Antonio Garcia speaks with a matter-of-fact edge that masks a frightening year that could have cost him much more than his football career. The Patriots’ 2017 third-round pick missed his entire rookie season due to blood clots in his lungs before getting a harsh reminder of the realities of this business. Bill Belichick cut Garcia one year after trading up for him, leaving little doubt that The Evil Empire doesn’t believe that the young left tackle could help New England in an obvious position of need. Garcia, a fluid athlete with good lateral movement skills, didn’t allow a sack in more than 900 offensive snaps in his senior year at Troy. He admittedly was thrown for a loop upon learning of his diagnosis after a few training camp practices last summer. “It was definitely unexpected,” Garcia told The Daily News. “It’s never happened ever in my life. How did I react to it? I was caught off-guard. But I had no choice but to accept it and try to improve every day.” The Patriots placed Garcia on the reserve/non-football illness (NFI) list in September. Patience was required for him to ever have an opportunity to play again. “I didn’t really have a choice,” Garcia said. “You have to (be patient). It wasn’t easy, but you got to take stones when they’re thrown at you.” Garcia was placed on medication that made it impossible to take part in football activities. “With the medication I was on, I couldn’t have physical contact,” Garcia said. “But I did everything else. I lifted every day. I ran every day. I kept myself in shape. You just got to try to stay away from (things like) jet skiing, bike riding.” Garcia lost weight, though he refuted a report that he dropped nearly 40 pounds off his 302-pound frame. He was cleared for football activities in March before participating in the Patriots' voluntary offseason workouts. Garcia told the News that he’s “about 290 pounds” these days (12 pounds lighter than his weight at the 2017 Scouting Combine). There are fair questions, however, about whether he can maintain a 300-plus pound frame. It wasn’t long ago that the Patriots believed in him. They traded their third-round pick (No. 96 overall) and fourth-rounder (No. 124) to move up 11 spots to take Garcia, who appeared to be in line to replace Nate Solder as Tom Brady’s blind-side protector in 2018. It was surprising that Belichick and respected offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia gave up on Garcia so fast after their investment in him. They obviously didn’t think that he’ll be able to stay healthy. “I just wasn’t cleared medically in New England. So, it is what it is,” Garcia said. “I think they knew I was a good player.” Maybe so, but the Patriots’ decision to draft Georgia tackle Isaiah Wynn in the first round coupled with their trade for veteran tackle Trent Brown left little doubt that Garcia wouldn’t have a role for New England. The Jets claimed Garcia off waivers hoping to get him back on track. Garcia, who’s been taking backup snaps exclusively at left tackle during OTAs, has the skill set to fit into the Jets scheme that will put an emphasis on outside zone-blocking principles (aka stretch runs). “They’ve added the wide-zone schemes, which I’m pretty used to considering they did that in New England,” Garcia said. “I’m just figuring out my role here. I just want to earn a role. That’s what I want to do. ... I’m acclimating well. I’m just trying to get into a rhythm.” Maybe the Jets can cultivate all his talent.