Why Patriots couldn't have put franchise tag on Jimmy Garoppolo
/ Patriots

By Mike ReissESPN Staff Writer

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With NFL teams informed that the salary cap for 2018 will be $177.2 million, and with franchise tag values set for next season, it is timely to revisit the New England Patriots' decision-making process in trading quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo last October.

One line of thinking was that the Patriots could have held on to Garoppolo, assigned him the franchise tag, and then either kept him for the 2018 season (under the tag) or traded him.

If they had chosen either of those, consider how they would be managing their current situation:

Garoppolo would be accounting for $23 million of cap space, and Tom Brady $22 million. That would be $45 million of the $177.2 million cap, which would represent 25.3 percent of the Patriots' overall cap.

Having one-quarter of the salary cap devoted to the quarterback position would run counter to what the team has traditionally done in terms of spending across the roster to build a stronger middle class. That said, if the team felt strongly about Garoppolo as the quarterback of the future, perhaps this would have been the one time to make an exception and buy another year to extend the possible succession plan. Still, that would have been...

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