It only took one week of the NFL Playoffs for quarterback talks to begin again. Marcus Mariota is a bust and the Titans should consider moving on from him? When someone catches a touchdown they throw to themselves and lays out a heavy block to clinch the game, that may help their case. Blake Bortles is back and ready to dominate? If not for Buffalo having to play Nathan Peterman on the final drive, the Jaguars might have been one-and-done.
Not even the playoffs and the presumption that it’ll be the New England Patriots winning the AFC is enough to end the talks of which quarterbacks are going to go where this offseason. People are already deciding which quarterbacks need to be dumped and with the Wild Card games having finished, we’re going to join in the fun. Any replacements on this list are eligible to come over in any form, meaning someone like Eli Manning who could be traded or cut this offseason can be included in some form.
So instead of starting a current franchise in Madden and doing what you’d normally do to fix your quarterback situation, let’s look at teams who need to get their signal callers figured out and who should replace said quarterbacks.
16. Dump: Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
As we saw in the Bills’ AFC Wild Card loss to Jacksonville, Tyrod Taylor is more valuable than anyone is willing to admit. But after a midseason benching that led to Nathan Peterman throwing five interceptions in one half against the Los Angeles Chargers and spearheading numerous racial debates that we’re not going to touch, Taylor was almost guaranteed out of Buffalo by the time we hit December. Helping the Bills to a playoff berth should help his stock on the open market, enough for teams like the Jets, Browns, and maybe even Cardinals to give him a call.
For us, we actually think the Pittsburgh Steelers are an interesting option if Ben Roethlisberger decides to call it quits. Could Taylor bring a new element to the Steelers’ offense alongside Antonio Brown and, if he re-signs, Le’Veon Bell?
15. Replacement: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
Why not? Though Baker Mayfield is going to bring a lot of baggage and character concerns to wherever he gets drafted, he also has immense talent that would make him an easy first-round pick in most years. Buffalo has the 21st and 22nd overall picks in this year’s first round, which is right around where Mayfield should go if a team is wanting to use a first-round pick on him. Mayfield wouldn’t quite have the best weapons immediately, especially if LeSean McCoy is nearing any type of regression, but he’d be an interesting fit in upstate New York.
What will hurt the Bills if they draft the Oklahoma star is they’d be trading Taylor’s excellent footwork and agility for Mayfield’s mediocre skills in those departments. But the Bills need to do something to avoid another lengthy playoff drought!
14. Dump: Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
Another quarterback who isn’t getting the pass (no pun intended) for a playoff win, Blake Bortles’ days in Jacksonville have run their course. Doug Marrone inherited a mediocre quarterback who was inconsistent for most of 2017, had a few good weeks, and then was mediocre once more down the stretch. There’s an argument to be made that Bortles saved his job for next year because he didn’t force the ball against the Bills, but how far does that conversation extend?
Unless the Jaguars are able to flip Bortles in the spring (could the Washington Redskins be interested if Kirk Cousins leaves?), he should come to training camp with the upper hand on the team’s starting job. However, that shouldn’t stop the Jaguars from drafting someone like…
13. Replacement: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Though Rudolph doesn’t have the scrambling ability that Bortles showed off in the AFC Wild Card Game, the senior definitely can throw with the best of them. Rudolph improved each year at Oklahoma State, throwing for a 65-13 TD-INT ratio over the past two seasons and completing at least 63 percent of his passes in each of the past three campaigns. I’d have to imagine that’s a bit better than what Bortles will bring to the table in the long term, yeah?
If Jacksonville were to draft Rudolph and attempt to bring Allen Robinson back, that could be a nice duo in the years to come – and don’t forget, Jacksonville has plenty of draft picks to use on a mid-round receiver as well. Don’t be surprised if this ends up happening.
12. Dump: Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Well, Alex Smith is going to be dumped solely because the Kansas City Chiefs already have last year’s first-rounder, Patrick Mahomes II, waiting in the wings. We should stress that Alex Smith really hasn’t done anything wrong to be dumped, but it’s just a case of a team moving on. In a sport that also doubles as a business, that type of thing tends to happen.
