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The Quarterback Carousel

The National Football League is a cruel mistress, a thankless beast and the definition of a what have you done for me lately situation. Without question the NFL is one of the most difficult leagues in the world to ply your trade. A player will average out at around 3.3 years per career in the NFL, which for such a prestigious profession seems very short. Arguably the most important position in the team is Quarterback, at least that is how the media frame it, and so the pressure on these players is immeasurable.

Image Credit – Kiplinger

Players entering the league know how fickle a lifestyle this is and so therefore should be ready for the trials and tribulations they will face on a daily basis. That being said, I cannot imagine it is any easier to take when your time is over, and the team decide to go in another direction. We dive into the possible free agents, the potential trades and sprinkle in a few surprise predictions who may ride the great Quarterback Carousel this offseason.

The Free Agents

Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys

Potentially the hottest prospect entering Quarterback free agency, Dak Prescott is the top of most of the lists of Quarterback needy teams. He is an above average passer who honestly does not seem to get the respect he deserves within NFL circles. He has never finished with a losing record whilst in the NFL, and although he went down injured at 2-3 this season, looking at the NFC East would you bet against the Cowboys winning that division with him healthy.

Image Credit – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Prescott will have the pick of many teams if he wants to test the water and should be the number one prospect going into the offseason should he choose to not resign. He will likely be in two minds, on the one hand, the division is looking for a strong team to lead them out of the losing records and he will feel he can do this. On the other hand, the Cowboys had the chance to pay him and they did not, following a season ended by injury, he may have lost the bargaining chips that he had.

Prediction: Dak tests free agency and gets paid serious money to move on from the Cowboys. Replaces Cam Newton in New England.

Dwayne Haskins – Unattached

Where do we even begin with Dwayne Haskins? The young, promising Quarterback seemingly destined to throw it all away. He is yet to really show what he can do in this league and with the limited exposure he has had, it has produced average stats for an average player. Each his two seasons he has averaged a passer rating of 74.4 and managed 13 total touchdowns to his 14 total interceptions. These stats are average at best, so why does he make this list? The drama that comes with the player.

Image Credit – CBS Sports

He has only ever played for an average Washington team and with obvious talent, surely any team could easily take a flyer on a one year prove it contract with him. Character issues are his number 1 enemy though, especially after breaking Covid-19 protocols during the season to attend a strip club without a mask. He is done in Washington and like his predecessors who had a lot of talent but were not worth the risk his time might be over in the league, I do however have one possible solution.

Prediction: Haskins gets his final chance, with the Jags. The coach who drafted him, Jay Gruden, is their offensive co-ordinator, so watch for him to lobby for him to be brought in for special packages.

Cam Newton – New England Patriots

What happened to the former MVP and Super Bowl runner up, in 2015 he was on top of the world, but since then it has been a slow descent into an average player. Cam is a pioneer, he helped to revolutionise the Quarterback position and showed others how different can sometimes mean good. Newton has broken 10+ rushing touchdowns in 3 of his seasons in the league, which is an incredible statistic on its own, however he did through 10 interceptions for only 8 touchdowns this season.

Image Credit – The Providence Journal

Newton running the offense the patriots went 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Many say that he is slowing down, however while it is only natural to slow down, he still has a role in the league. He could be a high priced and dangerous backup, but that still does not feel enough for him. I personally still think he has the potential to start and my prediction here is both left field and will be explained properly later.

Prediction: Cam Newton did not really earn himself the big contract after his prove it year, but what he did do is turn Sean McVay’s head. Newton to the Rams, with him winning the starting job over John Wolford and Blake Bortles.

Mitchell Trubisky – Chicago Bears

Now we all know Mitchell Trubisky played well down the stretch for Chicago, so why then is he on this list. Well Bear with me here, thank you Rex, and I will explain why Mitchell’s time in the windy city is over. Chicago likely want to reset themselves at Quarterback. They are always a game team and are notoriously difficult to play against even when they play badly. Of the 8 games they lost this year, 5 were from within a touchdown.

