The biggest news thus far from Super Bowl week involved a team that crashed and burned out of the AFC Wild Card round and a team that has been crashing and burning since Terminator 2. There’s an almost unprecedented potential for quarterback maneuvering on tap this offseason, and that doesn’t even include Washington’s trade for Alex Smith.
Among the players not listed below, here are a few that have an outside chance at finding new homes this offseason: Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill, Jimmy Garoppolo, AJ McCarron, Josh McCown, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Teams that miss out on top draft talent might even consider a trade to acquire a cheap asset like Jacoby Brissett.
It makes for a lot of excitement, but most of those players won’t be going anywhere – or won’t make a huge splash when they do. Brees has made it known he wants to stay in New Orleans. New York Giants’ GM Dave Gettleman called Eli his quarterback. The Dolphins have an out because the dead money on Tannehill’s contract drops from $24.9 million to $4.6 million. That doesn’t necessarily mean Adam Gase will move on. San Francisco fans will riot if the 49ers don’t franchise tag or extend Jimmy G. AJ McCarron is an unknown, Josh McCown could probably only start for the Jets, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is equipped with backup voodoo that dooms starters to injury.
However, five notable quarterbacks will almost certainly relocate in the months to come. Here’s my 100% accurate list of who will move and where they’ll play.
1. Kirk Cousins – Denver Broncos
The Alex Smith trade finally guaranteed an end to the Kirk Cousins drama in Washington. Some have linked him to the Jets, and Cousins even communicated an openness to play for Cleveland. Neither will happen. He’s going to join a potential winner. The Jaguars would be an absolutely terrifying, slam dunk option. Unfortunately, the team appears set on Blake Bortles. They have to stick to that tune at the moment even if it isn’t true. Bortles underwent wrist surgery last week. His 19.1 million fifth-year option is only guaranteed for injury. That means he’s promised the money if he doesn’t pass a physical by March 14, the start of the new league year. It makes outbidding teams problematic. Denver becomes the next best destination. Their defense has a shorter shelf life than Jackonville’s, but it was still excellent this season in terms of yardage allowed per game (290). If anything, the ticking clock means Elway will abandon his quarterback carousel of mediocrity and land Cousins. He just needs to clear cap space to do it. One route involves trading cornerback Aqib Talib. Coincidentally, Denver reportedly offered Talib for Alex Smith before the Redskins nudged ahead.
2. Case Keenum – Arizona Cardinals
All three Vikings quarterbacks are free agents. I’m pegging Teddy Bridgewater as the guy in Minnesota next season. He’s the youngest of the three and seems to vibe the most with head coach Mike Zimmer. Minnesota can obviously still gear the offense toward Case Keenum following Pat Shurmur’s departure, but it’s understandable if the team assumes Keenum won’t reach the same highs. It’s also difficult to see a stable quarterback situation resulting from both Bridgewater and Keenum returning. The Cardinals have an opening at quarterback thanks to Carson Palmer’s retirement. They sit at 15th in the draft with at least four quarterback-needy teams in front of them. It’s possible Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen fall to them. Either prospect would require a year or two of development. Enter Case Keenum. If he proves to be the stud from 2017, great. Ride that for as long as possible. If not, Arizona can utilize Keenum as a stopgap until their future proves ready.
3. Tyrod Taylor – Jacksonville Jaguars
There’s virtually no way Buffalo holds onto Tyrod Taylor after benching him in the middle of the playoff run. The Bills didn’t deserve to reach the postseason based on that move alone. Seriously, Nathan Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half. Taylor tossed four all year. Taylor has obvious shortcomings as a quarterback, but he fits the need of Jacksonville’s smashmouth offense. Take a look at these interception numbers: 18, 17, 16, 16, 13. One of those is Tyrod’s interception total as a three-year starter for the Bills (16). The others are Blake Bortles’ single season interception totals. The Jaguars can sit pretty and hope to keep the ball out of Bortles hands again next year. They could sign a veteran backup. Both are distinct (and likelier) possibilities. The splashy, exciting move to speculate about involves trading for Tyrod Taylor. If Bortles remains due to the fifth-year debacle, the team should hold an open quarterback competition in camp. Bortles must succeed or fail with legitimate pressure behind him. Having Chad Henne as number two on the depth chart is a starting quarterback’s stress equivalent of playing Madden in his mom’s basement. On the off chance Bortles does clear his physical and receives walking papers, Taylor is a solid replacement. Plus, Buffalo has two first and two second round draft picks. Add more draft capital from the Jags, and the Bills possess the ammo to catapult up for a franchise QB.
2. Sam Bradford – Cleveland Browns
This move makes logical, football sense. The Browns need to draft an early quarterback for the umpteenth time. Sam Bradford can mentor both that prospect and DeShone Kizer while he proves he’s healthy enough to start elsewhere in the NFL. Suggesting this move also makes Browns-bashing sense. It’s impossible not to feel sorry for Sam Bradford given his brutal injury history, but you’re telling me there’s a chance to see Cleveland add their 356th starting quarterback this century… one that will likely suffer an ailment and force yet another poor soul to replace him? Sold. There’s also the fact that Sam Bradford could actually make the Browns dangerous given their countless draft picks and explosive weapons already on the team.
1. Nick Foles – New York Jets
Nick Foles will still be under contract in 2018, and the Eagles would love to keep him as an insurance policy. Results might force their hand if he miraculously guides them to their first Super Bowl in franchise history. His trade value will never be higher. He would have undoubtedly earned another shot at a starting job. The Jets are a mess at the position and have a chance to change that in the draft assuming there’s no shuffle at the top. There’s no reason they can’t double dip and address their quarterback room via trade as well. Foles is a younger alternative to Josh McCown and can temporarily beat out most of this year’s draft prospects.
Header Photo: Star Tribune