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Deflategate only made the Patriots better

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This week’s Garoppolo is just another reminder how the team actually benefitted from the whole thing.

No wonder people hate the Patriots. Whatever crummy circumstance fate or commissioner Roger Goodell deals them, they always seem to come out ahead. They’re pretty much your friend from college who effortlessly nailed down a 4.0 without seeming to lift a finger AND found a $50 while walking across the quad while you sold your last drop of plasma for beer money.

After the rest of us suffered through more than 500 days of Deflategate coverage, the Patriots served the bulk of their punishment last year. They lost their first-round pick in the 2016 draft. And Tom Brady finally served his four-game suspension to start the season that year.

They won the Super Bowl. But they had to battle back from a 28-3 deficit to do it. Tough break.

While Brady was out that year, New England cruised to a 3-1 record with the help of backups Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett. Each player had two starts during the stretch, getting the chance to show off their abilities in the friendly confines of the Patriots’ well-engineered offensive system. Both did just fine, good enough to make each one a valuable trade asset this year.

They flipped Brissett to the Colts, the team that tattled on them for the potentially deflated footballs in the first place, before the season started for Phillip Dorsett, a first-round pick in 2015. Dorsett hasn’t done much for the Patriots, but it was a decent enough flyer for a third-string QB.

That brings us to Monday night when they flipped Garoppolo to the 49ers for San Francisco’s second-round pick in the 2018 draft, likely to be one of the first few picks in that round, not far off from where the Patriots will probably be picking themselves near the end of the first round.

Garoppolo’s been a steady presence on the rumor mill since the spring. Teams were calling the Patriots then, prepared to throw a package of draft picks their way in an effort to pry him loose from the roster. New England wouldn’t budge. As Bill Belichick explained, they wanted to try and keep Garoppolo as the heir to Tom Brady.

When they realized that wasn’t going to work, they finally made the decision to trade him in this week’s deal with the 49ers.

Without those two starts in place of a suspended Tom Brady, Garoppolo might have been just another backup to the rest of the league. He may end up being another Matt Cassel, or he might be the franchise quarterback the 49ers anticipate.

Either way, the Patriots came out ahead with another high draft pick that they’ll use to keep adding talent to the roster.

In the end, Deflategate amounted to nothing. If anything, the Patriots came out ahead for their troubles. So much for their punishment.

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