Outside of the New England Patriots, the NFL changes quite a lot year after year, and in such a result-driven business, there is always pressure on quarterbacks to be at their best, and if they aren’t, teams will be happy to bring in new QBs, all with the goal of doing exactly what the Philadelphia Eagles did in the 2017/18 season. Whether it be through trade, the draft or free agency, there are many ways for a team to bring in a new QB, so again, expect to see quite a lot of change in the upcoming season in the most important position in sports.
There is another alternative for some teams, however, and that’s getting their returning QBs back after bad injuries in the 2017 season, and that could change a team just as much as bringing in a new signal caller. No matter what way it’s done, there is going to be a lot of change in the upcoming season, so let’s look at 10 teams who will trot out new QBs in 2018, and 5 teams who are returning the same quarterbacks to lead their teams, as they try to make the Super Bowl.
15 Denver Broncos (New QB – Kirk Cousins)
The Denver Broncos struggled mightily on the offensive side of the ball in 2017, but it’s a quick fix, and with one of the most stout defenses in the entire NFL, adding someone like Kirk Cousins would catapult them straight into playoff contention, although it will be a huge battle up against the Chiefs, Raiders and Chargers out West. Reports are that Cousins will be seeking a huge deal, but the Broncos can pay that, and with Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian as the other options, they NEED to go all out for the Washington standout. We know that the Redskins traded for Alex Smith this offseason, so that’s a great sign that they aren’t interested in bringing Cousins back, and this is the perfect fit.
14 Cincinnati Bengals (New QB – Lamar Jackson)
This one will definitely be a point of contention for NFL fans regarding this topic, but as much as the Bengals want you to believe that Andy Dalton is elite, he just doesn’t cut it at the NFL level, and drafting someone as explosive and dangerous as Lamar Jackson is a good idea, as adding him to their lethal offense could kick-start the success that they’ve been seeking for years under the Red Rifle. Sure, it might not pay immediate dividends, but simply put, Dalton just isn’t working out, and moving on from him is what they need to do, so exploring a trade would also be a great option. This is least likely to happen out of anyone on this list, but they could also move up in the draft to get one of the Joshes (Rosen or Allen), Baker Mayfield, or Sam Darnold. Either way, they need to start moving on from Andy Dalton.
13 Green Bay Packers (Redemption – Aaron Rodgers)
Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best QB in the NFL today, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy for quite some time, and when he comes back, the NFL better watch out, because he’s going to be incredibly motivated to make it to, and win another Super Bowl. The Packers haven’t been too good outside of Rodgers' brilliant play for a few years now, and that was evident in their results with Brett Hundley under center, so they will need major changes on D if they want to return to the Super Bowl for the first time in several years. Aaron is going to be brilliant as always, and if he can stay healthy, Green Bay will again be a favorite in the NFC, and if they can click for a full 16 games, a Super Bowl appearance is almost guaranteed.
12 Cleveland Browns (New QB – A.J. McCarron)
Despite a historically terrible 2017 season, the Cleveland Browns have some positives, and if they can make a few moves during this offseason, they could finally begin the climb to the playoffs, something that seems so far off, but yet it could be closer than you expect. They have the #1 and #4 selections in the upcoming draft, and I believe they should select Saquon Barkley (RB) and Minkah Fitzpatrick (DB) – the Browns have done terribly choosing QBs, so why not get those hot prospects instead? And now that AJ McCarron is indeed a free agent, Cleveland would be the perfect spot for him. He’s not the best athlete in the league, but he is a winner, and he has a very high football IQ, and adding him to an offense with Barkley, David Njoku, Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman could actually be a huge positive that finally pays off for the Browns.
11 Buffalo Bills (New QB – Josh Allen)
The Buffalo Bills made the playoffs for the first time in 20 years in 2017, but their QB situation throughout the year was an absolute mess, with Tyrod Taylor not living up to expectations and Nathan Peterman failing in his limited opportunities, so why not draft a top QB this year and let him see what he can do? It’s clear that the Bills don’t believe in Taylor, so trading him away would be a great idea. And if they can get back more offensive help in that trade, then handing the reigns over to Josh Allen from Wyoming could make them an even bigger threat in 2018. The team has the 21st overall pick in the upcoming draft, so Allen might not be there, but with Darnold, Rosen and Mayfield all ahead of him, it’s likely that he will fall to Buffalo.
10 Houston Texans (Redemption – Deshaun Watson)
Deshaun Watson, the former National Champion with Clemson, was having a rookie year for the ages under center for the Houston Texans before being ruled out the entire year with an injury. Although it may be tough initially to re-adjust to the NFL, he is going to come back better than ever. With the offensive weapons and one of the scariest defenses in the NFL, the Texans should be primed for a playoff run, assuming the dual threat Watson can stay healthy. The rest of the NFL will no doubt adjust to Watson, but we saw the sophomore slump didn’t affect Carson Wentz at all, and we expect similar output from Watson in his second year. We just hope he doesn’t get injured like Wentz did in 2017.
9 New York Giants (New QB – Josh Rosen)
The New York Giants seemingly moved on symbolically from Eli Manning during the 2017 season, and although there is a new coaching regime in charge, it would be a great time to move on from him for real, because they won’t compete for another few years. If they can build around Josh Rosen, that will be a recipe for long term success. They have the #2 overall pick which would be perfectly used on the QB coming out of UCLA (we’ll discuss the Browns' possible #1 overall pick later), and it just makes sense for them to pull the trigger now. Sure, there’s always the option of drafting his successor now, but even with Eli’s pedigree in New York, any sign of struggle will garner him pressure from the media and the fan base, so the best move New York could make right now is to trade him away and see if Rosen can be the future and the present in Giant Blue.
