The New England Patriots have bigger things on their mind than building their team for next season, but they’re not neglecting it completely, already letting the quarterback-needy teams around the league that Jimmy Garoppolo is going to be very expensive to get via trade.

The Patriots backup quarterback didn’t do anything too outstanding in his two starts this season, but overall posted nice numbers with four touchdowns and 0 interceptions, completing 68.3% of his throws and posting a 113.3 passer rating. Garoppolo’s injury slightly ruined his opportunity to show what he can do for a month during Tom Brady’s suspension, but even before making his first start, the Patriots knew he was going to be in demand heading into 2017.

So what are they going to ask in return for the 25-year old, who played his college football for Eastern Illinois? The Patriots are setting the bar at what the Minnesota Vikings gave up for Sam Bradford at the beginning of the season after Teddy Bridgewater went down with a season-ending injury (which could also be a career-ending injury). A first and fourth round pick for a quarterback with 94 career passing attempts and two starts.

Who knows, maybe someone will bite? The need for quarterbacks is great, and it doesn’t feel like this draft is going to provide immediate solutions like Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz gave the Cowboys and the Eagles. The Patriots aren’t that keen on letting Garoppolo go as he enters the final year of his rookie contract, but if they’ll get a handsome dowry for him, it’ll be difficult saying no. Jacoby Brissett did OK in his starting opportunities, and yet the Pats are 100% confident about him serving as Brady’s primary backup; at least not right now.

And of course Garoppolo provides good insurance for Brady. While the oldest starting QB in the NFL doesn’t seem like age is taking its toll, he will be 40 when next season begins. Garoppolo might not be too happy to wait another year for his shot to become the team’s full-time starting quarterback, but it’s in the Patriots interest to position themselves with the best fallback option, especially one that costs only $1.1 million in 2017, a cap hit that they’re more than willing to take.

How does this end? The Patriots probably check the market to gauge the price on Garoppolo’s head before making a decision. There are quite a few teams in need of a starting quarterback without a better in-house solution. Tony Romo is obviously the biggest name on the market, but he’ll also be a trade, has a huge salary and a past filled with injuries. Garoppolo might be the next best QB, although this could be another Matt Flynn situation.

The Patriots have a big game or two to play before the 2016 season is officially over for them, and then it’s a short while before the next season transaction period begins. But there are people in the organization already trying to figure out how 2017 and beyond is going to look like. Garoppolo could be more useful in landing them draft picks than waiting around to replace Tom Brady one day.

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