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Ryan Mallett unlikely to play in Pats' preseason finale

With Ryan Mallett still on the burner as a potential trade target for quarterback-needy teams, the New England Patriots are keeping their backup in bubble wrap.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that New England is expected to hold Mallett out of Thursday's final preseason game against the New York Giants, per a Patriots source.

With potential trade opportunities down the road, the risk of injury was deemed too high, the source told Rapoport. That means rookie Jimmy Garoppolo will start and likely go the distance.

Rapoport was told the Patriots won't deal Mallett until they feel comfortable with Garoppolo as their backup. Thursday will go a long way toward making that decision.

The Mallett trade rumors have burned bright all offseason, but quarterback chaos in a handful of NFL cities makes moving the lanky passer a greater reality than ever before.

Losing Sam Bradford to another season-ending ACL tear would have left the Rams as a potential candidate for Mallett's services. However, Rapoport reported Monday evening that St. Louis trading for a quarterback is "unlikely, mainly because of what they would have to give up."

The Texans remain in the picture, and hold the advantage of the No. 1 waiver priority if Mallett is ultimately cut.

The Patriots, though, would love to get something in return for the fourth-year passer who looked entirely average in preseason play but comes equipped with the size and build teams love at the position.

Hang on tight, friends, the Mallett whispers remain alive and well for at least another week.

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