If everything shakes out like it appears, we could be looking at one of the busiest offseasons for NFL quarterbacks in the history of the league. There are a near-unprecedented amount of quarterbacks who are bound to be on the move in a few months, along with the usual number of drafted quarterbacks who will be added to rosters in April. There’s no question about it; the position is at a premium at the moment, and many teams are scrambling to find their long-term franchise player, either on the cheap or by investing premium resources.
It’s not a surprise that so many teams are looking for a new quarterback, given the recent trends. A very good quarterback is almost a requisite to be a consistent contender in the playoffs. Any team who makes a habit of starting a merely average one runs the risk of being stuck in NFL purgatory; not bad enough to draft an elite talent, and not good enough to be seriously competitive for a Super Bowl. Therefore, the level of quarterback shakeup should be expected, and we’ll likely a ton of it in the 2018 offseason.
Ranked below are 15 NFL teams who will have a new starting quarterback at some point in the 2018 season.
15. Arizona Cardinals
It’s clear that the Carson Palmer-era in Arizona is about to be caput. He’s suffered too many injuries, and simply isn’t the player he was just a couple of years ago. It remains to be seen if Bruce Arians gets axed as head coach, but he may have done enough to hang on for another year or so to prove that he can transition from Palmer and get back in the playoffs.
It’s due time that the Cardinals draft a quarterback, something they tried to avoid with the acquisition of Palmer in the first place. It’s the only sure way to be a perennial playoff contender once again, and have a player at the position who isn’t an aging veteran. Josh Allen is a big-armed talent out of Wyoming who’s projected to be drafted in the first round, and Arizona should have the draft position to make a run at him. They’ll try to mold him as their franchise player.
14. New York Jets
The Jets have been on a quarterback carousel for the last several years, and they really need to find their solution at the position. Despite expending plenty of draft picks over the years, they haven’t been able to come up with anything, electing to start veteran Josh McCown for this season, clearly as a stopgap. The answer however, may be waiting in-house, if the Jets want to go that route.
They used a 2nd-round pick on Christian Hackenberg out of Penn State just two seasons ago, and at some point they’re going to need to find out if he can play at a consistent level. He appears to be the most likely option to start the 2018 season, even if New York ends up drafting yet another quarterback at some point in the draft. Keep your eye on Hackenberg as the next man up.
13. Kansas City Chiefs
This one is obvious, and it’s clearly time to nix Alex Smith from the starting job in Kansas City. While Smith certainly wasn’t a terrible player by any means, he had a defined ceiling, and was never able to ascend to the level of an elite quarterback. There’s no doubt the Chiefs need a change, and that’s why they expended the 10th-overall pick last year on Patrick Mahomes out of Texas Tech.
Mahomes is raw but talented, and with a year on the sidelines under his belt, he’s better-equipped to take over the starting role next season. An athletic gunslinger, he’ll give Andy Reid plenty of options on how to use him, and give the Chiefs a legitimate chance of having a truly elite quarterback for the future.
12. Miami Dolphins
The Jay Cutler experiment clearly isn’t working out, and it was clear from the beginning that this was likely going to be a stopgap signing only. Previous starter Ryan Tannehill will return from his ACL injury in the offseason, and presumably be ready to re-take the starting role from Cutler, who will no doubt be shown the door after one sub-par season. Tannehill is the top dog right now, no questions asked.
If he suffers some kind of a setback with the injury, the Dolphins would likely turn to Matt Moore, but that probably won’t be necessary. Tannehill has rehabbed his injury, and will take over the reigns as starter in 2018, hopefully leading the Dolphins to a better campaign than they had this year with Cutler under center.
11. Denver Broncos
In a season that went horribly wrong for the Broncos, so much of their regression was because of the lack of a quarterback presence that could take over games. Trevor Siemian proved why he was merely a 7th-round draft pick, and former 1st-round pick Paxton Lynch did little to impress. Truly, the Broncos are starving for a quarterback that can come in and be the face of the franchise.
Likely to finish up the season with five wins, they’re going to be looking at a high draft pick. At this point, their focus should be on drafting a quarterback with blue-chip talent, to finally end this process. Sam Darnold out of USC could end up being the most likely target, and even if Denver has to trade up a few spots to get him, the end result could be well worth it.
10. Washington Redskins
Of course, one quarterback in Minnesota will have to go, and Teddy Bridgewater could be the odd man out. Two seasons with the starting job didn’t yield the greatest results before his unfortunate injury, and there will be plenty of teams looking for the services. To the right evaluator, Bridgewater would probably have more upside than many replacement options, and he’s been a starter in the league to boot.
It’s likely that Kirk Cousins is out as the starter, as evidenced by the ongoing contractual saga that has engulfed him over the past several years. The Redskins are past the point of no return on this, and need to lock up a starter for the long-term that wants to be there.
Potential Replacement: Teddy Bridgewater
9. Cincinnati Bengals
With Marvin Lewis all but out the door, the Bengals have a lot of work to do in terms of restructuring their roster and plans going forward. A new regime will come in, and certain players will be on the chopping block that wouldn’t have been otherwise. You need not look further than starting quarterback Andy Dalton, as a potential casualty of this overhaul.
Dalton has proven that he’s essentially a league-average quarterback who is capable of getting a team with a great roster to the playoffs. Really though, that’s not enough to become a viable contender. Expect the Bengals to roll with a low-tier backup to tank for 2018, try to send off Dalton in a trade, and then draft their quarterback of the future in the draft the following year.
