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Which QBs are still available

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As expected, the NFL has an inordinate number of QBs available who were recent regulars

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Last season, this is the number of teams that made the playoffs with a quarterback who they drafted in the top-6: One.

The Philadelphia Eagles went 9-7 with Carson Wentz, getting knocked out of the wild card round by the Seattle Seahawks, led by third rounder Russell Wilson. That’s the only team that made the postseason with a QB they had drafted in the top-6.

The next closest were the Buffalo Bills and Josh Allen (7th), the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes (10th), and the Houston Texans with Deshaun Watson (12th). The other playoff QBs were a sixth rounder (Tom Brady), the last pick of round one (Lamar Jackson), an overlooked trade acquisition (Ryan Tannehill), a publicized trade acquisition (Jimmy Garoppolo), a mid-to-late first rounder (Aaron Rodgers), and two free agents (Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins).

Which of these playoff QBs would make a team feel pressure to draft a QB very early? It doesn’t mean that teams should avoid QBs early or that the value of taking one in the first round has ever been higher thanks to the rookie wage scale, but the method of QB acquisition is really a pick-your-poison situation. There aren’t wrong answers.

It just so happens that the 2020 offseason, perhaps in large part because of that rookie wage scale and the potential devaluation of paying a quarterback $30-$35 million per season, has given us an unprecedented number of available players at the position who have had notable success and aren’t too old to keep teams competitive.

Even after Philip Rivers went to the Indianapolis Colts, Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Teddy Bridgewater to the Carolina Panthers, Nick Foles to the Chicago Bears, Case Keenum to the Cleveland Browns, and Marcus Mariota to the Las Vegas Raiders, several more could still be had. The Los Angeles Chargers have held position on the position, sticking so far with Tyrod Taylor and Easton Stickingsofar.

That could even hold true all the way until the next season begins and this post is not a suggestion for the Chargers to add any of these players. But if the market already has these names available, and more are to come, and few teams are actually providing opportunities, LA might have some very cheap options to consider as the weeks and months go by.

From the obvious to the not so obvious ...

Cam Newton

Have already said that I would not be a fan of this move for the Chargers. Or any other team, really. At first I was surprised that the Panthers had no trade partners but when you consider the complications already added on by coronavirus (restricted travel, team physicians can’t perform physicals), as well as a lack of desperate teams thanks to the influx of other options, it made a lot more sense.

Cam’s best bet at this point seems to be to wait all the way until there’s a season before signing with a team:

  • He’ll presumably be even healthier then than he is now
  • If there’s normalcy, teams can proceed with less caution
  • He can wait to choose a team that looks to be competitive and has a need at QB, either because of injury or poor performance — something we can pretty much guarantee will happen every year

Cam is a year younger than Tannehill, so use that as an example for why a one-year deal might best suit him. He should focus on a team that has proven coaching and is maybe in a division with weak defenses.

Jameis Winston

“Well, I personally think it’s very cool that you threw 30 interceptions” is something I might say to encourage Winston. I mean, he did also lead the NFL in passing yards? And 33 touchdowns is not bad!

In actuality, maybe Winston’s 30 picks in 2019 — never likely to repeat — is not as concerning to me as his mediocre performances from 2017-2018. Because I think that throwing picks is a funny anomaly for a QB who probably took way too many risks while playing with two great receivers and in a Bruce Arians offense that just may be over his head.

At the end of the day, Winston is 26, has plenty of physical gifts that are hard to find, and has 72 games worth of experience. He may be the last QB some teams want to start next season but I bet he’s also the last QB that most starting QBs would like to see sitting behind them next season.

Joe Flacco

There’s almost no way to spin this as being an exciting move for anyone. From 2015-2017, Flacco went 20-22 as a starter for the Ravens, with a passer rating of 82.4, good for roughly 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Over his last two seasons with Baltimore and the Denver Broncos, he’s made 17 starts, posting a rating of 84.6 with 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

In both campaigns, Flacco was benched in the second half of the year for a rookie QB and the teams got monumentally better in his absence.

He’s 35 and he has 171 career starts but Flacco’s next job, should he not retire as a one-time Super Bowl champion with a lot of money, is as a backup. Flacco, and the other two guys at least, may all have to wait until after teams have made their QB draft decisions.

Andy Dalton

In a very similar category to Flacco, though I think I prefer Dalton slightly at this point. The main difference being that as of now, Dalton’s final year is still controlled by the Cincinnati Bengals. They could afford to keep him around to mentor Joe Burrow — a process that may be even more important during a tumultuous offseason for the league and the world — but may also wait and see what sort of trade compensation they could get if another team gets desperate before next season. However, if Cam and Jameis and Flacco are still hanging around, that negates any ongoing trade value for Dalton.

The Bengals would save $17.7 million by releasing him.

Jacoby Brissett

At present, the Colts are paying Rivers $25 million and Brissett $21.3 million. Do you expect them to pay these two QBs $46.3 million next season simply because they can? (Indy still has $27.8 million in cap space!) They keep saying they want to keep Brissett but ... why? I’m not knocking him per se, but why the need for a $21 million backup who has never been that good of a starter?

If a team only has to pay his $7 million base salary in 2020, then he’s a quality addition. The Colts already paid out his roster bonus and may not have the incentive to move him for less than a decent draft pick. I don’t think Brissett necessarily has a ceiling that goes beyond what Tyrod Taylor can do.

Josh Rosen / Ryan Fitzpatrick

If the Miami Dolphins do draft Tua Tagovailoa or any other quarterback, I can’t imagine them keeping Rosen around as QB3. I would think that forces either Rosen or Fitzpatrick to another team and neither should be costly. Fitzpatrick seems to have a lot more value to Miami than Rosen ... that is if they draft a QB. If they don’t, then obviously the plan is to work with this for another season and attempt the 2021 draft if Rosen is still bad.

Dwayne Haskins???

There’s been plenty of talk about Haskins being the next Rosen and Washington moving on from him only one year after picking him in the first round. Why? Mostly because there’s a new coach (Ron Rivera), new GM (nobody yet actually), and Haskins was terrible. Not as terrible as Rosen in 2018 with the Cardinals but close. However, Josh Allen was also about as bad as Haskins as a rookie and Buffalo managed to make it work towards a playoff berth in his second season.

Should Washington make a bold move with the second overall pick, Haskins is likely available. If they make a different bold move and sign Cam, there’s no reason to move Haskins.

Jarrett Stidham

Throwing this name out there. The Patriots drafted Stidham in the fourth round last year, let Tom Brady leave in free agency, and signed Brian Hoyer. New England could stick with these two and Cody Kessler and see what happens but they may be compelled to draft a QB in the first round or go after one of these vets. If that’s the case, then Hoyer seems like a more reasonable backup option than Stidham and he becomes available.

But if the Patriots don’t want Stidham, why should another team?

Alex Smith

There’s some thought that Smith would be ready to return in 2020 and that thought potentially becomes more real with every day that a potential delay to the season comes to light. Smith hasn’t played in about a year and a half since his leg injury but he’s still only turning 36 in May. Many of his peers are playing into their late 30s and early 40s, so if Smith is healthy enough to play, certainly Washington could be looking to find him a new home.

This is a longshot, longview addition to the list, that’s all.

That about wraps up the names for today. If we wanted to be completist, we could talk about Matthew Stafford if the Detroit Lions wanted to get really frisky at pick three, or very uninteresting options like Brandon Allen, Robert Griffin III, and Mason Rudolph.

As of now, I think it’s obvious why the Chargers are content with Tyrod Taylor. Maybe we’ll see how that picture changes with a couple more months of clarity.