When we see Tom Brady hoisting the Lombardi trophy, NFL fans know it’s time to focus on the offseason. Leaguewide, there is a lot of uncertainty at the quarterback position with one blockbuster trade already in the books and the potential for a lot more turnover under center. Not all teams will be looking to make a change at QB though – so as we prep for a chaotic offseason, let’s see just how safe your team’s quarterback is ahead of the 2021 season.
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Run It Back
Barring anything absolutely mind-blowing none of these 11 franchises will have their eyes on a change at QB. Largely made up of No. 1 picks, Super Bowl winners and league MVP’s the fan bases of these squads can sit back and watch the drama unfold around them.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tom Brady
Kansas City Chiefs – Patrick Mahomes
Even though the Chiefs got smoked in the Super Bowl, Patrick Mahomes wasn’t to blame for their shortcomings. With a healthy O-line intact again, expect Kansas City to be right amongst the favourites for next year’s championship.
Arizona Cardinals – Kyler Murray
8-8 isn’t the greatest win-loss record, but Kyler Murray still had an impressive sophomore season. Murray improved his quarterback play and managed to run for 819 yards in 2020 – the 7th most rushing yards ever by a QB in a single season.
Baltimore Ravens – Lamar Jackson
The 2019 MVP winner didn’t fire in the same way last season, however, he won’t be going anywhere. Baltimore is already talking about an extension for Jackson with their offence built around the versatile quarterback.
Tennessee Titans – Ryan Tannehill
Ever since he took over the starting job in Tennessee, Tannehill has helped turn the fortunes of the Titans around. An 18-8 record coupled with four playoff games means Tannehill deserves to be trusted under center – for now.
Image from atozsportsnashville.com
Cleveland Browns – Baker Mayfield
Baker Mayfield is fresh off leading the Browns to their first winning season since 2007, their first playoff appearance since 2002 and their first playoff win since 1994. There are still some concerns around his quarterbacking ability, but Cleveland won’t be making a drastic change just yet.
Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow
Injury was the only thing that could slow down the No. 1 pick from the 2020 draft class, with Joe Burrow on pace to throw for nearly 4,500 yards and 20+ TDs before rupturing his ACL. He may miss a few early contests in the 2021 season, but he is clearly the answer for the Bengals at quarterback.
Buffalo Bills – Josh Allen
Players aren’t meant to take a leap in production the way Josh Allen did this past season, going from a somewhat questionable passer to now being viewed as a dynamic, dual-threat QB. After steering Buffalo all the way to the AFC title game, expect Allen and the Bills to challenge for a Super Bowl berth once again.
Los Angeles Chargers – Justin Herbert
No rookie quarterback has thrown more touchdowns than Justin Herbert did in year one, with the Chargers’ newest spearhead finding the endzone 31 times in his first 15 career games. He isn’t going anywhere in a hurry.
Los Angeles Rams – Matthew Stafford
After pulling the trigger on a Matthew Stafford trade, the Rams will be out to make another Super Bowl run after falling short against New England just two seasons ago. Stafford turned 33 just a few weeks ago, but he still has plenty to offer in Los Angeles.
Detroit Lions – Jared Goff
The other end of the Lions-Rams trade saw Jared Goff arrive in Detroit to try and revive his career. With his four-year extension kicking in this offseason, the Lions appear happy to trust Goff under center in the hope he can succeed in his new home and steer Detroit to their first playoff appearance since 2016.
Seemingly Set In Stone
The next five teams on the list don’t need to make a change at quarterback and all reports indicate that they’ll stick with their 2020 starters. However, with the exception of Dak Prescott, it’s fair to assume that the players on this list won’t drive a ton of success next season, so if an upgrade is available, they could pull a swift one and shock us all.
Dallas Cowboys – Dak Prescott
A shattered right ankle ruled Dak Prescott out in Week 5 and all signs point to him resigning with Dallas in the coming weeks/months. It makes sense for both parties to agree to a new contract, but the Cowboys have waited until the last possible chance to secure Prescott on a long-term deal. I can’t imagine him turning his back on Dallas in pursuit of a higher payday, but if someone drops the bag, we may see Dak wearing a different uniform in 2021.
Minnesota Vikings – Kirk Cousins
Trade rumours are hard to avoid at this time of the year and right now Kirk Cousins’ name is circulating the rumour mill. Minnesota is adamant they aren’t looking to deal Cousins away, with the Vikings’ play-caller set to make $21M in the upcoming season and $35M in 2022. While the franchise has had varying success with Cousins at QB, an upgrade at the position would certainly be welcomed.
Oakland Raiders – Derek Carr
In a similar boat to Cousins, Derek Carr hasn’t done anything ‘wrong’ in the past few seasons, but his name is constantly coming up in fake trade ideas. Since Jon Gruden arrived in 2018, the Raiders are yet to have a winning season and if they continue trusting Carr I do wonder how legitimate their chances of contending truly are.
