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Guregian: Bill Belichick in no rush to make decision on 2018 QB plans

September 4, 2017 GMT

FOXBORO — Not too long ago, Jimmy Garoppolo looked more like the quarterback who was going to be used in a trade by the Patriots, not Jacoby Brissett.

There was a king’s ransom available for him. The Browns were ready, willing and able to make a trade for the backup QB, only Belichick had other ideas.

Turns out Brissett was the asset at the position that made more sense to deal. Down a receiver and punt returner with the loss of Julian Edelman, Belichick and Nick Caserio, the team’s director of player personnel, were able to snag Phillip Dorsett from the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for their true trade chip.

Dorsett, a former first-round pick, shores up the receiving corps, adds even more speed to the unit, and has the potential to take over as the punt returner, all for a player who wouldn’t see the field save for injuries to both Tom Brady and Garoppolo.

Obviously, there’s now an element of risk in the quarterback department by subtracting Brissett. That leaves the Patriots with a 40-year old starter and a backup with an expiring contract heading into Thursday’s season opener with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Belichick, however, doesn’t seem too bothered about being short-handed in the event Brady goes down to an injury, or his age finally kicks in and his play deteriorates.

He doesn’t seem worried about losing Brissett, who’s been in the system and was getting ready to take the baton or be the backup given any number of potential scenarios with Brady and/or Garoppolo this year or next.

Guess you can only worry about what you can control. The futures of Brady and Garoppolo just might be an unsolvable mystery even to Belichick.

Brissett? He didn’t fall under that heading. There was no such mystery with him. The Patriots coach had a much better handle on the third-stringer, who flashed in the final preseason game against the Giants. Belichick was comfortable enough with what might happen with Brissett in the future with another team, he was willing to say goodbye to the third-round pick.

Still, Belichick gave his classic comeback when asked about parting with Brissett yesterday.

“If you want to get something you have to give up something,” he said. “That’s what trades are.”

So, let’s get back to the mystery. If Brady still plays at a high level, what do you do with Garoppolo next year? Let him walk? Give him the franchise tag since Brady will be 41? What if Brady’s simply good, not great? Do you cut or trade the legend to keep Jimmy G? That’s Belichick’s conundrum going forward.

The Patriots coach was asked yesterday about the possibility of being left with just one quarterback on the roster come March given Garoppolo is due to become a free agent. Again, Belichick didn’t sound any alarm bells.

“In the end we’re going to do what is best for the team and make the decisions we feel is best for the team,” he said. “I mean, with all due respect, I don’t think there’s any games scheduled in March. I don’t think there’s any scheduled in April. What a team looks like in March and April is relevant, but in the end it’s more what the team looks like in September, and I’d say more importantly December and January. We never try and build a team for March. We try and build a team for September and most importantly November and December.”

Obviously, Belichick is going to do what’s necessary. If he needs to add a veteran quarterback at some point, he’ll do that. For now, Brady and Garoppolo will do just fine.

Belichick did acknowledge Garoppolo has shown improvement entering his fourth season in the league. As far as his inconsistency, and tending to play better when the lights go on, Belichick chalked it up to being the nature of training camp and the preseason.

“Look, I think there’s not one player on the team that hasn’t had their ups and downs through training camp and the preseason games, or coaches for that matter,” he said. “I think this isn’t a straight line for anybody, any of us. As much as we want it to be, that is just totally unrealistic. You look at it as more of a broader stretch. You look at it three weeks, or first two weeks of preseason, or all four preseason games, or this preseason compared to another preseason that is comparable. Again, there’s still factors there that are variables. They’re not all the same. You do the best you can and make that evaluation.”

That’s sort of how he’s rolling with his quarterbacks. He’ll see what happens during the broad stretch from 2017 into 2018, and go from there. Maybe they hit Jimmy G with a franchise tag, or maybe by some miracle, sign him to an extension. Or maybe, Brady just continues to defy all odds and explanation.

Then Belichick will see what it looks like next September.