Ex-Patriots LB on trading Garoppolo to 49ers: ‘I think that was a mistake’
Photo: Jim Rogash, Getty Images
Rob Ninkovich no longer plays for the Patriots, but he wishes Jimmy Garoppolo still did.
Today, the retired New England linebacker who was Garoppolo’s teammate from 2014-16 said his ex-team erred by trading Garoppolo to the 49ers for a second-round pick Oct. 30.
“I think that was a mistake trading Jimmy because Jimmy’s an unbelievable quarterback,” Ninkovich said on Boston-based sports radio station WEEI. “He’s a guy that you can build a franchise around. Obviously, he’s going to be the franchise guy in San Francisco.”
Ninkovich, who played with the Patriots from 2009-16, acknowledged he didn’t have a solution to the conundrum the Patriots faced before dealing Garoppolo. Tom Brady, 40, is an MVP candidate this season and Garoppolo is in the final year of his contract.
New England’s could have placed the franchise tag on Garoppolo in the offseason, but that would have meant they would have given at least $23 million guaranteed to a quarterback destined to be a backup for a fifth straight season in 2018.
“I’m not a GM,” Ninkovich said. “I don’t know the perfect answer here, but it’s hard when I see a guy that’s really talented … He’s accurate. He can move in the pocket. He’s smart. He understands how to manage a game and that’s what you want in your quarterback is a game manager. He understands the right thing to do in different situations.”
Ninkovich was struck by Garoppolo’s composure in the final stages of a 25-23 win over Tennessee on Dec. 17 that was capped by his game-winning drive.
“I was watching the NFL Films, the two-minute Jimmy had — he was mic’d up,” Ninkovich said. “And it was awesome. I was like ‘Wow, this guy. He’s got the smile. He’s got the tan. Jimmy GQ, he’s in Cali.’ C’mon, it’s unbelievable.”