Every year, the quarterback position is given the lion's share of ESPN and NFL coverage. As the respective leaders of their squads, the men behind center are one of the most crucial elements in determining a team's overall success. As such, teams who are unhappy with their quarterback play will have no problem pursuing other options.
Looking to the 2017 NFL season, this list will countdown 8 NFL QBs who may lose their starting jobs, and 7 others who may keep it. Those whose jobs are safe have displayed a level of consistency which makes them invaluable to their respective squads. Those who are likely to lose their jobs, however, have been anything but. If the 8 quarterbacks I have highlighted as being in danger being benched hope to maintain their jobs for the entire season, they will have to take a major step forward from how they have performed previously.
Even if this is accomplished, however, I cannot see some of them being able to hold off the talented backups behind them. This list should provide a comprehensive list of the NFL quarterback position for the 2017 season.
15 Blake Bortles - In Jeopardy
Blake Bortles stock has not just fallen since his promising rookie campaign in 2015, it has plummeted. After throwing for a 35-18 touchdown to interception ration in that year, Bortles followed it up with a horrific 2016 season which saw him lead the Jaguars to a 3-13 record. You would think that Bortles' previous success and prospect caliber (he was the 3rd-overall pick out of UCF) would provide him some job security, however, reports have surfaced out of the Jacksonville camp that head coach Doug Marrone is considering benching Bortles in favor of veteran Chad Henne. If these talks are going on before the NFL regular season has even started, Bortles will certainly have a short leash, should his performances be lacking when the games actually start.
14 Derek Carr - Safe
Coming off of a season-ending injury, Carr doesn't have quite the momentum that he did midway through the 2016 NFL season. This fact should not, however, cause any doubt about Carr's place in the Raiders organization. After years of toiling at the bottom of the AFC West, Oakland is finally comfortable that they have found "the guy" to lead them to an NFL Championship. As the new face of the franchise, it would take a serious injury setback for the Raiders to even think about replacing Carr. Despite being hurt the last few games of the year, Carr threw for almost 4,000 yards and had a 28-6 touchdown to interception ratio in 2016. The Raiders would be hard pressed to find another young quarterback capable of putting up these kinds of numbers.
13 Ryan Tannehill - In Jeopardy
There is an old adage in the NFL that "you can't lose your job due to injury." The issue with this adage is that it is completely false (just ask Tony Romo). Therefore, do not be surprised if Ryan Tannehill sees himself ousted out of Miami following this season. Many commentators labeled this as a make-or-break year for Tannehill after his last two seasons were derailed by injuries and a general lack of production. When it became apparent that Tannehill had reaggravated his ACL injury and would not be available this season, the Dolphin signed veteran free agent quarterback Jay Cutler. Between Cutler and talented backup Matt Moore, it will be hard for Tannehill to retain his job going into next season.
12 Drew Brees - Safe
In the introduction I talked about the importance of consistency in maintaining one's job as an NFL quarterback. No quarterback has been more consistent over the past six years than Drew Brees. Fantasy footballers know that Brees is good for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns every year. While this makes him an important component for fantasy football teams, it makes him even more important for the real life New Orleans Saints. Since being traded from the San Diego Chargers, Brees has been the bedrock of this team. As such, it would be incredibly surprising to see him lose his starting position at any point this season. The only thing that could stop Brees from starting all 16 games this season would be a significant injury, but even this is unlikely as Brees is one of the least injury-prone players in the entire NFL.
11 Mike Glennon - In Jeopardy
When the Bears cut ties with Jay Cutler this offseason, Chicago fans everywhere breathed a sigh of relief. Even without a surefire replacement, this move signaled a change from the erratic and inconsistent play of Cutler. That was before, however, they signed Mike Glennon to a large multi-year contract. Though he has shown promise at times, Glennon's NFL career has been plagued by many of the issues which Cutler himself faced. This fact, combined with the Bears' drafting of Mitch Trubisky, signals that Glennon's starting time with the Bears will be short-lived. Despite the ridiculous amount of money that Chicago is paying Glennon, any slip up will provide Trubisky an opportunity to slip into the starting role. Whether Trubisky himself will be able to hold onto the job is another story.
10 Cam Newton - Safe
I don't know if there is a former MVP currently in the NFL who is more disrespected than the Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton. Newton won the NFL MVP Award for the 2015 season as part of an impressive campaign in which he led the Panthers to within a game of winning the Super Bowl. Admittedly, Cam and the Panthers ran into the buzzsaw that was the 2015 Broncos, so that may be part of the reason for the disrespect that he has been shown. The other reason why people are no longer quite as high on Newton is his less-than-stellar 2016 season. Despite these troubles, Newton will be the starting quarterback of the Panthers for the foreseeable future. Carolina's entire offense is centered around Newton, and they simply do not have the weapons to support their other (albeit talented) QB, Derek Anderson.
9 Tom Savage - In Jeopardy
It took Tom Savage all of last season to seize the Texans starting quarterback job which was previously held by Brock Osweiler. Unfortunately for him, it is highly likely that he himself will be usurped of the job at some point this season. Savage was serviceable at points of last season, but the selection of DeShaun Watson in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft signals that the team isn't entirely comfortable with Savage as their starter moving forward. This, combined with the fact that the rest of the Texans squad seems Super Bowl-ready, signals that Savage won't have too long of a leash through the season. If the Texans begin to string together losses at any point, you can expect that the QB position is the first thing they will look at altering.
