The New England Patriots' dynasty has been unlike one we've ever seen in the NFL. Their seemingly endless dominance includes six Super Bowl victories, 11 consecutive AFC East titles, and 19 straight winning seasons.
Naturally, much of their success can be attributed to the legendary tandem of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, but with the pair's future as uncertain as ever, we've reached the beginning of the end of the Pats' epic run.
Should the team's reign come to an end in 2020, or shortly after, the franchise will be looking back at one particular move which kickstarted the downward trend: trading Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers.
Garoppolo's success in San Francisco should surely have Patriots fans feeling remorseful about the deal, especially considering the team only acquired a second-round pick in exchange for the star QB. With Brady's future in New England up in the air, the team is facing uncertainty at the position for the first time in more than 20 years.
Based on Garoppolo's performance since moving out West, the Patriots wildly undersold the 28-year-old. Not only did they move a franchise quarterback, one who could have taken the reigns from Brady and helped carry the dynastic torch, but the return they got for him was anything but substantial.
The Patriots traded the 49ers' second-round pick to the Lions and traded Detroit's second-round pick to the Bears to acquire more assets. Still, those picks have turned into the likes of Damien Harris, Christian Sam, Joejuan Williams (who was just arrested), Duke Dawson, Yodny Cajuste, Jarrett Stidham, and a 2020 fourth-round pick (from Chicago).
Of those players, Dawson's 14 appearances lead the pack, with none of the others having been featured in double-digit games for the Patriots.
If Brady ends up shocking the league and leaving the Patriots, New England could be forced to deploy Jarrett Stidham under center in 2020, or try to address the position via the draft. Rather than have an experienced and capable veteran waiting in the wings, the Patriots sold low on Garoppolo and are now at the mercy of Brady's decision when it comes to the direction of the franchise.
Garoppolo has amassed a 19-5 record since taking over in San Francisco, turning a struggling franchise into Super Bowl contenders. If he's able to take down the Chiefs, that feeling of regret in Beantown will only be amplified.
With Brady's production clearly waning and Garoppolo seemingly just entering his prime, the Patriots will end up kicking themselves over that trade for years to come, even though they ended up winning a Super Bowl after trading Jimmy G.