It took 542 days, but it finally appears as if Tom Brady isn’t going to be able to avoid his 4-game suspension as a result of “Delategate” any longer.
Brady’s appeal was rejected by the Federal Court on Wednesday morning in what feels like the one millionth time this story has resurfaced over the last year and a half.
But forget the storyline. This is the first time it really feels like TB12 is actually going to miss time on the football field. That means a lot to the Patriots, Jimmy Garoppolo, the NFL and fantasy sports…
5. The Patriots Won’t Play Any Different
Bill Belichick is too stubborn to do this any other way. Garoppolo will get to go through his second training camp preparing to be the starter (we were in this exact situation last year) with a team that’s got plenty of confidence in him.
The Pats need to be ready for Brady to return after four weeks anyway, so there’s simply no point in trying to be a different team in the meantime. Jimmy G is going to step right into the shoes of a legend and make the decisions. Will New England simplify the playbook for the first four weeks? Sure, but this team isn’t going to rely on the run just because Brady isn’t available.
Pass catchers like Gronk, Edelman, Amendola (and even new adds Chris Hogan and Nate Washington) should be used as expected prior to the Brady news. If anything, a young QB at the helm could even mean a bump in value for Gronk who will be hard for Garoppolo to ignore.
4. Health More Crucial Than Ever
Throughout the years, the Patriots have typically been able to win a majority of their games regardless of personnel. There’s only one exception — Brady has to be on the field. Nobody’s made more with in his career than Tom. It’s safe to assume Garoppolo won’t be able to do that since no other QB in the league is able to.
The health of the Patriots through the first four games of the season has never been more important — and that goes across the board. The pass catchers need to stay healthy to give Garoppolo a chance. If any big names were to get hurt, then the offensive game plan likely would shift more towards the RBs.
The RBs need to stay healthy to keep a balanced offenses for their new QB. If Garoppolo is asked to do too much the wheels could fall off.
The offensive line needs to stay healthy to keep Garoppolo’s confidence high. Getting battered around early could cause a lot of problems for the value of everyone in the passing game for the entirety of the first four games.
The defense needs to stay healthy enough to hold opposing teams in check. We expect the Pats’ game plan to be on point and Garoppolo to be comfortable with it. But if they’re consistently playing from behind, expect a young QB trying to improvise to make plenty of mistakes.
And, of course, it goes without saying that New England certainly can’t afford an injury at QB, which would result in unpolished rookie Jacoby Brissett stepping in too early.
3. Garoppolo Gets To Prove His Value
I don’t mean to make the Patriots seem vulnerable, though. They’re a good team even without Brady, and Garoppolo’s going to prove that.
If Jimmy G plays well and gets the Patriots three, or even four wins without Brady, he’s immediately a valuable asset. New England could try and lock him down as Brady’s replacement in a Favre/Rodgers type deal, or look to capitalize on the trade market.
The best part of this for the Pats is that almost any QB’s value is going to look better in New England than it actually is. If Garoppolo plays poorly it’d be disappointing, but life still goes on. But if he puts up decent numbers and wins games as expected, his value could be as high as any realistic QB trade target in the NFL.
Let’s not think of Garoppolo as a “sleeper,” because it’s impossible for him to get lost in the mix given the storyline here. Everyone’s going to know he’s got Brady’s job for four weeks. Week 1 against Arizona will be tough, but expect Garoppolo to be an above average QB at home in Weeks 2-4.
2. Garoppolo Will Be A Trade Target
It doesn’t matter if he plays well, we just need to see him play. Once Garoppolo takes snaps we can get a ballpark determination of his value, and teams will feel much more comfortable trading for him. He’s just an unknown until we see some regular season action in meaningful minutes.
Considering the coaching Garoppolo’s under and the weapons we expect at his disposal, he should look damn good out there. Once a refreshed Brady regains control of his team, Belichick’s going to have a decision to make on Garoppolo. If the decision is to keep him, the rest of the NFL won’t make it easy, because the phone will be ringing off the hook.
Losing that first-round pick as part of the “Deflategate” punishment has hurt the Patriots. If they can bring back a first-rounder in exchange for their backup QB, New England would have to be intrigued.
The first question is what teams would be interested in Garoppolo? Bears? Broncos? In division to the Bills or Jets? It’d be an interesting market. The bigger question becomes would Garoppolo remain as effective on one of those teams? You’d have to think his chances would be a lot better in a place like Denver.
1. The Patriots Will Be A Better Team
And I don’t just mean in the long run. Yes, if Garoppolo turns out to be a player, it helps the Patriots a lot. But Garoppolo starting the first four games of the season/Brady being forced to fit the first four games of the season makes New England a better team in 2016.
For starters, the Patriots backup QB is either 1. Battle tested and ready if he needs to contribute later in the season. Or 2. Traded away for a piece that helps the team win.
But that’s not the real reason the Patriots are better. As always, everything always circles back to Brady.
Tom will benefit from playing a 12-game regular season. He’d never admit it, but Brady will be 39-years old by the start of the regular season, and often sits out practices to recover. A shorter season means a fresher Brady come playoff time. That’s a great thing for New England, who can no doubt win the division despite the situation.
Even more beneficial may be simply the drive this issue continues to feed an already motivated Brady. Tom’s never lost his fire since being selected No. 199 overall, but he’s also been handed some free motivation late in his career by “Deflategate.”
Brady doesn’t want there to be any doubts about his legacy. If he officially misses time because of this, he’ll be a man on a mission next season. Watch out, NFL.
Find me on Twitter @julianedlow
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.