8 Dak Prescott - Safe
With the decline of quarterback Tony Romo, the Dallas Cowboys entered last season in desperate need of finding their next franchise centerpiece. The Cowboys were able to find not one, but two, franchise players in the form of Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. If the phenomenal rookie performance of Prescott alone didn't guarantee him a spot on this list, the offseason turbulence of Elliott certainly did. With Elliott's future in the league now under heavy scrutiny (repeat offenders are heavily punished by the NFL), it is more important than ever that the Cowboys do everything they can to put Prescott in a position to succeed. Having this kind of team support behind him is one of the primary reasons why Prescott has substantial job security heading into this season.
7 Trevor Siemian - In Jeopardy
I doubt if there was anyone more distraught to hear of Peyton Manning's retirement than Von Miller and the Denver Broncos defense. Even at his advanced age (and obviously regressed skill set), Peyton was still a noticeable improvement over the rest of the Denver quarterbacks. After allowing Brock Osweiler to sign with the Houston Texans (a good decision in retrospect), the Broncos have mostly relied on third year quarterback Trevor Siemian. Given how incredibly capable the Broncos defense is, the fact that Siemian was only able to lead this squad to a 9-7 record speaks volumes about his ability to quarterback an NFL team. With former first round pick Paxton Lynch, waiting in the wings, it appears that Siemian's days as the Broncos starting QB may be numbered.
6 Matt Ryan - Safe
Usually winning the league MVP and leading your team to within a fluke 4th quarter of the Super Bowl is enough to ensure that your job is safe for next season. Leading into last season, Matty Ice had just experienced a number of years which can be fairly characterized as mediocre. Ryan's stock was at an all time low when he set forth on his phenomenal 2016 campaign. The Falcons are figured to be Super Bowl contenders again this year, but even if their offense takes a step back, I can't imagine a situation where Ryan would be in any danger of losing his starting position. Falcons fans can rest easy knowing that they will have their franchise quarterback for at least the next handful of seasons.
5 Ben Roethlisberger - In Jeopardy
Of all the quarterbacks who may lose their jobs this season, Ben Roethlisberger is easily the most surprising. A two-time Super Bowl Champion, Ben is one of the few elite quarterbacks in the league. It became apparent this offseason, however, that Roethlisberger's days in the NFL are numbered. After losing to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game, Roethlisberger informed the Steelers this offseason that he was contemplating retirement. Ben elected to return for the 2017 season, but don't be surprised if this is the last season where he dons the black and gold. Therefore, should Ben miss a number of games due to injury (which would not be surprising given his injury history), don't be surprised if Steelers management seeks to permanently replace him with an outside, or in-house, option.
4 Tom Brady - Safe
It would be the ultimate Bill Belichick move if he were to bench his five-timeSuper Bowl winning quarterback in favor of an unproven (albeit promising) prospect. I wouldn't totally put it past The Hoody to eventually make this move, but I doubt that it will be this season. Despite recently turning 40 years old, there was no sign last season of any regression in Brady's game. In the playoffs especially, it was very clear that Brady still has the drive that has made him perhaps the greatest player to ever play the game. No matter how talented Jimmy Garoppolo (or another Patriots quarterback prospect) is, all signs point to this team being Brady's for however long he wants it to be.
3 Alex Smith - In Jeopardy
I don't know if any quarterback outside of Brock Osweiler saw their stock drop more in the 2017 NFL Playoffs than Alex Smith. Despite being an acceptable quarterback for most of his tenure with the Kansas City Chiefs, I think it has become obvious to KC fans and management that this team is severely limited by what Smith is able to do at the quarterback position. This, coupled with the phenomenal performance of Pat Mahomes at training camp and in the preseason, spells trouble for the starting chances of the Utah product. The Chiefs traded an additional first round pick in the 2017 Draft to select Mahomes, so it is obvious that he figures heavily into their future. How early the future will start, however, will be largely determined by how well Smith performs to start this upcoming season.
2 2. Aaron Rodgers - Safe
Despite Tom Brady being perhaps the greatest NFL quarterback of all time (or the GOAT if you will), Aaron Rodgers is currently the best quarterback in the NFL. No matter how terrible the Packers offensive line is, or how beat up their receiving corps are, Rodgers is able to strike intense fear into the hearts of opposing defenses. With a (hopefully) improved line and a healthy Jordy Nelson this season, it is not presumptious to assume that Rodgers will be in the MVP discussion when the 2017 season ends. The Packers organization made the decision of the century when they decided to bench HOF quarterback Brett Favre for Rodgers, and that decision has been paying off ever since. Barring injury, Rodgers will start all 16 games for the Green Bay Packers in 2017.
1 Josh McCown
It is highly likely that New York Jets quarterback, Josh McCown, will lose his starting job at some point this season. This may be surprising to some given how incredibly terrible his backup, Christian Hackenberg, has been during the preseason and training camp. In fact, Hackenberg has been so terrible that the only possible reason that the Jets could go forward with him as the starter is if they want to be as terrible as possible. This is exactly the reason why I think Hackenberg will be the eventual starter, because with teams like the Browns and Rams wallowing in their perpetual awfulness, it is possible that the Jets are trying to lose as many games as possible in order to obtain the #1 pick. This fact, combined with McCown's age and limitations, signal to me that he will not last the whole season as the Jet's starting quarterback.