Image Credit – Sports Illustrated

Surely then they have a Quarterback who they could look to build with the future in mind. Well, no, the Bears need to reset, as do many teams around the league, and the Quarterback position is key for then to do that. Trubisky has always been an average starter in Chicago with average coaching and a great defence. Look for Chicago to look to free agency too and maybe the draft for the long-term answer.

Prediction: Mitch has two paths at this juncture, he either becomes the best back up in football for a contender or he chances his hand at a rebuild project. If Dak stays in Dallas, he could easily go to New England, however I would not be shocked to see him lining up New Orleans next season.

Ryan Fitzpatrick – Miami Dolphins

This one is absolutely personal, and I guess more of a request than a prediction. Now as anyone who has listened to the Undrafted podcast will know I am a Dolphins fan, and as such hold Fitzmagic in very high regard. Honestly though he is a consummate professional and while he is no longer a starting franchise Quarterback, he is an excellent leader and a great plug and play guy while your Rookie learns the ropes.

Image Credit – AP News

He would be a solid addition to a team with a long-term plan that does not involve him and although that would mean the Dolphins say goodbye to him, I cannot imagine a competitor like Fitz wants to sit all season. He still has enough ability to start in the league, for a limited time anyway and as there is likely an opening that would be perfect for him, I could absolutely see this happening. Of course, feel free to stay in South Beach… please.

Prediction: Philip Rivers retires, and the Colts come calling for a solid veteran to hold the fort while they get ready for the Jacob Eason era to begin in Indianapolis.

Honourable mentions:

Jacoby Brissett – Indianapolis Colts

His time with the Colts is over, as evidenced by their pursuit of Philip Rivers last offseason. He can definitely work somewhere and with the Jets likely needing a starter to push their first-round pick to the next level, I would not be shocked to see him in New York this offseason.

Image Credit – Stampede Blue

Tyrod Taylor – Los Angeles Chargers

Losing out on the starting job to Rookie of the year elect Justin Herbert is nothing to be ashamed of and Taylor has proven from the side-lines that he has a role in L.A. Expect him to resign as Herbert’s backup, he is familiar with the role and the team, it makes the most sense for him.

Image Credit – Bolt Beat

The Trades

Carson Wentz – Philadelphia Eagles

A certain former first round pick is unhappy in the city of brotherly love, which is a pretty ironic statement. Wentz was on a massive high following the 2017 season, which although this season did end on the treatment table, his team were able to win a Super Bowl. Much of the plaudits went to him as he put the team at 12-2 before going down injured in week 14. Since then, he has been somewhat injury plagued with any chance of any real momentum being stopped dead in its tracks.

Image Credit – Sky Sports

Entering the 2020 draft, many quarterbacks were up on the board. Jalen Hurts was not considered a first rounder; however, it was common knowledge that whoever drafted him would play him sooner rather than later. He is a very different player to Wentz and when the Quarterback was benched due to poor play in week 13, it was very clear that it hurt. Rumours began immediately and with the obvious talent he possesses, it would be a waste of Wentz time to sit and wait for his chance as a backup.

Prediction: The trade winds are blowing, and Carson Wentz will fly out of Philly on them. Quarterbacks are hot property in the league and a divisional rival would feel very fitting a landing place for him. If the Cowboys lose Prescott or Alex Smith retires, expect a potential deal to be brokered, however I do strongly believe that Wentz will not be an Eagle in 2021.

Sam Darnold – New York Jets

Okay, so hear me out on this one, Sam Darnold is the best prospect at Quarterback who is available this offseason. This is of course a big statement, but I am happy to stand by it. It of course gives me great pleasure to say this next line, but the Jets are bad right now. They are in full rebuild and if not for some late season victories, would have definitely been drafting Trevor Lawrence this year. Now that they have the number 2 pick surely then maybe Darnold is the answer?

