No matter how good Jimmy Garoppolo was going to be in his 4 (now down to potentially 3 or 2) starts for the New England Patriots, he was always going to return to the bench once Tom Brady’s suspension ended. However, a player who showed he has what it takes to start at quarterback for an NFL team isn’t going to wait around forever. Brock Osweiler didn’t, and at least financially, it worked out fine, not that the Denver Broncos are complaining.
Garoppolo completed 70% of his passes, throwing 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in his 2 starts for the Patriots, before going down with an arm injury in the win over the Miami Dolphins, which means the Patriots will start third-string quarterback and rookie Jacoby Brissett. Garoppolo is expected to miss the game against the Texans, but will probably be available for week 4 and the Patriots game against the Buffalo Bills. Healthy or not, in week 5, when Brady returns, Garoppolo goes back to the bench.
And while there are rumors of the Patriots pressing Garoppolo to get back as soon as possible (maybe too soon?) because for now they’re not signing another backup quarterback, it’s worth remembering that Brady is signed through the 2019 season. Even if he’s 42, the Patriots aren’t going to start anyone else while Brady is healthy. Garoppolo is a free agent at the end of this season, and knowing he has to wait three more seasons to start might push him away from the Pats.
It’s similar to the Osweiler situation in Denver this offseason. In the middle of the season Gary Kubiak benched Peyton Manning for both playing terrible and an injury, giving Osweiler the chance to start for the Broncos. He played well while the defense did most of the work, but in the final game of the season he was benched in favor of Manning, who took over just as the playoffs came around. The Broncos had nothing to complain about: Despite not playing exceptionally well, Manning helped the Broncos to a Super Bowl win, their first in 17 years. The Broncos expected him to retire and open the way for Osweiler.
However, the former Arizona State QB had other things in mind. He decided the moment he was benched that it’s over for him in Denver. He signed with the Houston Texans on a $72 million, four-year deal, so it’s safe to say financially, leaving worked out for him. The Texans have won their first two games with Osweiler at the helm, although his performances haven’t been exactly consistent or too good.
Interestingly, the Texans are the next opponents for the Patriots. Garoppolo isn’t going to play, unless Belichick is trying to fool everyone, although it doesn’t hurt the narrative of the parallels between the two situations. A different case study is Matt Cassel, who came in for Brady in the 2008 season, when the Patriots missed the playoffs. Cassel went on to play for other teams, and even made the playoffs with the Kansas City Chiefs, but overall, his career as a starting quarterback has been underwhelming at best.