseason that New England needs to make a move, or stick with Garoppolo as a transition plan away from Brady.
He’s also 7 months younger than Derek Carr and just 13 months older than last year’s 2nd overall pick, Carson Wentz, for whom the Eagles gave up multiple picks.
He’s only started two games but averaged 8.0 yards per attempt in those games, and has been the second-stringer, so he’s not a failure. Knowing his history makes him more likely to be successful than a random 2nd round pick, even with limited starts. He’s probably worth a first rounder alone, based on just his age, his pre-draft evaluation, and play in limited reps that shows he is not a bum.
Let’s look at history, also, to see if Jimmy Garoppolo-type players are worth that price. Last week, I went through the history of trades for quarterbacks using first round picks, and some of it is ugly.
To qualify, I found guys that began their careers with one franchise, were acquired by another, and had started 16 or fewer games at the time they moved. I included guys that were acquired to compete for a starting job (and not just those that moved elsewhere as a backup and later started).
Here are the names of guys between age 25 and 28 (Garoppolo is 25 and will turn 26 next season) going back 30 years, from a search of starters on pro-football-reference.com.
That list has plenty of busts (Osweiler looks like he is joining them) and may not look all that impressive on first glance.
If I can adapt Winston Churchill’s quote (“Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others”), I would say that trading for an unproven backup who has had limited reps, stayed in the league, and showed a little something in preseason and a few games is the worst solution at the position, except all the others.
I looked at how those players did over the next five seasons after changing teams, and compared it to the first five seasons for first round picks. Here are the results.
First overall picks are obviously the way to go, if there is a clear franchise type guy. But even some of those first overall picks were forced cases of need, because not everyone is Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, or Andrew Luck. This year, there is not a slam-dunk choice.
The Garoppolo type players actually played as well as the first overall picks in the first five years (slightly more above average passing seasons, similar elite seasons) but the hit rate longer term is higher for franchise guys with the top pick.
But, that’s not really true after you get outside the top 5. Among all quarterbacks drafted in the first round outside the top 5, the Garoppolo types were a much better investment, far more likely to start, more than twice as likely to play well, and have elite seasons. (Feel free to peruse the quarterbacks who have been drafted in the first round (outside the top pick) since 1990).
Even compared to quarterbacks drafted 2nd to 5th, the success rate over the next five years was much better for the Garoppolo’s.
When people talk about the high cost of a first round pick, I think it’s important to look at how those picks turn out. There’s a legitimate case that Garoppolo is a better prospect, and still young enough, to outperform anyone drafted in 2017. Cleveland has that extra pick from the Philadelphia trade, and one option is to go best available at #1, and trade the 12th pick for Garoppolo. His chance of success is probably higher than what they could draft in that position.