If Smith has played his final snap in Kansas City, which becomes increasingly likely after their first-round loss, the former No. 1 overall pick had a better time in Kansas City than I think anyone would have really predicted. Smith finishes his five years with the Chiefs with a 50-26 regular season record (but 1-4 in the playoffs) and a 102-33 TD-INT ratio while completing 65.1 percent of his passes. Smith also made two Pro Bowls under Andy Reid and deserved both honors. Not bad!
11. Replacement: Patrick Mahomes II, Kansas City Chiefs
Again, Alex Smith is really only being dumped because the Kansas City Chiefs already have Patrick Mahomes II waiting in the wings and ready to take over as the team’s starter. Mahomes wasn’t bad in his NFL debut last month against the Denver Broncos, completing 62.9 percent of his passes (22-of-35) for 284 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception in a Week 17 win. Still, I’d expect the Chiefs to go after a veteran backup who they can pay cheaply (might a Chase Daniel or Nick Foles return work?) just because Mahomes will still only be 22 when next season starts.
As Mahomes’ clock as the starter gets underway, one also has to ask when Andy Reid’s clock to either retirement or another job starts ticking. Maybe Reid is the destined replacement for Mike McCarthy in Green Bay…
10. Dump: Trevor Siemian/Paxton Lynch, Denver Broncos
For what it’s worth, I’m fine with the Broncos bringing back one of these two as the primary backup next year (the same goes with Brock Osweiler, though I’d really rather it be Siemian). But after two years of watching these two fight one another for the starting job and nothing good come out of it for the Broncos, a change has to be made. Denver’s window to return to the Super Bowl is shorter than anyone really wants to acknowledge, especially as their defense gets older, and a change needs to be made at the quarterback position.
Why Siemian over Lynch, you ask? Lynch hasn’t shown any real progress in two years and Siemian has that Ryan Fitzpatrick-like mentality to where he can be a good emergency starter, but not a 16-game starter.
9. Replacement: Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
I’m just going to keep pitching this marriage because it’s one that makes way, way too much sense to me. Cousins gets to earn a major contract in a division where his team could be the day one frontrunner (sorry, Raiders fans) and have some legitimate toys to play around with on offense. When you add John Elway and how well things worked for the last veteran quarterback to sign with the Broncos, I don’t see how this partnership can go wrong.
If the Broncos do somehow sign Cousins and trot out onto the field next September with a starting lineup of Cousins, C.J. Anderson, Demariyus Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and a new tight end, this team could make major waves in the AFC. Mark my words, even though I’ll probably be wrong.
8. Dump: Eli Manning, New York Giants
For what it’s worth, I do think the Giants would be alright with bringing Eli Manning back last year if the two-time Super Bowl champion takes a pay cut. Manning was fine this year when so many of his targets were out and you can’t blame him for all of the locker room issues that caused the defense to fall apart – and yes, Ben McAdoo, part of that blame heavily falls on you for randomly suspending players. If Manning is going to become a game manager at this stage in his career, I really think he can do that with a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. next year.
But, chances are the Giants don’t care about that optimism and are going to go in another direction. We’ll identify a team that works for him later, but a replacement we really want to see in New York is…
7. Replacement: Lamar Jackson, Louisville
This almost makes too much sense. Despite having first-round talent, Jackson is likely to fall to Day 2…until the Giants either trade back into the late first-round or take him in the second round. Jackson does have aspects of his game he’ll need to work on in the passing game, but adding a dual-threat quarterback to an offense which will likely return Odell Beckham Jr. in addition to rising young stars Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram could produce video game numbers for everyone.
If you’re someone worried about how a dual-threat quarterback like Jackson will transfer over to the NFL, I will add this: the Giants need to upgrade their offensive line if they don’t want the former Heisman winner to wind up like NFC Wild Card game Cam Newton. This is a guy who can and will take a lot of hits at the next level.
6. Dump: Bryce Petty, New York Jets
What did we learn from the New York Jets’ 2017 season? We learned a fair amount of positive things, but we definitely understood at long last that Bryce Petty is not ready to be a starter in this league – and he might not ever be. Petty was abysmal in his three starts with the Jets and though I do think the team will heavily consider bringing Josh McCown back next year based on comments the front office has made, Petty needs to be nowhere near the starting job.
