With serious injuries at key offensive positions both the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, once bitter rivals, enter the season under similar circumstances.
The Colts are without quarterback Andrew Luck for the start of the season. Luck underwent surgery in January to fix a shoulder injury that had lingered since 2015, and won’t be ready to open the season. The Patriots lost wideout Julian Edelman for the season with a torn ACL in week three of the preseason.
This is why their trade Saturday, which caught the NFL by surprise, makes a lot of sense for both teams. The Colts get quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who started two games for the Pats last season and even beat the Texans, an eventual playoff team in the AFC. And the Patriots get receiver Phillip Dorsett, who’s speed and quickness is a good fit with the New England offense that relies so heavily on the slot receiver.
But by trading Brissett the Patriots have left themselves thinner at the quarterback position than they’ve been in the recent past. Looking beyond the obvious need at receiver, could this trade be an indicator that the Patriots are committed to Tom Brady for a longer term than most think?
With Jimmy Garoppolo’s rookie contract expiring after the season many fans believed it would take starting quarterback money to keep the understudy long term and, following this logic, Brady’s days in New England would be numbered. The ideal situation would have been for Brady to retire after the season despite being on record multiple times stating his desire to play until he’s at least 45.
This line of thinking makes sense for the Patriots too. Brady is entering the season at 40-years-old and some analysts even expect the five-time Super Bowl champ’s talent to “fall off a cliff” this year. But if this line of thinking were accurate a logical plan would then be to keep Brissett as your number two quarterback of the future. The Patriots drafted Brissett in the third round of the 2016 draft when they knew they would be without Brady for the first four games of the season due to his “Deflate-gate” suspension. Brissett came in handy after Garoppolo went down in week two with a shoulder injury. Brissett beat the Texans in week three and played through a broken thumb in a week four loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Had the plan been to go with Garoppolo moving forward the Patriots would have been reluctant to get rid of Brissett as he would’ve been slotted as the backup of the future. There are already injury concerns with Garoppolo under center. He missed two and a half games last season after hurting his shoulder against the Dolphins. Garoppolo’s also a more mobile quarterback than Brady. He will be outside the pocket more often than Brady, opening himself up for more hits. If you were going with a quarterback with these injury concerns as your starter of the future, the logical thing to do is invest in a quality backup; something the Patriots had in Brissett.
The Patriots are an organization that always considers the long-term. They know what they have planned for the quarterback position and aren’t worried about a third-stringer. By shipping Brissett to Indianapolis they’ve sent a message that the team isn’t only committed to Brady for this season, but for years to come. At the end of the day, can you really blame them?