We NFL fans and followers are extremely lucky to be in an era where the quality and quantity of star quarterbacks is at an all-time high. Though record-setting Peyton Manning is retired, we still have future Hall of Famers in Drew Brees, Tom Brady an Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and perhaps Philip Rivers.
After them, there's a nice era of younger quarterbacks in Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, Derek Carr, Andy Dalton and Cam Newton, among others. And after them, there's a nice tier of quarterbacks that look to be stars for the next 15 years. It starts with the likes of Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Dak Prescott, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, among others.
But the NFL is going to look a lot different in five years. Brady and Brees will be retired, guys like Rodgers and Big Ben will be slowing down (if they're still in the league), and some guys you haven't even heard of will dominate college and the NFL soon enough.
What does the future hold for 15 NFL quarterbacks? We take a look.
Note: You'll realize guys like Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Wilson, Luck and Newton aren't on this list. It's because we project them to still be starters on their respective teams in 2022.
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15 Robert Griffin III: Out of NFL in 2020
Talk about a fall from grace.
Robert Griffin III was the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year, guiding the Washington Redskins to their first playoff spot since 2007 and winning the NFC East. He completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions while adding seven rushing scores.
Griffin and head coach Mike Shanahan clashed after the latter terribly handled his quarterback's knee injury throughout the 2012 campaign. In his sophomore season, RG3 tossed just 16 touchdowns against 12 interceptions while losing six fumbles. Griffin played just nine games in 2014 and didn't throw a single pass in 2015.
He got one final shot with the Cleveland Browns in 2016, but played in just five games. His read-option ran out of favour quickly, and he was never able to adjust as a passer. I'm not expecting RG3 to play another down in the NFL. He may not formally retire, but don't think he's going to be on a roster after 2019.
14 Colin Kaepernick: Signs with Jacksonville Jaguars
Well, things change quickly.
The NFL was taken by storm in 2012 with RG3, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick destroying NFL defences with their leagues, thanks to the read option. But unlike Wilson, RG3 and Kaepernick weren't able to adjust after the opponents learned the play. None of these guys could morph into legitimate passers, and it's going to hold back the potential they showed in the early stages of their respective careers.
The San Francisco 49ers have no choice but to move on from Kaepernick, who is no longer the player that guided them to the NFC Championship in both 2012 and 2013. There won't be a lot of interest in him, but the Jacksonville Jaguars make sense for one reason.
Quarterback Blake Bortles struggled mightily in his third season, and the Jags need to provide him with stiff competition. A veteran like Kaepernick may be the motivation Bortles needs to fix his game.
13 Ryan Fitzpatrick: Retires in 2020
After years as a mediocre starting quarterback, it appeared as though 'Fitz Magic' had finally found his groove. With the New York Jets in 2015, Ryan Fitzpatrick set career-highs in passing yards (3,905 yards), and touchdowns (31). The Jets went 10-6 and just barely missed out on the playoffs.
But Fitzpatrick got greedy and sat out most of the offseason without a contract, since the Jets refused to give him the long-term deal he wanted. He signed a month before the regular season and predictably went back to his old awful habits.
Fitzpatrick had 12 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and lost six fumbles. The Jets will surely move on from the 34-year-old, who ruined his last chance of staying on as a starter. Expect a team (Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, perhaps), to sign him as a backup for two years. Fitzpatrick will then retire in 2020.
12 Trevor Siemian: Traded to New York Jets
With the Jets moving on from Ryan Fitzpatrick, they'll carry over to youngsters Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty as the potential starter for 2017. This is a team that has to rebuild, and Darrelle Revis, Brandon Marshall and Sheldon Richardson appear to be veterans on their ways out of town.
But the Jets shouldn't just expect Petty nor Hackenberg to emerge as starters in 2017. They should bring in an experienced quarterback to challenge for the opening role. Trevor Siemian of the Jets makes sense, only why would he leave the Mile High City?
You'll soon find out a veteran I expect the Broncos to pick up, and 2016 Paxton Lynch is their quarterback of the future. That means there's no room for Siemian, who could fetch John Elway a mid-round selection or two. Expect the Jets to make a play for Siemian, who'll get another chance to start after an average (not great nor bad), season as the Broncos starter.
11 Jay Cutler: Retires in 2019
The Chicago Bears are not getting a refund on the seven-year, $126.7 million contract they gave to Jay Cutler back in 2014. After three-straight disappointing seasons, expect the Bears to rid themselves of the declining 34-year-old veteran.
