There are two ways to interpret ESPN’s report that the Patriots aren’t expected to trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo:
A. The Patriots aren’t expected to trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
B. The Patriots absolutely will trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo but want to make interested teams, such as the Bears, give until it hurts.
Let’s go with B. The Patriots are a shrewd, sneaky organization not averse to spreading false information to get more in return for Tom Brady’s backup.
This is the lying season in the NFL. OK, it’s always the lying season in the NFL, but the pre-draft period is when lying reaches levels normally reserved for fifth-graders trying to explain what happened to their missing homework assignment.
So when my old buddy Adam Schefter has league sources telling him the Patriots don’t plan to trade Garoppolo, my instinct is to believe that no one, not even the Schefter household’s pet goldfish, believes what they are ladling out.
The Bears don’t sound enthusiastic about using the third overall pick in the draft to choose from a quarterback class that has earned universal shrugs. But with the calendar turning from Fibruary to Myth, who really knows anything about anybody?
For example, general manager Ryan Pace calls Jay Cutler’s situation as it relates to the Bears ‘‘fluid.’’ So is loose stool.
‘‘There’s a lot of different things that can happen,’’ Pace said Wednesday.
He added that the Bears might keep Cutler. File that wherever you filed the ‘‘Patriots aren’t expected to trade Garoppolo’’ report. The Bears want to get whatever they can for Cutler, which won’t be a whole lot, so they’re pretending that keeping him is an option. I hope they’re pretending, at least. If the team were to retain its embattled quarterback, Halas Hall would need extra security against the inevitable public uprising.
What can’t be doubted amid all the dissembling is that the Bears badly need a quarterback. It’s a precarious situation. It’s the kind of situation that can lead to people losing their jobs. You almost can see the thought bubble above Pace’s head: Oh, great. The year we need a quarterback, none of the quarterbacks in the draft appears to be anywhere near a sure thing. That would be coach John Fox’s thought bubble, too.
Garoppolo has several things going for him, one of which is that he might be an excellent quarterback. No one can be sure of that, though. But he does have the allure of being Brady’s backup and seemingly having coach Bill Belichick’s stamp of approval. To have that kind of shine on your car is worth a lot in the NFL, like having your stock recommended by Warren Buffett.
The Bears had better hope that Garoppolo is available and that he’s everything he is being sold as. Otherwise, what are their options for 2017? Brian Hoyer? Colin Kaepernick, who reportedly is opting out of his contract with the 49ers? Cutler? Say it ain’t so!
Whatever happens, the Bears have to draft a quarterback, something Pace failed to do in his first two drafts and something he is paying for now. If you’re looking for hints, he sure seemed to be talking about Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson when he was asked if win-loss record is important in evaluating a college quarterback.
‘‘I think you want to see a guy who has elevated his program. Again, you just reference places you’ve been,’’ said Pace, who worked for the Saints before coming to the Bears. ‘‘I know I’ve talked about this player a lot because he had a big impact on me, but I think about [Drew] Brees when he was at Purdue. And he elevated that program. He took them to the Rose Bowl. I think that means something. I think that’s something that we have to pay attention to.’’
Clemson played in two consecutive national-title games, winning one, with Watson at quarterback. Interesting. Or maybe Pace’s riff on young quarterbacks is just a ruse. Maybe he knows a team that wants to trade up to get Watson and he’s whispering sweet nothings in its direction.
And maybe the Patriots really do want to keep Garoppolo, what with Brady turning 40 in August. Maybe they don’t trust the aging process, or maybe they worry about the chances of a bad injury bringing down their future Hall of Famer for good.
That’s a lot of maybes, which I think is the whole idea of this confusing stew. The Bears want other teams to think that anything is possible and that nothing is possible. That makes them just like the Patriots.
Truth is the first casualty of an NFL war room.
Follow me on Twitter @MorrisseyCST.