Image from stillcurtain.com
Denver Broncos – Drew Lock
The Broncos were whacked with injuries in 2020, with important wide receiver Courtland Sutton one big omission from Denver’s lineup. With him in uniform, Drew Lock would stand a much greater chance of success and while I have my doubts over Lock’s ability, he deserves a chance with a healthy roster to see what he’s capable of in year three.
New York Giants – Daniel Jones
When draft night rolled around in 2019 the Giants shocked everyone by picking Daniel Jones 6th overall. There are plenty of holes you can identify in his game, but a portion of his poor play can be attributed to New York’s woeful O-line. Shore that up and we might see Jones deliver on the potential he is supposed to possess.
Philip Rivers called time on his NFL career already this offseason and the popular belief is at least one of these players will follow him off into the sunset. A pair of franchises icons probably deserve to end their playing careers on their own terms and we may have seen them both play their final down.
New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees
There’s been no official word on Drew Brees’ retirement yet, but all signs point to the Saints legend bowing out after 20 seasons of pro football. Brees battled multiple broken ribs in the middle of the year which forced NOLA to start Taysom Hill in four games, with the QB/TE gadget averaging 208 passing yards a contest while running for 4 touchdowns. I can’t see the Saints trusting Hill with the keys to the offence for 16 games next year and their backup Jameis Winston comes off their books and will demand a higher salary to keep him around. With Brees renegotiating his contract, New Orleans may be able to find a serviceable stopgap at quarterback to replace the future HOFer, but he’ll have to be cheap.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Ben Roethlisberger
A succession plan may be in place for the Steelers, with the franchise opting to snap Dwayne Haskins up after he was cut by the WFT. It’s a fine low-risk singing by Pittsburgh, with no guarantees Ben Roethlisberger will be back in 2021. The aging veteran was a large part of their 11-game winning streak throughout the season, but it was evident to anyone who watched the Steelers play that Big Ben doesn’t have a lot left in the tank. Complicating matters, Pittsburgh’s longtime center Maurkice Pouncey announced his own retirement earlier this week, which only gives Roethlisberger another reason to hang em’ up.
Now things start to get interesting. Three veterans who have spent their entire careers with their respective franchises are no certainty to return next year, especially if you read into recent reports/rumours. By no means do these squads need to act quickly, but they will all draw serious interest as teams look for a change at quarterback.
Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan
Atlanta’s QB could be set for a fresh start with his future at the Falcons unclear, to say the least. With the franchise undergoing a ton of change in their coaching/front office ranks, owner Arthur Blank didn’t rule out the possibility of Ryan or star WR Julio Jones being traded this offseason. Hitting reset and investing in the draft or in another young gun could be a wise pivot for Atlanta. Watch this space.
Seattle Seahawks – Russell Wilson
On average, Russell Wilson has been sacked 43.8 times per season in his nine-year career – a higher average than any other quarterback since the 1970 NFL merger. With that in mind, you can understand why Wilson is frustrated by the number of hits he is taking which has added fuel to fire surrounding a potential Wilson exit. He’s more than allowed to voice his concerns, but I’d still be shocked if he wasn’t in a Seahawks jersey next season.
Green Bay Packers – Aaron Rodgers
Similar to the Russell Wilson situation, just because there are rumbling of Aaron Rodgers bailing from Wisconsin doesn’t mean it will come to fruition. However, when there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. Speaking of fire, Rodgers had one lit under his ass when the Packers chose to draft Jordan Love with the 26th overall pick last offseason which helped fuel the third MVP campaign of his career. If Green Bay stumbles next season or plays their cards wrong, Rodgers might opt to end his career elsewhere, but I can’t see a move coming this offseason.
Invested in the Trade Market/Draft
And then there were 11. These are the teams we really want to zero in on this offseason, with this third of the league capable of making a lot of other dominos fall depending on their decisions. Young prospects, bridge quarterbacks and players compared to Michael Jordan can all be found here and it seems like most if not all of these franchises will be starting someone new at QB in the next NFL season.
The big enchilada. Deshaun Watson asked to be traded nearly three weeks ago as the Houston Texans seemingly fall apart at the seams. The franchise is adamant they plan on keeping Watson, but I can’t see their tactic working out given their QB’s displeasure. Just this weekend franchise stalwart JJ Watt also asked for his release from the team, signally the beginning of a new era in Houston. The New York Jets (owners of the No. 2 overall pick) and the Miami Dolphins (owners of the No. 3 overall pick) are the odds on favourites to land Watson and if the Texans can fetch another few first-rounders and/or some young impact players at the same time it’d be wise for them to free Watson and invest in the draft.
