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Conflicting Garoppolo reports create intrigue

Reports indicate Jimmy Garoppolo is still very much in play in Cleveland, but others say it's not happening.

The first round of the 2017 Draft featured a whole lot of wheeling and dealing, most of which involved quarterbacks. Three rookies saw their new teams trade up aggressively to select them, but the one passer with the highest profile – Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo – remained in New England.

Depending on which source is to be believed, that may be changing soon.

While ESPN's Adam Schefter remains steadfast in his belief that Garoppolo won't be going anywhere (he tweeted once again on Friday that the Patriots have no intentions of dealing him), word out of Cleveland (via Mary Kay Cabot) is the Browns intend to make another push to grab him.

The rookies commanded significant draft capital Thursday night. The Bears sent four picks to switch places from No. 3 to No. 2 in order to grab Mitch Trubisky out of North Carolina, and later Kansas City went from 27 to 10 to take Texas Techs's Patrick Mahomes while Houston jumped from 25 to 12 to get Deshaun Watson of Clemson. Both the Chiefs and Texans forked over 2018 first-round picks to move up, in addition to other high picks, and that steep price has reopened the possibility of the Patriots dealing Garoppolo.

The fact that Houston went to 12 is a huge part of this line of thinking. That's the spot originally held by Cleveland, who despite finishing the night with three picks in the first round came away without a quarterback nonetheless.

Cabot obviously feels the Browns won't rest until they acquire a suitable quarterback, which at this point does not appear to exist on the roster. Cleveland currently has Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan and Brock Osweiler under contract, and none is considered a long-term solution.

Garoppolo is unquestionably more NFL ready than the rookies having three seasons under his belt, but he has started just two NFL regular-season games and finished one. He also will enter the final year of his contract, which means he'll be looking for starter money in his next deal.

That apparently hasn't scared Cleveland GM Shashi Brown from remaining interested, but at what price? Given the developments that took place Thursday, the Patriots could rightly expect quite a haul if they are to deal a quarterback many in the organization feel is a worthy heir apparent to the soon-to-be 40-year-old Tom Brady.

So, this could come down to a very expensive game of chicken. If Schefter is correct and Garoppolo is simply not for sale at any price it would be considered a lost opportunity for the Patriots. Valuable chips such as a highly sought-after backup quarterbacks are not commonplace in the NFL, and risking losing Garoppolo (or diminishing his value next year through a potential franchise tag) would be quite disappointing.

However, it's possible that Bill Belichick has played it perfectly all along, patiently allowing the market to take shape and successfully increasing Garoppolo's value by allowing Schefter to declare him untouchable. Cleveland added multiple picks in the Texans trade and others as well, and now is loaded with resources to get a deal done.

The time may be right for Belichick to pull the trigger. Now it's time to see if it will happen.

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