1. The Patriots often have leverage at the negotiating table, but this was a rare situation where they didn’t. Garoppolo, who was scheduled for unrestricted free agency after the season and who wants a chance to start, had little incentive to sign a contract extension with the team at this time. So while the Patriots’ preference would have been to keep Garoppolo on a short-term deal, they had a decision to make: Ride out the year with Garoppolo and get a 2019 compensatory draft pick (likely at the end of the third round, around pick 97) or trade him now for a 2018 second-round pick (likely at the top of the round, in the pick 33 to 38 range). Tuesday’s trade deadline was the breaking point to make that decision.
2. Part of what made the situation unique from a business perspective is that Tom Brady and Garoppolo share the same agent, Don Yee. That contributed to the low-leverage dynamic for the Patriots.
3. Expect veteran Brian Hoyer to return to New England as the other quarterback domino to fall, as he would fill the team’s No. 2 spot behind Brady. Nothing can happen until Hoyer is officially released by the 49ers, but it’s hard to imagine the Patriots would have made the deal without assurance that Hoyer would be coming aboard. Hoyer, who has remained close friends with Brady, isn’t subject to waivers. The Patriots had released him at the final cutdown in 2012, which was the year Josh McDaniels returned to the team as offensive coordinator after two seasons as head coach in Denver (2009 and 2010) and one as offensive coordinator with the Rams (2011).
4. A significant part of what made Garoppolo an attractive franchise quarterback option for the 49ers was how he was groomed mostly behind the scenes from a top-notch Patriots coaching staff, alongside Brady, for three-plus years. The Patriots now have solid 2018 draft capital -- headlined by a first-round pick, two second-rounders and a third-rounder -- to potentially select a young quarterback similar to Garoppolo to groom in 2018, 2019 and perhaps beyond. Some analysts believe 2018 has a strong quarterback class.
5. The Patriots are clearly banking on Brady continuing to play at a high level at age 41, 42 and possibly beyond. Some might say they are leading with their heart, as this move shows that choosing Garoppolo over Brady in 2018 wasn't a strong consideration, despite media-based speculation otherwise. The connection between Brady, ownership and the coaching staff is a rare one, and this once again shines a spotlight on it.
6. The Patriots potentially could have created a richer market for Garoppolo had they shown more of a willingness to trade him this past offseason. But at that point, they might have felt better about the odds of re-signing him. So, did the club misread where the situation was headed? Or was it shrewd to hold on to a high-level insurance policy for eight games, get a better feel for how the 40-year-old Brady would respond and then cash in? Arguments could be made on both sides.
7. Would the Patriots still have traded quarterback Jacoby Brissett to the Colts in early September if they knew this was going to be the end result? They probably would have, as some believed his development with the team had hit a stagnant point, but it’s timely to revisit that decision in light of the Garoppolo trade. As coach Bill Belichick said the night the Patriots drafted Garoppolo in 2014, “I think you’re better off being early rather than late at that position." He had also said, "In our organization, I don't think we would put together a team the way Indianapolis did it [in 2011] when they lost [Peyton] Manning and they go [2-14]. I don't think that's really what we're looking for. Unfortunately, when we lost Tom in 2008, we had a player [Matt Cassel] that could step in, and we won 11 games. We want to be competitive even if something happens to a player at any position. I think depth is always important. You never know when you're going to need it. But I don't think we'd be happy going [2-14] if we had an injury at one position. Other people have different philosophies. I'm just saying that the contrast to that example, I don't think that's really what we're trying to do."
8. Keeping Garoppolo in the offseason on the franchise tag, which projected to be in the range of $22 million, obviously wasn’t deemed tenable to the Patriots. To do so, they would have been paying Garoppolo nearly double what Brady was set to earn ($14 million base salary), which could have been viewed as a show of disrespect to Brady, who has regularly structured his contracts in a way that helps the team build a more complete roster.
9. Why not tag Garoppolo and then try to trade him? The Patriots did that with Cassel in 2009. Taking that approach would have required some contract restructurings, potentially affecting the ability to sign other free agents, while also creating a situation with lower leverage. There was always the possibility that a trade partner couldn’t be found, and then the Patriots would have been tied to Garoppolo being on the roster on the tag.
10. As of late Monday night, Garoppolo had yet to depart for San Francisco. Those close to him described his emotions as a mix of surprise, excitement and sadness, with the latter a result of leaving behind many close friends from the only NFL team for which he has played.