The problem with the quarterback position in the NFL is that 32 teams are looking for franchise quarterbacks and there simply aren’t 32 franchise quarterbacks walking the earth. So when this game of offseason musical chairs happens, some teams are bound to be left with imperfect solutions, solutions-in-progress or wing-and-a-prayer situations that may or may be turn out to be disasters.
That doesn’t sound overly hopeful, but facts are facts, and even after all of the big offseason quarterback dominoes (and a few of the medium-sized ones) have fallen, there are plenty of teams left with questionable quarterback situations.
The pool of possible solutions is drying up, and it’s loaded with guys you’d prefer to take in some sort of combination with each other. AJ McCarron thinks he can be a starter, but so far no team has offered him that chance. Colin Kaepernick has proven he can be a starter, but after so many teams shunned him last year, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever get another chance. Guys like Tom Savage, Drew Stanton and Brock Osweiler have starting experience, but it’s the buckle-your-seatbelt kind.
The Eagles aren’t trading Nick Foles unless a team coughs up at least a first-round pick. The Giants are riding it out with Eli Manning to the end. Jay Cutler cost the Dolphins $10 million last year and maybe should have stayed with his original plan to transition to broadcasting.
Point is, if you’re still looking for a quarterback at this point, your options aren’t great, and you may be thinking about moving up in the draft to take one of the unproven but well-regarded kids coming out of college.
With that in mind, here’s a look at five NFL quarterback situations that still appear the most questionable, and which teams might be looking to take a quarterback early in next month’s draft.
Teams still looking for answers at QB
The coaching staff likes Nathan Peterman, in spite of his inauspicious and unfortunate NFL debut last season. But it’s tough to imagine the Bills just handing him the starting job with no competition at this point. Tyrod Taylor is headed to Cleveland, leaving Peterman alone on the depth chart. McCarron and this one empty chair seem to be eyeing each other, but he has yet to sit in it. And whether he ultimately does or not, Buffalo looks like a team eyeing a move up into the top five of the draft to find its long-term solution at the position. Their pending trade with the Bengals moved them up from No. 21 to No. 12 in the first round, but they also hold the No. 22 pick and three more between 23 and 65. They will be able to trade up if they want to.
They’re set to add Sam Bradford, which could work out great if his knee holds up. But that’s a big “if,” which is why they also appear set to add Mike Glennon once the Bears cut him. Glennon is an insurance policy for Bradford, but both players come with question marks and are, for various reasons, difficult players on which to rely. Arizona is picking 15th overall but could clearly be a team that moves up to take a quarterback if there’s one near the top it likes. They picked up an extra third-round compensatory pick that could help.
The Jets love Josh McCown and what he brought them last year, so after missing out on Kirk Cousins they brought him back and also will be bringing in former Vikings prospect Teddy Bridgewater. The Jets pick sixth in the draft and could add a rookie as well. (They hold an extra second-round pick from the Sheldon Richardson trade and could move up if need be.) It’s a scattershot approach designed to maximize their chances of success. McCown, they know, can play at an acceptable level while they figure out what else they have behind him, whether Bridgewater can be a starter after two years off due to injury and how long it might take for their rookie to get ready.
The Dolphins appear set to roll with Ryan Tannehill after he missed last year with an ACL tear, but backup Matt Moore is a free agent and they have no real contractual commitment to Tannehill beyond 2018. This is the kind of spot in which McCarron might want to go if he can’t find an obvious starting opportunity, as one could come open here at some point soon. The Dolphins hold the 11th pick in the draft but don’t have the extra picks in the later rounds that some of these other teams have to help them move up.
Taylor is certainly an upgrade over what the Browns had in 2017, and it’d be shocking if the Browns didn’t also take a quarterback with the first pick in the draft. (If they don’t, they’ll surely take one at No. 4, a pick they added when the Texans traded up for Deshaun Watson last year.) Cleveland has been active in free agency putting pieces around Taylor, and the stronger the group around him, the better chance he has to succeed. He was always better in Buffalo when Sammy Watkins and LeSean McCoy were healthy and on the field together.
Other teams that could take QBs in Round 1
Pick: No. 2
The Giants are in position to draft Eli Manning’s successor if they fall in love with one. At this point, the tea leaves seem to indicate they’ll go in a different direction, though.
Pick: No. 5
Pick: No. 13
Again, they’re bringing in Alex Smith, who’ll start for the foreseeable future. But if there’s a long-term successor about whom they feel good, why not?
Pick: No. 16
They’re tied to Joe Flacco for one more year and maybe two, but Ryan Mallett hasn’t proven to be a reliable backup and it might be time to think about the future.
Pick: No. 17
The Chargers have a fairly loaded roster, and Philip Rivers is 36.
Pick: No. 27
Like the Chargers, the Saints have a fairly loaded roster, and Drew Brees is 39.
Pick: No. 28
Ben Roethlisberger is now saying he wants to play three more years, but that could change at any time. It’d be a mile surprise to see the Steelers spend this pick on a quarterback, but it’s not insane.
Pick: No. 29
Kind of a broken record down here, except for Jacksonville the issue with their starter isn’t age, it’s consistency. Blake Bortles just re-upped, but the Jags can get out of the deal after one year with minimal pain or two with none.
Pick: No. 31
Hey, did ya hear? Tom Brady will be 41 when the season starts. And they shipped out potential successor Jimmy Garoppolo in October. Free agency has left the Pats with more needs than usual, so maybe a tackle or a receiver makes more sense on Day 1. But you never know.