How each NFL deadline trade affects playoff race

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 01: Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald
GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 01: Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald /
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FOXBORO, MA – OCTOBER 29: Jimmy Garoppolo
FOXBORO, MA – OCTOBER 29: Jimmy Garoppolo /

The Jimmy Garoppolo deal

Trade parameters: The New England Patriots sent quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a second round choice in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Plenty of column inches will be posted over the next 24-48 hours about Jimmy Garoppolo and the Patriots approach to the NFL’s trade deadline. But for our purposes, it’s important to focus on one overlooked aspect to all of this: the Patriots have went to the most secure to the most fragile at the NFL’s single most important position in a matter of weeks.

At the beginning of this season, the New England Patriots not only had the greatest quarterback of all time (let’s be honest) but they also were set at No. 2 and No. 3 on the depth chart. No other team could make this claim like the Pats and it wasn’t long until the Patriots decided to cash in those chips for future assets. NFL contracts have a way of forcing hands from time to time.

Fast forward to November and Jacoby Brissett is starting games for the Indianapolis Colts and Jimmy Garoppolo will soon do the same for the San Francisco 49ers. That means the Patriots is one injury away from going with an unknown. The likelihood of a veteran signing coming soon is obvious and the Pats won’t head into Sunday’s game without a back-up option. But that option, for the first time, won’t be a homegrown product already steeped in the playbook.

In next year’s draft, the Patriots will draft another Garoppolo and keep him on the bench for a few years to study behind the game’s best. But for now, in a league where anything goes, the most important storyline no one is mentioning is that the Patriots are less prepared now for a Tom Brady injury than ever before. With eight games to go before the playoffs even begin, it means the Pats themselves are vulnerable. Belichick is rolling the dice with this one.