The New England Patriots are struggling early in the 2017 NFL season, which could force them to make trades soon. Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is being mentioned again in numerous New England Patriots rumors.

The Patriots are expected to live and die with Tom Brady as their starting quarterback this season. This will leave Garoppolo settling for a backup role again for the entire year, but things could take a turn after New England’s 2-2 start.

San Francisco 49ers among potential landing spots for Garoppolo

While there are no imminent deals on the horizon, NFL analyst Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports named the San Francisco 49ers as a logical landing spot for Garoppolo.

It was pointed out that Garoppolo could be the answer for the 49ers, who are looking to get a solid starting QB.

The 49ers are being linked to Kirk Cousins, who will become a free agent after the season. However, San Francisco might get the starting QB that they are looking for in Garoppolo if they are willing to part ways with some defensive-minded players.

According to the report, the Patriots are focused on improving their defense, which struggled mightily in their first four games. Garoppolo is considered the heir apparent to Brady, but the Patriots might decide to move the 25-year-old for an attractive trade package.

DeForest Buckner or Arik Armstead were mentioned as potential centerpieces if the 49ers and Patriots decide to strike a deal.

Buckner and Armstead are tipped to become upgrades for the Patriots on the defensive end, while Garoppolo will give the 49ers a signal caller who can immediately make an impact for the team.

New England Patriots lose ‘consensus favorites’ tag

The New England Patriots were initially considered consensus favorites to win the Super Bowl this season.

However, the Pats lost the favorite tag after losing in two of their first four games this season.

ESPN reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers, who hold a 3-1 card, are now 9-2 favorites to win the Super Bowl followed by the Patriots at 5-1 based on Westgate SuperBook odds. Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology also has the Steelers on top, tied with the Kansas City Chiefs, at 7-2.

New England started the season with a disappointing 42-27 loss to the Chiefs at the Gillette Stadium. The defending Super Bowl champions bounced back with wins over the New Orleans Saints and the Houston Texans, but they took a 33-30 home loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.