The offseason has begun and free agency is right around the corner for the NFL. About a third of the teams are expected to review options at the most important position on their roster: quarterback. Whether it’s through the draft, via signing or with a trade deal, here we’ll outline what we could see from quarterback-needy teams this offseason.
Drafting the next superstar
The top of this draft will be crowded with trades up and down for a handful of teams. It’s likely that the Houston Texans trade up for this first overall selection. They’re desperately in need of a quarterback to build around and are in the position to make a strong trade offer. In the eventuality they trade up with the Bears, Bryce Young will likely be the first quarterback off the board.
For the second pick in the draft, the Indianapolis Colts will probably imitate Houston and trade up for another quarterback selection. This time it’ll likely be CJ Stroud out of Ohio State. They’ve tried to keep their roster competitive, exchanging veterans ever since Andrew Luck retired. With virtually no success in that department, they may finally give in and draft the guy they think will lead them going forward.
The next quarterback off the board will likely be Will Levis from Kentucky. This specific pick will be an interesting one, with both the Las Vegas Raiders and Carolina Panthers as options. Whichever one doesn’t go with him will likely settle for a free agent or make a trade. The Raiders have been connected to Jimmy Garoppolo, even a trade for Aaron Rodgers or Mac Jones is possible, but it’s more likely that they move up for Levis.
The last consensus early-to-mid first round quarterback is Florida’s Anthony Richardson. With a Ryan Tannehill trade or release imminent, the Tennessee Titans have a clear opportunity to trade up for Richardson. They’re also relatively limited on cash, so this would make sense for them. If not them, then it would be whoever missed out on Levis or potentially even the Atlanta Falcons.
Andy Dalton provided serviceable play from the quarterback position last season, though the New Orleans Saints offense as a whole was rather poor. A switch to Derek Carr is a possible move, or sticking with Dalton another season. As with other teams later on this list, we should inspect an insurance draft pick of a second round quarterback. Hendon Hooker has been heavily linked with the Saints, so that is the best guess as of right now.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a tight spot following Tom Brady’s retirement. He left them with limited money, eliminating most options for quarterback for this season. Bears quarterback Justin Fields has been brought up, but it’s highly improbable he’ll be moved as he continues to progress. It’s likely we’ll see Kyle Trask get a chance in his second season, and the selection of a guy like Tanner McKee or Hendon Hooker, whoever the Saints don’t choose, in the second or third round.
It would be foolish for Minnesota to move on from Kirk Cousins at this point. Cousins has fit in very nicely with the Vikings since his arrival five years ago, having been more than acceptable every year up to last. While last season was certainly not pretty for the veteran, it’s still too early to move on from him. What wouldn’t be surprising is if they decided to jump on a quarterback during the second day of the draft, grabbing whoever is available out of Tanner McKee, Hendon Hooker or even Jaren Hall.
The Baltimore Ravens have been talked about frequently this offseason, with conversation centering around what they decide to do with Jackson. Many experts correctly agree that retaining him is the right thing at this moment. Even when they do talk about moving on from him, it has been mainly in the context of a swap deal for Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins. Either way, we might see them snag a quarterback in the earlier rounds of the draft as well.
Busy trade market
As I previously stated, I find it highly unlikely that Jackson will get traded from Baltimore, nor Fields from Chicago. But there remain a couple big names that will most likely find themselves somewhere else next season. Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Tannehill are the two primary suspects, though it’s more likely that Rodgers retires instead of leaves at this point. If he does, this would leave the Packers with Jordan Love, who they wanted to roll with anyways.
Tannehill has been linked with a handful of teams so far, and Atlanta seems to be the destination best suited for him. The Falcons can then spend their money elsewhere, and add insurance in case Desmond Ridder isn’t the guy they want to support going forwards. Of course they have been mentioned to trade up in the draft, which could still happen even with a trade for Tannehill.
Veteran signing options
With Daniel Jones set to return to New York, Lamar Jackson likely staying put and Tom Brady retiring, free agent options have narrowed before it even started. Dalton, as previously mentioned, could very likely return to the Saints, if not him then another veteran QB. Derek Carr is a tantalizing option, and has begun visiting the New York Jets following his release by the Raiders.
Carr’s best option might be the Jets, though New York could make a push for a guy like Garoppolo as well. Jacoby Brissett has shown himself to be a smart option for a team that has a quarterback but needs an insurance option, which would be great for a team like the Panthers, Raiders or Falcons that could use him to give their younger quarterbacks a chance to adjust.