At this point, Petty may not even warrant a new contract from the Jets, which is unfortunate because plenty of fans were excited when Gang Green drafted him in 2015. But, when do things ever work out with the Jets and drafted quarterbacks?
5. Replacement: Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
In reality, I’ve accepted the Jets are going to do something like draft Baker Mayfield with their first-round pick and appoint him as the day one starter not long into training camp, but this is what Gang Green needs to do. When Alex Smith becomes available, try and get him to New York by pitching him on an offense that made strides in 2017 (who doesn’t want to throw to Robby Anderson and a returning Quincy Enunwa) and a chance to make history by winning a Super Bowl with the Jets.
If you’re the Jets, your quarterback checklist should be that said player has winning experience as a starter, avoids making mistakes, and is a solid locker room presence. Does Smith fit all three? He passes with flying colors!
4. Dump: Blaine Gabbert/Drew Stanton, Arizona Cardinals
With Carson Palmer’s retirement that we think is for real and won’t evolve into Brett Favre 2.0, the current Arizona Cardinals starting quarterbacks are Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert. No. Stanton fits into that aforementioned “emergency starter” role who can get the job done in a pinch and Gabbert is a good backup to have around, but neither should be starting all 16 games at this point in their career. Remember when Gabbert was starting for the San Francisco 49ers instead of Colin Kaepernick back in 2016?
Would I be opposed to the Cardinals bringing one of these two back as the backup to a new starting quarterback? Definitely not. But if Larry Fitzgerald is returning next year, the Caridnals need a veteran quarterback to help get them back to the playoffs.
3. Replacement: Eli Manning, New York Giants
This is a move that makes enough sense to where if it doesn’t happen and the Cardinals sign someone like Tom Savage, there’s a problem. Manning is a veteran who has been more productive than people want to admit and would be coming to an offense with a potential duo of Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. Arizona needs to add another receiver, especially if John Brown is out the door following two straight disappointing seasons, but this could be the home that Eli Manning needs.
How fitting would be it if Manning, who won two Super Bowls with the Giants, was playing his home games in the stadium where he ended the 2007 New England Patriots’ hopes at an undefeated season. Perhaps a Manning-led Cardinals will play the Patriots in the Super Bowl next February?
2. Dump: DeShone Kizer, Cleveland Browns
No excuse you make for DeShone Kizer is going to change things here, so don’t try it. What I see here is almost like what the Carolina Panthers had with Jimmy Clausen, another Notre Dame quarterback, in 2010: a second-round pick who said team thought they may have had a future with, forced him into starting duty, and watched him play horrifically. Both teams wound up with the top pick in that year’s draft, though I think it’s fair to say Cam Newton was just a bit better than any of this year’s quarterback prospects.
Does Kizer still have a future at starting in this league? It’s still too early to tell, but Cleveland having the No. 1 overall pick almost means they’re guaranteed to draft a quarterback. Who do we have them taking?
1. Replacement: Josh Allen, Wyoming
Are you ready to see the Browns draft another mediocre quarterback to be their franchise player? Peter King wrote just after New Year’s that his sources were saying this would likely happen.
“I heard this from a veteran college scout, a man who was one of the first to trumpet Carson Wentz as a high first-rounder during his final season at North Dakota State, on the fate of the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and on what Cleveland GM John Dorsey might do: ‘I believe there is no way Cleveland, at number one, will pass on [Wyoming quarterback] Josh Allen. This is Wentz reincarnated. Allen’s a perfect Dorsey quarterback. Just watch.’”
If Josh Allen is Carson Wentz reincarnated, that’s just wonderful. It’s too bad Allen would be going to the Factory of Sadness, a place where the best quarterback they’ve drafted since 1999 and that has actually played in a Browns uniform is…Colt McCoy? Maybe Tim Couch? That’s great company for Josh Allen!
Which of these quarterbacks do you think gets dumped first? Who will be the best replacement? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below!
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