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Digesting the drama in New England, and its connection to the Browns

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A little more insight as to why the Cleveland Browns were caught off guard by the Patriots dealing Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers.

NFL: AFC Championship-Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday night, we started hearing that ESPN was set to release a report on Friday morning about dissension among the New England Patriots and how this might be the final year that the trio of Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady are together. I chuckled when I first saw it, assuming it was a joke. It wasn’t.

You can go over to ESPN now and read all about what has been simmering with the Patriots. I will summarize a few key points:

Film Room Berating

Historically, Brady has always been a good soldier for Belichick. Even though he was an elite quarterback in the NFL, he would still always take the brutal ripping from his head coach in Monday film room sessions that were in front of the whole team. This year, though, the article says that Brady is less OK with being ripped constantly. “Brady has noted to staff a few times this year that, no matter how many game-changing throws he makes, Belichick hasn’t awarded him Patriot of the Week all year.”

Training Issues

Much of the issues start to stem from Brady’s trainer, body coach and business partner Alex Guerrero. Guerrero ran a TB12 clinic and used to have extensive access to the Patriots’ sideline, training room, etc. despite not being an official team employee. As time went on and Brady started harping on his training methods as opposed to team training methods, other players began to feel pressure: do we train/rehab with the team’s trainers (which Belichick preferred), or with Guerrero to get on Brady’s good side? Eventually, Guerrero’s team access was rescinded, but the predicament for players still remains.

Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Tom Brady

This is where Kraft comes into play. Brady has been pressing Kraft on how he still wants to play into his 40s, but it seems like he felt a little concern that Garoppolo was being groomed to replace him. According to the article, Belichick was enamored with Garoppolo. The team was offering him 4-year extensions worth $17-$18 million annually, an amount that would go even higher once he became the starter.

This explains why we kept hearing last offseason that no matter what the Cleveland Browns offered the Patriots, they weren’t going to trade him. It’s because Belichick “began to see Garoppolo as the final piece of his legacy.” The article states that “If we trade Jimmy, we’re the Cleveland Browns, with no succession plan.”

Two weeks before the November 1st trade deadline, Belichick met with Kraft to discuss the quarterback situation. The meeting reportedly lasted half the day, and Belichick “was furious and demoralized” because Kraft gave him the mandate to trade Garoppolo.

Now, it may be hard to believe that Belichick can have a soft spot, but given the circumstances, it sounded like he didn’t give a shit about “getting the best deal” for Garoppolo. Instead, he wanted to put him in the best situation possible -- and, perhaps one in which he believed the young quarterback could win now, as a way to stick it to Kraft. Belichick always respected the Shanahans, so he sought them out and offered them Garoppolo. Done deal.

The Aftermath

I will quote this paragraph in full, highlighting Brady’s reaction right after Garoppolo was dealt:

Brady, though, seemed liberated. Kraft hugged Brady when he saw him that week, in full view of teammates. A few days later during practice, some players and staffers noticed that Brady seemed especially excited, hollering and cajoling. Brady was once again the team’s present and future. His new backup, Brian Hoyer, was a longtime friend and not a threat. The owner was in Brady’s corner. “He won,” a Patriots staffer says.

Now that the regular season is over, the article says that Belichick has taken pride in Garoppolo’s 5-0 record “and the fact that Kraft has confessed to people in the building that trading Garoppolo might have been a mistake.”

Opportunity for the Browns?

The article also repeatedly expresses how many wonder if this could be it for Belichick in New England. He will likely be losing his offensive and defensive coordinators to head coaching jobs, as well as other assistants. The article also says that Belichick is actually helping these guys find other work, something he hasn’t always done. Is it possible that Belichick...walks away from the Patriots after this year?

On local sports radio this morning, it made for great discussion (in fantasy land, so suspend belief for a bit) to wonder if the Browns should try to trade the No. 1 overall pick for either Brady or Belichick. I think the writing on the wall says that Brady is staying put, but the first overall pick would be enticing to New England to draft the next “quarterback of their future” to sit until Brady really is ready to hang it up.

What do you think of the whole situation, Browns fans?

Poll

Would you trade the Browns’ No. 1 overall pick in 2018 for Tom Brady or Bill Belichick?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Yes, for Tom Brady
    (73 votes)
  • 44%
    Yes, for Bill Belichick
    (889 votes)
  • 51%
    No
    (1026 votes)
1988 votes total Vote Now