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The New England Patriots have to find the next Jimmy Garoppolo.

Patriots need plan to move past Jimmy Garoppolo trade in offseason

Ryan Wooden

After being sent to the San Francisco 49ers for a second-round pick just before the trade deadline, Jimmy Garoppolo almost instantly has cemented himself as the future of the franchise at quarterback and created some seller’s remorse for the New England Patriots.

New England didn’t have many options. Putting the franchise tag on Garoppolo would have forced the Patriots to sink more than $30 million into the position and would have been only a temporary solution with Tom Brady indicating that he might want to play until he’s 45.

Keeping Garoppolo around for that long and forcing him to sit on the bench even as he entered his prime wasn’t viable unless Garoppolo was willing to wait and offer the Patriots a discount. So they had to trade him. The only thing they could have done differently would have been to trade him in the offseason.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that a potentially great player got away for far too little. And because we don’t truly know how long Brady plans on playing, there’s still the issue of succession.

The Patriots can do a lot to ease that pain in the offseason by finding a developmental quarterback that gives them some security in the event of a Brady decline or sudden retirement. And the extra second-round pick that they landed in the Garoppolo trade or their own pick late in the first round (because of the fifth-year option) might help them land that player.

Drafting a quarterback when you’re not picking early in the draft is difficult, but the Patriots’ success with Garoppolo will give fans the confidence that the scouting department can identify another player with potential.

And what’s most important is that they identify quickly once they get that next quarterback into the building whether he can handle the job. Because if Brady plays for another five years, they can take two or three stabs before they need to get it right.

There’s no sense in trying to name names at this point because you couldn’t have tabbed Garoppolo to be such an incredible prospect at this time in 2013 (he was a 2014 pick). But if the post-Brady transition is going to be smooth, it’s important that the Patriots begin taking those steps now and put the Garoppolo trade behind him.