8. Buffalo Bills
New head coach Sean McDermott already tried to bench Tyrod Taylor once in the middle of a playoff race, so there’s no reason to believe that he’ll be the starter going forward. The Bills aren’t entirely in the wrong here, as Taylor has been consistent, but unable to elevate the offense as a whole when called upon in difficult situations.
Nathan Peterman is waiting in the fold, and he could be the one who gets the call for 2018, or the Bills could elect to draft yet another quarterback and give him a shot. Moreover, they could also sign veteran off the free agent market. With Peterman having draft resources invested into him however, he seems like the one who would be getting the call, in the event that they get rid of Taylor before the start of the season
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
How much would it take for Tom Coughlin to bring Manning to Jacksonville in the offseason? He has to have some level of interest. With the Giants bringing in a new coaching regime, and new general manager, Manning’s job for 2018 is very much in doubt, and he’s probably not yet ready to retire. He could very well be on the market this offseason, for the right trade price.
This isn’t a guarantee, but it’s far from the most ridiculous idea. There’s little question that Manning has regressed in New York, but with a run-heavy offense backed by a great young defense for the Jaguars, he could be able to provide enough stability for a deep playoff run. It can’t be much worse than Blake Bortles.
6. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers started off the 2017 season with journeyman Brian Hoyer under center for the first year of the Kyle Shanahan regime. From there, they went to 3rd-round pick C.J. Beathard mid-season. Neither option turned out to be formidable, so they gave up a 2nd-round pick for Jimmy Garoppolo, and now have reaped the benefits of his play to the tune of a late-season winning streak.
So there’s doubt that Garoppolo will be taking over the reigns as starter full-time when 2018 hits. He’s going to be “the guy” for the 49ers, and the catalyst that hopes to see them back in contention for the NFC playoffs. He’s the frontrunner to be Shanahan’s main quarterback throughout his tenure in San Francisco.
5. New York Giants
The aforementioned new coaching regime that will be entering the Giants’ facilities in the offseason is going to play a big part in deciding whether Eli Manning is to stay another year as the starting quarterback. From an objective perspective there’s not much upside to keeping him. Manning has regressed in recent years, and the team expended a relatively valuable 3rd-round pick into Davis Webb last offseason.
At that price, they at least have to know if Webb can play at the NFL level or not. This lines him up to be the likely opening day starter for 2017, and for Manning to be dealt for resources to a contending team in need of a quarterback. It’ll be the end of an era in New York, but Manning could succeed in the right situation for a few more years.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
With Ben Roethlisberger’s status for the 2018 season still in question, the Steelers will need to have a long-term option in the waiting whether he decides to return to the team in 2018 or not. Preparations for his departure should begin now, and Pittsburgh should be looking at Josh Dobbs as the in-house option to replace the franchise quarterback.
Roethlisberger has hinted at retirement before this season, and this really could be his last hurrah. Injuries have plagued him over the last several seasons, and it’s clear that he isn’t the same player he once was, although certainly good enough to land them a deep playoff run. Look for the Steelers to give Dobbs the chance to land the starting job before anyone else, whenever that happens to be.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota is really in a rock-and-a-hard-place situation with their quarterback situation right now, with three viable options that could be contenders for the 2018 starting job. Certainly nobody expected Case Keenum to play as well as he has this year, but there’s a very good chance that his season could turn out to be an anomaly. There’s also injury-prone Sam Bradford, whom Keenum replaced when he got hurt, and Teddy Bridgewater, who missed close to two full seasons due to his own injury woes.
They gave up valuable draft resources for Bradford, and while he may seem like the dark horse to regain starting quarterback duties, there’s more reason to give him a look than anyone else. When healthy, he’s the most talented quarterback on the roster, and the team could still resign Keenum for next season if Bradford’s injury issues rear their head again. Don’t expect them to give up on him just yet.
Potential Replacement: Sam Bradford
2. Philadelphia Eagles
The injury to Carson Wentz immediately stifled the Eagles chances of making a run at the Super Bowl this year. While they have the number one seed in the NFC playoffs, they’ll still need to prove they can with Nick Foles at the helm. Regardless of what ends up happening this season, the fact is that it’s going to be an uphill battle for Wentz to be ready for the start of he regular season. Philly will likely need a stopgap for at least a few games.
With Foles under contract for 2018, the Eagles are pretty much guaranteed to keep him around, considering the magnitude of Wentz’s injury. Worst case scenario, Foles may have to play half of the 2018 season, and maybe more. Expect him to be the opening day starter next season, in what should be a rarity once Wentz fully recovers.
1. Cleveland Browns
When haven’t the Browns needed a new starting quarterback? The team has simultaneously drafted poorly and failed to properly develop talent for the last 15 years or so, and the buck needs to stop here.
They have two predominant options available to them. They could go after Kirk Cousins on the free agent market, as one of the few teams who could afford such a premium contract, and know that he’ll deliver as a confirmed quality starter.
The other option involves drafting a quarterback with the 1st-overall pick. If new general manager John Dorsey likes the options of Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold, this could be the move as well. It carries for more risk for an unproven commodity, but also potentially more upside for each player as well.
No matter the decision, the Browns need to fix this problem, and quickly. They’ve dug themselves in a hole over the years from having inadequate quarterback development, and it’s hindered every possible chance they’ve had at building a winning team. Look for them to address it head-on this upcoming offseason.
Potential Replacement: Kirk Cousins/Josh Rosen/Sam Darnold
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