Image Credit – Jets Wire – USA Today

Yes, he absolutely should be the answer, but with the full rebuild needed in New York, they will know that Darnold could get them valuable picks and if they are high on Justin Fields or Kyle Trask then he will be out this offseason. With the right coach behind him Darnold could be the answer for a team looking to replace their aging starter with a more long-term plan.

Prediction: I think we might see the number 3 pick from 2018 becoming the long-term replacement for the number 3 pick from the draft 10 years prior. Matt Ryan enters next season at 36 years old, and while he may still have some time left, a year or two with Sam Darnold in the building will make the transition smooth sailing.

The Surprises

Jared Goff – Los Angeles Rams

Big statement here, Jared Goff is on thin ice in Los Angeles and with a poor showing in the playoffs, may see his time with the Rams come to an end. Sean McVay is the best coach in the NFL right now, the Rams contend every year and it absolutely starts at the top with him. He has made this team into a nightmare matchup for anyone, despite the player he has at Quarterback.

Image Credit – AP News

McVay knows he has the best defence in the league, and he has the potential to run this defence with a dynamic offense. I truly believe the Rams have reached their limit with Jared Goff under centre and with players like Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, two outright studs on defence, he has to know the window is closing. Goff would have a better chance in a more static offense, with McVay needing a mobile Quarterback to really get the best from the pieces he has.

Prediction: Tom Brady is 43 years old, and while his body does not seem to age, he cannot have many years left at the top of his game. Imagine a situation where Goff, an established starter in the league, has a year to learn from the greatest Quarterback of all time. This would give the Bucs more time to add weapons and unleash a potentially record-breaking offense under their new franchise Quarterback.

Drew Brees

Rumour has it, Drew Brees is really to hang it all up and ride off into the sunset after this season. The man has nothing left to prove and would end his career on a team that is again the best in their division and one of the best in the league. He has broken records, won a Super Bowl and currently is the only man to pass for 80,000 yards in his career. He is looked at as a hero in New Orleans the man who turned a struggling franchise into a contender and someone who redefined his own career in the process.

Image Credit – NESN.com

For all his plaudits, Drew Brees is slowing down. He has not passed for over 4000 yards in 3 years, which for most people would not be a surprise, but since Brees had done this without fail the previous 12 seasons it is a warning. He is also more injury prone, suffering injuries the last two season, missing 9 total games. If Brees is looking at the exit door, then it is a sign he is done. Will he get his big send off in the playoffs? It would be foolish to bet against him.

Prediction: Drew Brees retires this offseason, he will want to go out at the height of his career as a winning Quarterback on a winning team. Drew Brees is a competitor, and he will not want time to catch up to him. He will go out on his terms and 2020 are his terms. He needs to get fitted for that Gold jacket sooner rather than later.

Tua Tagovailoa

Well, we have to address the Alabama shaped Elephant in the room at some point, and I would like it if you would stop smiling as you read this Adam. The Dolphins Quarterback situation should be set. The veteran Fitzpatrick would hold the fort, for the Rookie phenom to come through when the right time came. At 3-3 the Dolphins went into the bye week on a two-game winning streak and beginning to look good, and Brian Flores decided it was then to make the change.

Image Credit – Yardbreaker.com

Now like most NFL fans I know that Flores is legit, and the switch made a little bit of sense, however the hot potato that followed pauses more questions than answers. Tua started week 7, was pulled for Fitz in week 11, back in for week 12 and pulled again during week 16. An interesting development is the fact for the first time ever a head coach does not fear dropping his franchise Quarterback. Trade rumours are already swirling around the Miami Dolphins only one year into the career of Tagovailoa so what gives?

Prediction: Straight to the point here, Tua is going nowhere, let’s not get hasty. That being said, it is worrying how easily these rumours spread. Miami have the number 3 pick in the draft, which is a huge advantage, especially if they can take the best player available. What happens though if the best player available is a Quarterback. The draft will be a very interesting time, but for now at least this is Tua’s team.

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Stafford dealt to Rams for Goff plus picks - Undrafted - The Network 31st January 2021 at 5:15 am

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