INDIANAPOLIS – The Patriots will still trade Jimmy Garoppolo if the offer is right, a league source told cleveland.com.
“Everything is still on the table,” the source said.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Patriots will not trade their backup quarterback, and that it wasn’t a tactic to get teams to up the ante.
“They love Jimmy Garoppolo,” Schefter said on SportsCenter. “They’re holding onto Jimmy Garoppolo. They view him as somebody they want around. They know the value of quarterbacks and they’re not in the market of getting rid of 25-year-old quarterbacks even if they have a year left on their contract. Jimmy Garoppolo is not going to be traded.”
Bill Belichick’s close friend and associate Mike Lombardi, the former Browns general manager, also tweeted, “this is not about increasing his value, this is the player being good, really good.”
But the source insists coach Bill Belichick will part with Garoppolo if the compensation is right. One preliminary “offer” has already been floated and another is expected to come soon from a second team.
Nothing is expected to happen at the NFL Combine, although some discussions might take place. The Patriots will likely want a first-round pick and more.
The Browns and 49ers are two teams interested, and the Bears could be too. Those teams have the first three picks, respectively. The Browns also have the No. 12. Garoppolo will be a free agent after next season, and the Patriots would likely have to franchise him at more than $22 million for 2018 to keep him — as Tom Brady’s backup.
If the Browns can’t land Garoppolo, they’ll see if Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor becomes a free agent on March 11. If those two options fall through, they’ll likely make an offer for Bengals backup AJ McCarron, who wants to be traded and would love to be reunited with Hue Jackson, who coached him in Cincinnati.
The Bengals would likely want at least a second-round pick, one source said, and wouldn’t rule out trading within the division.
“We’ll listen to whatever anyone is thinking,” said Bengals director of personnel Duke Tobin. “We’re not actively looking to diminish our football team by trading AJ McCarron and that diminishes our football team. It has to be something we feel is valuable enough to warrant doing that. What it is, I don’t know. Who it is to, I don’t know.
“It’s not ideal to trade guys within your division, particularly at that position. But we listen and if something comes up we’ll certainly announce it to all you guys.”
The Browns are also seriously considering North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky with the No. 1 pick, and are interested in Deshaun Watson.
Coach Hue Jackson stressed Thursday that the club is doing everything possible to find a winning quarterback.