Gil LeBreton

Patriots’ Garoppolo: better QB trade bait than Romo?

So what’s the going price this off-season for an NFL backup quarterback from Eastern Illinois?

No. Not that guy, Dallas Cowboys fans.

We’re talking about New England’s Jimmy Garoppolo, a real Super Bowl quarterback.

Garoppolo is the 25-year-old, third-year quarterback -- also from Eastern Illinois, just like Tony Romo – who filled in semi-spectacularly when starter Tom Brady was suspended at the start of the 2016 season.

There are two ways, you see, to stock an NFL roster in case of an injury to your starting quarterback – the right way and the Brandon Weeden way.

The Patriots drafted Garoppolo in the second round in 2014 with the 62nd pick overall and then watched Garoppolo win both of his starts during Brady’s absence.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, picked up Weeden on the cheap in 2015 and, with Romo hurt, watched their season go up in flames.

Things have a way of working out. The Cowboys drafted Dak Prescott a year ago, and Romo is now a trade chip.

And the Patriots, according to a report on WEEI-Radio from ESPN’s Adam Shefter, have flirted around with trading Garoppolo for two draft picks, a No. 1 and No. 4.

They can’t be serious. But, then again, Bill Belichick is a genius.

Predictably, the first question for Garoppolo at Monday’s Super Bowl Opening Night was about his future.

"I haven’t even thought about it to be honest," he said. "I’m really trying not to. Right now, it’s just about focusing on the Super Bowl."

Garoppolo broke most of Romo’s records at Eastern Illinois, throwing for 115 career touchdowns, 53 during his senior season.

Like Romo, Garoppolo responded when Belichick needed him during Brady’s suspension. He realized that opportunity was knocking.

"In this league, you might never get an opportunity," Garoppolo said. "To have an opportunity like that, you’ve got to be thankful for it and take advantage of it. You never know if you’re going to get another."

Garoppolo was injured during his second start this season, suffering a shoulder injury – another Romo moment – and though recovered, he has thrown only four passes since.

Garoppolo will be in the final year of his rookie contract next season.

Trade bait?

He likely would command more on the trade market than a 37-year-old, oft-injured Romo.