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Five Patriots/NFL Things to Know 3/10

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
March 10, 2021 at 10:00 am ET

Five Patriots/NFL Things to Know 3/10(PHOTO: Bob DeChiara - USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 5 minutes

1) Out in San Francisco they’re obviously aware of the speculation surrounding Jimmy Garoppolo here in New England and they’re apparently not impressed with some of the scenarios being thrown around about a potential trade for him.

USA TODAY 49ers writer Kyle Madson falls into that category, as Madson especially didn’t think much of Mike Reiss’ scenario from Sunday.

Reiss wondered if a second-round pick or even cornerback Stephon Gilmore would be enough to get a deal done, which Madson didn’t agree with.

From the article:

A second-round pick probably wouldn’t be enough for the 49ers to outright move on from Garoppolo, unless they knew they had a trade worked out for Deshaun Watson or to move up for one of the top QB prospects in this year’s draft.

The more head-scratching suggestion is the Gilmore for Garoppolo swap. San Francisco does need cornerback help, and Gilmore is only one year removed from winning a Defensive Player of the Year award, but he’s not the type of player the 49ers are going to add in exchange for their quarterback.

One of Madson’s issues with Gilmore is the fact that he only has one year left on his contract, which would likely mean San Francisco would also need to extend him in order for the trade to make sense.

He also believes that while the 49ers have needs at cornerback, they’re not desperate enough to make a trade for a 31-year-old player in exchange for a QB he believes the team is “fine with moving forward.”  In fact, he believes the team would probably prefer the second-round pick given the choice between the two, and he also feels they still wouldn’t do the deal if New England included both options.

But the most important factor Madson points out is that a trade can’t happen until San Francisco has a contingency in place that gives them an upgrade over Garoppolo.  While he believes an eventual trade with New England isn’t far-fetched, that remains the priority before a deal could happen.

2) Speaking of Gilmore,’s Albert Breer reports that the veteran defensive back’s quad injury is apparently complicating his potential trade market.

Given that reworking his deal and extending him is going to be necessary for any new team that was to acquire him, the fact that he’ll miss the offseason programs and possibly part of training camp is apparently a concern.

According to CBS Sports, there’s not a lot of detail behind these rumors, other than the fact Tyler Sullivan believes that his asking price has likely dipped.  The initial reports during the season seemed to indicate a first-round pick would be what the Patriots could be asking for, but he believes Gilmore’s current health situation will likely bring that down.

3) Meanwhile, speculation has swirled about Sam Darnold possibly being an option for San Francisco if they were to move Garoppolo, Sacramento Bee and 49ers beat writer Chris Biderman didn’t mince words in the latest Candlestick Chronicles podcast he records with Madson.

“Sam Darnold stinks,” said Biderman.  “Here’s my process.  So when I decided that Sam Darnold stunk, I said, ‘I should probably look into this.’  So naturally, I start with numbers to make sure there’s something I’m not missing, or see if there’s some context I’m missing there.  And then I go and I pull up Gamepass and I go watch the Jets.  I don’t watch every Jets game, but I pull up some offensive possessions and I watch, and I watch some touchdown drives, I watch the turnovers and this and that…Sam Darnold is just not very good.”

“I understand the argument that he’s with the Jets and that organization is a dumpster fire, I understand all of that.  But check this out.  Sam Darnold, 6.6 yards per attempt in three years, 59.8% completion rate, that’s in 38 games.  Since 2000, six quarterbacks have done that in their first three seasons, Joey Harrington, Eli Manning, Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford, Blake Bortles and Darnold.  That’s not great company.”

“My whole thought is, if there’s a level he’s going to get to above where he’s been because I think he can be better than he’s been, is his ceiling higher than what Garoppolo is going to give you?  I don’t think it is.”

Those of us who see Darnold twice a season certainly agree.  He hasn’t lived up to his expectations and it remains to be seen if a change of scenery would help him.  It’s also hard not to argue that Garoppolo is the better player as his track record has certainly proven that.

Needless to say, Darnold is likely not the “upgrade” the 49ers would need to make a move and it was interesting to hear how they feel about him out there.

Butler will be a free agent this offseason.

4) The Tennessee Titans are apparently parting ways with former Patriots defensive back Malcolm Butler, which will now make him a free agent.

The Titans are letting Butler go in a salary cap move that will reportedly save the club more than $10 million in cap space, which comes despite the fact the former Super Bowl hero still has two years remaining in his contract.

That’s probably the bigger surprise because it probably means they didn’t come to him about restructuring or extending him, which you would think Butler would have wanted to do rather than having to change teams.  Then again, we don’t know what his relationship is like with the coaches or if there were other factors involved.  But it’s certainly curious, to say the least.

He’s spent three seasons in Tennessee since leaving the Patriots.  He had a rough first couple of campaigns, struggling in his first season in 2018, and was injured in 2019 after fracturing his wrist.  2020 went better for him, as he returned and played all 16 games, finishing with 14 passes defended and four interceptions.

A return to New England probably seems unlikely, as his production this past season will probably end with a fairly good payday.  Most will remember that money was the driving factor behind his split from the Patriots, although his mysterious benching in Super Bowl LII likely didn’t help matters.

Either way, his tenure in Tennessee is over and he’ll be looking for work heading into 2021.

5) Seth Galina of Pro Football Focus published his list of “perfect fit” free agents for all 32 teams a few days ago and I think I’m going to need a minute after reading who it was.

Good grief.

Galina writes that quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jameis Winston are the two players who make the most sense, with Winston being the best option.

If it’s Fitzpatrick, then it’s a stopgap until they find their next true quarterback. With Winston, Bill Belichick might believe he can be the one who molds him into a real NFL quarterback.

The tools are already there. Winston finished fourth in big-time throws in 2019 with 31, but he also led the league in turnover-worthy plays with 40. Someone is going to pay big money to try to fix this man.

I think I made my opinion fairly clear when it comes to Winston, as he’ll drive Belichick crazy with turnovers and I don’t feel like even Josh McDaniels can fix him.  As much as I hate to say it, I’d probably even take Cam Newton over Winston if that’s what it came down to.

The Patriots finished 7-9 with Newton and were at least close to winning a few games last season, which could have seen them flip that to 9-7 or 10-6.  I don’t know if they’d even get that option with Winston at the helm.  Honestly, if Newton could throw the ball the way he did in the first two games, they’d probably be fine.

But watching Winston week-to-week would be maddening.  That’s not to say he might not ultimately be New England’s best option if everything else fails but even then, I’d have to favor bringing Newton back and stay that course until the true long-term answer for them becomes available.

Unfortunately, with free agency approaching, some clarity with this situation will definitely need to happen sooner rather than later as they attempt to rebuild this team again heading into 2021.

MORSE: Trading Season, Pro Days and Morse’s Morsels

About Ian Logue

Ian Logue is a Seacoast native and owner and senior writer for, an independent media site covering the New England Patriots and has been running this site in one form or another since 1997.

Tags: Cam Newton Deshaun Watson Houston Texans Jameis Winston Jimmy Garoppolo Malcolm Butler New England Patriots New York Jets Ryan Fitzpatrick Sam Darnold San Francisco 49ers Stephon Gilmore Tennessee Titans

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