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Finally, The Patriots' Jimmy Garoppolo Trade Return Tree Is Complete ... For Now

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- If you've ever read or watched the Harry Potter series, then you're familiar with the concept of Horcruxes. And you've likely been waiting for many, many years to see that exact topic lead a sports story.

Today is your lucky day.

For the uninitiated, a Horcrux is an object into which a wizard can place a piece of his or her soul. Duh. Everyone knows that. The infamous Lord Voldemort split his own evil soul into seven pieces, paradoxically strengthening and weakening him at the same time. The goal of creating a Horcrux was, in essence, to attempt to live forever.

This plot device was critical to the entire Harry Potter series ... and it also seemed to apply directly to the Patriots' treatment of the Jimmy Garoppolo trade.

As you may recall, we've been tracking the Jimmy G. return dating back to the date of the trade on Oct. 30, 2017. When the trade was first reported, New England groaned in agony that the Patriots only received a single pick for Garoppolo (No. 43 overall in 2018). But then, during the 2018 draft, they traded it for two more picks. Then they traded one of those for two more picks. They traded the other one, too. In short order, an entire trade tree had sprouted from the one single pick acquired in exchange for the ever-handsome James Garoppolo.

As of last year, it ended up looking like this:

It was a mess.

But now, lo and behold, the story is over. The trade tree is complete.

Voldemort is dead. Long live Harry James Potter.

The trade tree finally came to an end on Saturday. The end began when the Patriots traded three picks to the Jets in order to move up to select tight end Dalton Keene on Friday night. Included in the three picks to move up was No. 125 overall, a pick that sprung from the long series of trades going back to that initial return for Garoppolo.

After that trade, the only remaining pick left on the Jimmy G. tree was No. 195 in the 2020 draft. That pick was acquired from Denver last year when the Patriots traded Duke Dawson to the Broncos. Dawson had been picked 56th overall in 2018, a pick the Patriots acquired using one of the initial four picks acquired by trading No. 43 overall. The Patriots also included No. 117 overall in that trade to acquire the pick used to select Dawson.

So on Saturday, with the 195th pick of the 2020 draft, the Patriots selected Justin Herron, an offensive lineman out of Wake Forest. Herron is 6-foot-4, 301 pounds, and he's known for his work ... oh, who cares about draft profiles at this moment in time. The Jimmy Garoppolo Trade Tree is finished growing!

At least, I think. I'm pretty sure.

But even I have doubts.

Let's rely on last year's math. Honestly, we can't even go back and do it over again. The calculator is broken. What's done is done. Last year's calculus is now canon.

And if we use last year's conclusions, we can say that the Garoppolo trade tree, in its most basic form, looks like this.


–Jimmy Garoppolo
–No. 51 in 2018
–No. 105 in 2018
–No. 117 in 2018
--No. 56 in 2019
–No. 73 in 2019
–No. 97 in 2019
–No. 162 in 2019
--No. 125 in 2020
--CB Duke Dawson

(They traded away more than just those picks to get the return, but those are the ones directly tied to Garoppolo. You see? Of course you do.)


CB Duke Dawson (No. 56 overall, 2018)
LB Christian Sam (No. 178 overall, 2018)
CB Joejuan Williams (No. 45 overall, 2019)
RB Damien Harris (No. 87 overall, 2019)
T Yodny Cajuste (No. 101 overall, 2019)
QB Jarrett Stidham (No. 133 overall, 2019)
TE Dalton Keene (No. 101 overall, 2020)
OL Justin Herron (No. 195 overall, 2020)

And theoretically, the tree can still grow. If the Patriots trade any more of those players, then technically that tree just keeps growing. That's what happened with Duke Dawson, so it could happen with any other drafted player on that list. If the Patriots end up trading Harris, or Stidham, or anyone there, the Jimmy G. trade tree could be resurrected years down the line.

How fun.

But for now, we'll leave a few blank pages at the end, and we'll keep a pen handy. But we're going to go ahead and close the leather-bound book that is the Jimmy Garoppolo trade.

One more fun fact, though:  Last year, the Patriots traded No. 56 (a Garoppolo-related pick) along with No. 101 in order to move up and select Joejuan Williams. But later, the Patriots traded No. 97 and No. 162 (a Garoppolo-related pick) in order to acquire two picks, one of which was No. 101. That was the same No. 101 pick -- a non-Garoppolo-related pick -- which they had traded away earlier.

Through that series of trades, the Patriots were able to take a totally non-Garoppolo-related pick in No. 101 overall and annex it to an already out-of control trade tree.


Similarly, they acquired Dawson with a Garoppolo pick fairly early in the existence of the tree. But then they traded Dawson, thus growing a new offshoot from what used to be a dead end.

The thing's a real mess.

Last year, after what felt like 4,000 trades, I deemed the return on Garoppolo to be "too confusing to figure out." I stand by that. I also wrote that diving too far into the details could bring about feelings nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach and/or diarrhea. I stand by that as well.

That's because there's actually not a science to it. The process relies much more on philosophy and abstract thinking than it does on cold, hard, black-and-white transactions.

Properly stating the full return on Garoppolo requires a philosophical approach. That is to say ... if one of the picks acquired in the string of trades gets dealt with two other non-Garoppolo-related picks to select a player, then is that player part of the tree? Technically, yes, but the Garoppolo-related pick used to acquire that player was only, say, one-third of the equation in some cases.

The Joejuan Williams pick, for example, was acquired with one Jimmy G. pick and one non-Jimmy G. pick. So Jimmy G. indirectly led to half of Williams -- either the Joe part or the Juan part, take your pick.

Take it further with Herron. That pick was one of two acquired in the Dawson trade, and as previously mentioned, Dawson himself was acquired by New England with one Jimmy G. pick and one non-Jimmy G. pick.

That's a lot of spiritual division. It's a whole lot of Horcruxes.

Keep dividing every time another pick gets traded with other picks for other picks, and the end result is an incalculable influence on the selection of a player in some instances.

But that hasn't stopped us from trying, now has it?

Take Dalton Keene, as another example. The Patriots traded No. 125 and No. 129 overall, plus a sixth-round pick in next year's daft, in order to move up and take Keene at No. 101. Of those three picks, only No. 125 was Garoppolo-related, as the Patriots acquired it last year from Chicago in exchange for two other picks. So, No. 125 in 2020 was certainly tied to the Garoppolo trade, but its association to Jimmy was much weaker than the series of picks acquired on the long and winding road dating back to Halloween 2017.

If you don't think all of that sounds crazy, then, well, we're going to have to advise you take a walk or a jog and maybe clear your mind. Because you're way too locked in.

If you spend more than 10 seconds on this topic, you end up looking like a strung-out Charlie Kelly in no time. Go read the above paragraph aloud to a friend or loved one, and you'll soon realize that you look like this:

Alas, those of us brave to climb this mountain can stand on the top and tell you ... it was not worth it. But it's done. It's over.

Let's never ever do that again.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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