Brady concussion story may shed light on why Patriots kept Garoppolo

Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire

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Tom Brady’s wife unwittingly dropped a huge bombshell on the football world Wednesday morning, telling “CBS This Morning” that Tom Brady had sustained a concussion during the 2016 NFL season.

The problem?

Tom Brady was not listed on the Patriots’ injury report on any week this past season with a concussion. As a matter of fact, Brady hasn’t been on an injury report with a concussion in the past four seasons, according to David P. Woods of The Score.

Did the decision to retain Jimmy Garoppolo focus on the Brady injury last season? Here’s the inevitable fact: Father Time is undefeated. As fit as Brady is as a soon-to-be 40-year-old NFL quarterback, his body will inevitably break down. It happens to every athlete in every sport.

If Brady did, in fact, suffer an undocumented concussion in 2016, the Patriots might have been well served to sit on the booming trade value of Garoppolo.

No team in the league was more closely tied to Garoppolo throughout the offseason than the Cleveland Browns, who now tote second-round draft selection Deshone Kizer.

The Patriots’ second-string QB enters the 2017 season in the final year of his rookie contract, having posted a 113.3 passer rating with 4 touchdowns in two starts and six total games. It’s a promising omen for the Patriots that life after Tom Brady is sustainable, and it’s likely what the Patriots needed to see in order to retain Garoppolo on the roster.

More than any team in the league, the Patriots know when to cut their losses and optimize their assets to get a return. Don’t believe me? Ask Chandler Jones. Or ask Jamie Collins. Or Logan Mankins, Randy Moss, Richard Seymour, or Deion Branch.

The fact that the Patriots, the kings of flipping depreciating assets for value, retained a backup quarterback entering a contract year suggests there may be some fire to go with the smoke.

If Brady did suffer a concussion, not only will the Patriots face potential penalties from the league; the revelation will increase the urgency of ensuring that anyone behind Brady on the depth chart is up to speed with the system.

Brady is one of a handful of quarterbacks that can lay claim to the title of the “Greatest of All Time,” but the Patriots are wise to plan and prepare for life after their superstar. If a banged-up 40-year-old starting quarterback takes the field for the Patriots during the 2017 season, Garoppolo will be waiting in the wings, just as he has since he was drafted in the second round in 2014.

That experience in the New England locker room and offensive meeting rooms is paramount to Garoppolo’s success. The failed departures of endless coaches and players from the New England serve as evidence that the culture cultivated in New England is nearly impossible to replicate in other buildings around the league.

Don’t use that as a slight against Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, or any other player or coach under contract. The same could be said with Bill Walsh and Joe Montana. Perfect alignments of personalities, staff and culture are the core ingredients to dynasties.

At this point, Garoppolo knows the Patriots’ offensive playbook inside and out. He has received game experience in throwing to skill players and proven he has the stuff between the ears the keep the offense moving. The production in both points and statistics from Garoppolo’s playing time to Brady during the 2016 season is eye-opening. It also proves Garoppolo’s case.

His adjusted yards per completion, completion percentage, touchdown ratio, passer rating, and true yards per game were all comparable to Brady’s production last season.

Whether it’s 2017 or beyond, the Patriots appear prepared for life after Brady. They were certainly right to stay braced for that reality if the revelation of Brady’s concussion is accurate.