This one is tricky with the possibility that neither of Chicago’s current quarterbacks will be on the roster a few months from now. Having traded for Nick Foles last offseason both he and the 2nd pick in 2017 Mitchell Trubisky aren’t the long-term answers under center. Two wildcard losses in three seasons appear to be the ceiling with either of these players as their starter, which indicates they should explore an upgrade at the position. The Bears are reportedly interested in trading for Carson Wentz and if they can’t land him, Chicago should have their sights set on a veteran player of his ilk – perhaps like Jimmy Garoppolo, Teddy Bridgewater or at worst, Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Speaking of Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina’s starter last year has had his name thrown around in a fair deal of trade rumours since the season concluded. Reports filtered through after the Matthew Stafford blockbuster that the Panthers put Bridgewater and the No. 8 overall pick on the table in an effort to land the former Lion. It appears as though his tenure in Carolina is set to be short-lived, with the franchise eager to include him in a deal or have him serve as a bridge QB (pun intended) once they draft his successor as early as this offseason. Two years still remain on the 3-year, $63M deal he signed with the Panthers last offseason, but by adding other assets to a trade package Bridgewater could find a new home before the next season commences.
Image from dknation.draftkings.com
San Fransisco 49ers
After making the Super Bowl just 12 months ago, Jimmy G and the 49ers don’t seem to be as happily married as first thought. One likely scenario could see San Fran draft a replacement and allow him to compete with Garoppolo for the title of QB1 in training camp. The former Patriot has had his fair share of injury issues over the past few years, however, he owns a 22-8 record as their starter in three and a half seasons so there is no immediate haste for San Fransisco to pull the trigger on a trade. Unless the Niners can enter the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, I’d be surprised to see Garoppolo playing for another franchise in 2021. Stranger things have happened though…
The pick hasn’t been made yet, but every man, woman and child believes Trevor Lawrence will become Jacksonville’s starter in the new campaign. The former Clemson Tiger and 2018 national champ has been one of the hottest collegiate products in recent memory and was poised to become an early pick as soon as he declared for the draft. There’s no reason to overthink this one. Unless the Jags dangle the No. 1 pick in a trade for an elite QB, Lawrence will be their guy.
New England Patriots
The Cam Newton experiment flat out failed last year, leaving New England in a precarious position. With questionable talent on their roster, the Patriots are hoping their huge amount of salary cap space can cure some problems this offseason, but it won’t solve all their issues. Given the position the franchise finds themselves in they seem best suited to opt for youth to replace Newton, allowing that player to develop and placing the complementary pieces around him. A young gun looking for a fresh start like Sam Darnold, Jameis Winston or maybe even Mitchell Trubisky could make sense – although I think they’re best served to use the 15th overall pick in the draft to grab their guy.
Washington Football Team
Alex Smith and Taylor Heinicke are the only QBs currently on Washington’s roster. While Heinicke generated plenty of positive buzz for his postseason showing and Smith is the reigning winner of the Comeback Player of the Year award, it’d be unwise to trust them for an entire 16 game slate. For the WFT to maintain their spot in the playoffs they’ll need an upgrade under center which could see them get desperate and make a move for a Derek Carr, Teddy Bridgewater, Nick Foles type. Going down that route makes a bit more sense rather than dipping back into the draft, so don’t be surprised if the Football Team is active in the trade market.
New York Jets
All signs point to Sam Darnold calling somewhere else home next season, but the big question for the Jets is who will be his replacement? NYJ fans will be hoping that replacement is Deshaun Watson and hiring head coach Robert Salah has them in the box seat to land the touted play-caller. Plugging Watson into their lineup would give New York a SERIOUS upgrade at quarterback, but the rest of their roster still leaves a lot to be desired. If they really do want to move on from Sam Darnold, given how their depth chart looks starting from the bottom and working their way upwards makes the most sense. Trevor Lawrence won’t be up for grabs when they’re picking 2nd overall, but they still have their pick from the rest of the bunch and if the Jets are keen on one of the quarterback prospects in this class, that’s the path they should go down.
The retirement of Philip Rivers means Indianapolis needs to find another QB – ASAP. Their defence and skills position players are more than capable of steering them towards success, but just how far they go will be dictated by who steps in for Rivers. Carson Wentz has long been linked to the Colts and if Philadelphia is ready to move him on, then he makes perfect sense as a replacement. Drafting another quarterback could be justifiable if someone slides down the pecking order, but the Colts are virtually in win-now mode, so trading for Wentz or another established player like Matt Ryan or Jimmy Garoppolo is the route they should go down.
I’ve already dangled Carson Wentz’s name out there as a target for a QB hungry team and despite varying reports around his trade value, a change of scenery might be the kickstart he needs. Philly won’t have to start from scratch either with Jalen Hurts showing flashes of promise in four starts during his rookie campaign. There is a scenario where the Eagles hold Wentz and allow him to try and earn his starting job back, but I think flicking him out for whatever assets you can and building around Hurts is the logical choice.
For a team that drafted such an elite college prospect just one year earlier, there is a large amount of noise around who their 2021 starter should be. Obviously, if you can land the disgruntled Texan in Deshaun Watson, Miami should call the league office and make that trade official, but it’s not fair to give up on Tua Tagovailoa yet. His well-documented dislocated hip injury may mean Tua never becomes the player he looked like at Alabama, but it’s too early to give up hope entirely. Adding a steady veteran for insurance makes sense for the Dolphins and unless they can acquire Watson, it’s smart for them to run it back with Tagovailoa.