Brady’s Backups Entice, but Don’t Excel. Will Jimmy Garoppolo Be Different?

Since Brady replaced Drew Bledsoe as the Patriots quarterback in 2001, his primary backups have included Rohan Davey (2002-04), Matt Cassel (2005-08), Brian Hoyer (2009-11), Ryan Mallett (2011-13), Garoppolo (2014-17) and Jacoby Brissett (2016).


Garoppolo, right, with quarterback Tom Brady during a Patriots preseason game last summer. Garoppolo, 26, could not count on taking over Brady’s job anytime soon, and the team traded him.

Winslow Townson/Associated Press

Only three of them ever started in New England because Brady has missed just 19 games since he took over the job. His replacements have a cumulative won-lost record of 13-6: Cassel was 10-5 in 2008 after Brady injured his knee in the season opener. During Brady’s Deflategate suspension last year, Garoppolo was 2-0 before getting hurt, and Brissett, who is now starting for the Indianapolis Colts in place of the injured Andrew Luck, was 1-1.

Of the six backups, five got N.F.L. jobs elsewhere. Davey, the exception, landed with minor league teams, taking two Super Bowl rings with him. The others have a cumulative record of 48-74 away from the New England nest and the command of Coach Bill Belichick: Cassel (26-40), Hoyer (16-22), Mallett (3-5), Brissett (3-7), Garoppolo (0-0).

Yet they have reaped financial rewards from being Brady-adjacent — especially Cassel. When the Patriots traded him to Kansas City in 2009, the Chiefs’ general manager was Scott Pioli, who had recently been Belichick’s vice president for player personnel. Pioli was so confident in Cassel that he signed the quarterback to a six-year, $63 million contract that included $28 million in guarantees.

Cassel wound up spending four seasons in Kansas City and was ineffective in three of them. He has since bounced around the N.F.L. and is currently the backup to Marcus Mariota in Tennessee. The website estimates Cassel’s total post-Patriots pay as just over $62.8 million, roughly $2.4 million per victory or $775,000 per touchdown pass.

Hoyer ended up making pretty good money in Cleveland ($3.3 million in 2014), Houston ($5.1 million in 2015) and San Francisco ($7.3 million this year). Mallett, who was traded to Houston in August 2014, has made mostly backup money since then, including $2 million as Joe Flacco’s insurance plan in Baltimore this year. Brissett is on…

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