8 Arizona Cardinals (New QB – Eli Manning)
Speaking of the Giants and a perfect trade partner, let's look at Arizona, because the Cardinals' window is closing, and if they can avoid giving up too much to get Manning, it’s the perfect deal, as the West is now wide open. Having a veteran to replace Carson Palmer is the only play here. We can see them going the other way, taking someone like Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen late in the first round, but with Larry Fitzgerald returning for another season to partner with John Brown and David Johnson, adding in a ready-built threat like Manning is a great play, especially if they can bring in a potential future QB in the draft. There are other options (Tyrod Taylor, potentially someone like Andy Dalton), but with the Giants' situation from last year, that might be the easiest deal to make.
7 Indianapolis Colts (Redemption – Andrew Luck)
Andrew Luck is arguably the most talented QB in the entire NFL, as he led a Colts team lacking in offensive talent to 10+ wins in his first three seasons, but since that point, he’s had shoulder injuries that have kept him out for quite some time. When he’s ready to go again, expect the Colts to again become a huge threat in the NFC South. They experienced some amount of success in 2017 under Tom Brady’s former backup Jacoby Brissett, but Luck brings a swagger and another level of talent to this team that they haven’t seen since The Sheriff, Peyton Manning, was in charge. We don’t know too much about his injury, but he is apparently expected back at some point this year, and he’ll have plenty to prove when he returns.
6 Washington Redskins (New QB –Alex Smith)
Alex Smith has been one of the most consistent and underrated QBs in the NFL for quite some time now, and with Patrick Mahomes impressing everyone in KC, they decided to ship him out to Washington. Despite the fact that Kirk Cousins is still there, he will be gone very soon, paving the way for Smith to bring his brilliant game management to the nation's capital. With Dallas, Philly and New York all having more complete teams, they will need to be perfect throughout the year to contend for the playoffs, but it’s safe to say that Smith is just a much cheaper option than Cousins. It’s likely that Kirk will get a huge deal for a QB-needy team, and Washington didn’t feel he deserved it, so we will see how they go under the lifetime game manager in Alex Smith.
5 Minnesota Vikings (New QB – Teddy Bridgewater)
The Minnesota Vikings were just one win away from the Super Bowl with their replacement QB Case Keenum, but all three of their quarterbacks are Free Agents this offseason, and considering the time and effort that Minnesota put into Teddy Bridgewater, it’s likely that he’ll be the most valued QB come free agency. If they brought back one of the others to be his backup/mentor, that would be very understandable, but Bridgewater has the X-factor that Keenum doesn’t, and although we aren’t blaming him for the Vikings' failures in the NFC Championship game, he isn’t the threat that Teddy Ballgame is. It’s a safe bet that Minnesota will be competing for a berth in the Super Bowl again next season, and Bridgewater just might be the person to make the difference this time around.
4 Miami Dolphins (Redemption – Ryan Tannehill)
Ryan Tannehill is one of the most underrated QBs in the entire NFL, and the Dolphins know how good he can be. That’s why they were excited for their 2017 NFL season, until he got injured before a game could be played. It had them scrambling, and when they eventually brought in Jay Cutler, it just wasn’t enough to succeed the way they would have hoped. Barring another catastrophic injury or setback, Tannehill will be back in 2018 for Week 1, and although he’s got a fair bit of criticism over his time, it’s an upgrade from Cutler, but it may also be his last chance in Miami. He’s shown flashes of being a top 10-15 QB, but has been inconsistent, but with an injury and a full missed season to motivate him, we expect Ryan to be at his best for the upcoming NFL season.
3 Kansas City Chiefs (New QB – Patrick Mahomes)
The Kansas City Chiefs were again a playoff team in 2017, but after such a hot start to the season, they struggled entering the playoffs, and after trading away Alex Smith, it’s clear that the time is now for last years #10 draft selection, Patrick Mahomes. It was never talked about publicly, but there were reports that KC were considering benching Smith at several points throughout the season, despite his glowing stats. However, the reins have been handed to Mahomes now, and it’s going to be very interesting to see how the dynamic changes. Obviously there will be big adjustments for Mahomes to make after one year as a backup, but reports are that Mahomes is the man for the job, and he’s going to start the 2018 season under center.
2 New York Jets (New QB – Baker Mayfield)
You may hate on the New York Jets, and no one can blame you for that, but they were a lot better in 2017 than their record shows, and they are just a good QB and a running back away from wild card contention. So with the #6 overall selection, it’s time to take a chance on a QB, rather than a top defensive player (Sheldon Richardson, Dee Millner, Jamal Adams, Leonard Williams have all been taken with the top Jets pick over the last few years). There are arguments for several choices here, with other QB’s on the board, or they could pursue someone like Kirk Cousins or AJ McCarron, but Mayfield has the IT factor that few QB’s have, and he could be a star in the NFL. Either way, it’s time the Jets take a chance to develop a top QB, because they have the talent to be a fringe playoff contender, and this is the year to make that move with the 2017/18 Heisman Trophy Winner from Oklahoma.
1 Philadelphia Eagles (Redemption – Carson Wentz)
Carson Wentz was having a year for the ages in 2017, and he was leading the MVP voting in many fans and experts minds 13 weeks into the season, when he was unfortunately injured. With the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl under Nick Foles, Wentz has a lot to prove when he again takes over the reins in 2018. The team will have all the pressure in the world on them when arguably one of the top 5 QBs in the NFL again takes over, but with all the talent in the world around him (Blount, Ajayi, Jeffery, Aghalor, Smith, Ertz), he should come back better than ever. Expect Wentz and the Eagles to be in a similar position this time next year, because Wentz is one of the best and brightest in the game today, and if he comes back even more motivated, that’s a scary proposition for the NFC East and the entire NFL.