Quarterback carousel on tap for NFL off-season
Jaguars and Jets will likely take advantage of talented draft class, writes John Clayton.
During the off-season, NFL teams aggressively made changes at quarterback. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the biggest splash, landing Tom Brady on a two-year deal. The Indianapolis Colts also went for experience in signing Philip Rivers, as did the Carolina Panthers, who brought in Teddy Bridgewater.
In the draft, the Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers used topsix picks to nab Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert, respectively. Burrow's season ended early with a nasty knee injury and Tagovailoa has been up and down, but all three have shown promise.
Expect more changes at the position this off-season, with an intriguing draft class, a handful of free agents, and some big names who could be on the trading block.
The Washington Football Team made the first notable move on Monday, releasing 2019 first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins.
We're going to try to predict the destinations for several intriguing quarterbacks in 2021.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: TREVOR LAWRENCE
The Jaguars locked up the No. 1 pick on Sunday after losing to Chicago and dropping to 1-14 while the New York Jets were beating Cleveland. Lawrence will almost certainly be the quarterback the Jaguars — who are searching for a new GM and likely a new head coach — rebuild their franchise around. The Clemson star is considered to be the highest-rated quarterback since Andrew Luck in 2012.
NEW YORK JETS: JUSTIN FIELDS OR ZACH WILSON
A two-game winning streak took the Jets out of the running for Lawrence, but in Fields (Ohio State) and Wilson (BYU) they'll still have the option of selecting a talented quarterback with the No. 2 choice. The question for general manager Joe Douglas is whether to draft a QB and get trade value for 2018 No. 3 pick Sam Darnold or build around Darnold by trading down the draft and adding picks. Like the Jags, the Jets are likely to have a new coach next season.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: MATTHEW STAFFORD
With major changes coming to Detroit in the form of a new coach and GM, the Lions may move on from Stafford, who has been very good for the franchise, but hasn't won a playoff game in part because of the lack of talent around him. Detroit could be in position to draft a quarterback in the first round, and either Fields or Wilson could be a prime target.
The 49ers have to think about moving Jimmy Garoppolo, who has missed 23 of 48 starts because of injury since being acquired from New England.
San Francisco won't give up a first-round pick for Stafford, but a second- or third-rounder could be enough. If Detroit hires 49ers defensive co-ordinator Robert Saleh as its next head coach, he could help broker the deal.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: SAM DARNOLD
Colts coach Frank Reich believes Rivers has two more years left. But GM Chris Ballard might be tempted to pair Darnold with Reich if the Jets are willing to move him for a secondor third-round pick. Re-signing Rivers and adding Darnold would provide the best of both worlds: compete for the post-season with Rivers while reconstructing Darnold's career in the hopes he takes over as the starter in a year or two.
CHICAGO BEARS: JIMMY GAROPPOLO
Mitchell Trubisky's play in recent weeks could convince the Bears to keep him, particularly if they make the playoffs. But he'll be a free agent, and they won't pay a ton of money to bring him back. Garoppolo has proved to be a very good game manager when healthy and could be available for a decent price if he's cut by San Francisco, which could also make him available in a trade.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: JACOBY BRISSETT
It's hard to imagine the Patriots will bring back Cam Newton, but even if they do, they'll be adding competition. The Patriots probably will draft a quarterback, but Bill Belichick will want veterans to surround him. New England could be interested in a Garoppolo reunion, or they could bring back Brissett, who no longer has a place in Indianapolis, at a low price.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS: BEN ROETHLISBERGER
Retirement rumours have followed Big Ben for the past few years, but he's had a resurgent season at 38, most recently leading a comeback win over the Colts to move the Steelers to 12-3. All signs point toward Roethlisberger being the starter again next year.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: TAYSOM HILL AND JAMEIS WINSTON
The odds favour Drew Brees, who turns 42 in January, retiring after the season. The thought in New Orleans is to let Hill and Winston compete for the starting job. Coach Sean Payton likes both players, but Hill, who is under contract for next year, didn't prove when he started in place of the injured Brees that he can perform well against a strong defence. Winston has yet to get his chance in New Orleans. He'll be a free agent, but could be brought back on an affordable deal.
One wild card to watch is Stafford, but he might be too expensive for the Saints.