This is how it happens.
His reputation precedes him. He is nicknamed a ‘genius.’ He must be. Extra precaution is taken.
Don’t run the ball at the goal line; he will be expecting that. Don’t punt; run a fake. Don’t let your guard down; think outside-the-box.
Bill Belichick is, indeed, a genius. But it’s not just because he’s smarter than his competition. It’s because he is also more patient. He will sit-and-wait. Eventually, someone will make a mistake. By walking into his carefully laid trap.
Ask any successful entrepreneur. They will all give the same answer. That is, every company is always for sale. Every asset is always for sale. This does not mean an organization is actively selling, but no door is ever closed.
The simplest tactic to raise the price of an item is to tip the scales of supply-and-demand. Usually, the buyer or seller can only adjust one side of the equation, but this is typically sufficient. A buyer may not be able to change the price, but can determine his or her own demand – i.e. how important is it to obtain? A seller performs the opposite maneuver – unable to influence another person’s desire, he or she can easily limit the supply quantity.
Bill Belichick is actively marketing Jimmy Garoppolo as a premium item by not marketing Jimmy Garoppolo, at all. The backup quarterback is not a ‘sale’ item. He’s not displayed as ‘marked down’ on a clearance table as soon as you enter the store. In fact, according to Belichick, Garoppolo doesn’t even have a price tag. That’s how much you have to pay to acquire him. Basically, an unidentifiable number.
Garoppolo is not on a shelf in the store. He’s not in the warehouse. He’s locked away in safe box inside Belichick’s office that, surely, could be opened, but “the owner has no intention of selling at this time.”
Intent to sell and willingness to sell are unrelated.
Belichick is telling the world that he has no intention of moving Garoppolo. He is not telling the world that he won’t move him.
Inherently, the price is set. That is, the cost to acquire his asset needs to be so high that it would move Belichick from uninterested to willing. “Go ahead, try your best and figure out a price, but don’t waste my time. He’s not for sale.” Perhaps the words aren’t delivered verbatim, but the message is.
It is no accident that Garoppolo remains ‘off the market’ prior to an NFL draft that just-so-happens to include a list of quarterbacks many are considering lacking ‘star potential.’ And in the middle of a free agency period in which quarterbacks are abundant – supply is high – but none are actually desired – judged directly by the still-high supply and lack of demand. And in the wake of an announcement that Tony Romo is leaving football.
As teams start jotting down names on napkins, they can rank their prospects accordingly. Some combination of free agent quarterbacks and future draftees are shuffled around. Had Jimmy Garoppolo’s name made it to the list, it would be compared to the others. But it’s not. It’s a standalone item. A separate, unobtainable entity. As such, it becomes unique. Special. More expensive.
Eventually, curiosity and greed will win out. Garoppolo’s name, isolated on its proverbial pedestal, will appear as the premium version of the comparatively standard quarterbacks. One owner, general manager, or team official will simply ask, “Why are we settling for this list?”
Never mind that “this list” includes a healthy dose of college players and seasoned veterans, all with some level of definable cost. Never mind that Garoppolo has started only two games in his NFL career. Never mind that the trap is laid.
No, the desire to open the box sitting inside Belichick’s office is too great. Someone will take the bait. Someone will overpay for Jimmy Garoppolo. A deal will be made.
And Bill Belichick will win. Again.