Cutler played just five games in 2015, finishing with four touchdowns, five interceptions and five lost fumbles. The Bears desperately have to get their hands on a new quarterback in this year's draft. Cutler's had more than enough time to take the Bears to new heights, but one playoff berth in eight years simply isn't going to cut it.
Like Fitzpatrick, Cutler's experience as a starter will make him a quality backup option for someone. He's unlikely to be a starting quarterback again, but many teams could bring him on as a second option. After that, expect Cutler to retire in 2020 (when he'll be 36 years of age).
10 Brock Osweiler: Stays a Texan...For Now
The Houston Texans saw Brock Osweiler play in 6.5 games for the Denver Broncos last season. That was enough for them to dish out $72 million to him over four years, including $37 million guaranteed. Though the Texans won the AFC south with a 9-7 record, Osweiler had almost nothing to do with it.
He lost the starting job to Tom Savage near the end of the season, but regained it after the latter was in concussion protocol. Osweiler finished 2016 with just 2,957 yards, 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. That being said, the Texans have too much money invested in Osweiler and are better off giving him at least one more season to show he's worth the dollars.
Osweiler will remain a Texan in 2017. If the numbers don't get better, then they'll definitely look to release him. But the hefty dollars will force them into giving him at least one more season to develop into a real starter.
9 Jimmy Garoppolo: Stays with Patriots
There are rumors going around that the New England Patriots may look to trade Jimmy Garoppolo for draft picks. The 25-year-old looked just like Tom Brady in his one-and-a-half games as the team starter in 2016. Garoppolo showed great poise, accuracy and has a beautiful touch on his passes.
But the Patriots need to accept reality: Tom Brady will be 40 by the time 2017 starts, and history tells us he'll get worse instead of better. Peyton Manning suddenly went way downhill in his age-39 season, and Brett Favre got seriously injured trying to play at age 41.
Belichick has spent three offseasons developing Garoppolo, who looks like he's ready to assume the reigns of Brady when his time comes. Trading Garoppolo now means he has such little time to find another quarterback to develop when Brady retires.
8 Tyrod Taylor: Signs with Cleveland Browns
After four years as a Baltimore Ravens backup, Tyrod Taylor became the Buffalo Bills starter for two seasons. He showed plenty of potential, but not quite enough to show the world he's a legitimate number one quarterback.
In 2015, Taylor tossed for 3,035 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions while adding 568 rushing yards and four rushing scores. In 2016, Taylor threw for 3,023 yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions, adding 580 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.
But the Bills went a total of 15-17 in Taylor's two seasons with Buffalo (he did miss three starts), and it's been reported that they won't bring him back in 2017. That leaves the quarterback-hungry Cleveland Browns as a good destination for Taylor.
Taylor does play a more conservative style of offence, and having Terrelle Pryor, Gary Barnidge and Andrew Hawkins would give him a much better group of receivers than he had in Buffalo. It would make sense for the Browns to take a chance on Taylor this offseason, because he'd automatically be better than anyone they have now.
7 Carson Palmer: Stays in Arizona, Retires in 2019
After leading the Arizona Cardinals to the 2015 NFC Championship Game with a 13-3 record, the expectation was that Carson Palmer would help the Red Birds contend for a Super Bowl championship.
But after tossing 35 touchdowns and 11 interceptions a year ago, Palmer tossed just 26 scores and 14 picks in 2016 while losing nine fumbles. Many wonder if the 37-year-old his past his prime and if he has much of a future as a starter. As of right now, it's tough to see the Cardinals moving on from him.
Palmer is the best option for the Cardinals if they want to win now. Expect him to play out two more years with Arizona, and then he'll retire before his age-40 season in two years time.
6 Kirk Cousins: Signs long-term deal with Washington
Kirk Cousins led the Washington Redskins to a surprising 9-7 season in 2015, leading them to the NFC East Crown. Though Washington failed to make the playoffs in 2016, they did manage to finish 8-7-1, good enough for consecutive winning seasons.
Cousins has notched back-to-back 4,000-passing yard seasons, finishing with 54 total touchdowns and 23 touchdowns in that frame. Washington found their Robert Griffin III replacement, and they would be very silly to let him walk in free agency. They have to do whatever it takes to sign him long-term.
It's common sense that the team will use their franchise tag on him if a deal isn't reached until then. But expect Washington do meet his price tag. They need him to compete, and he's not going to get an offer from a better team.
5 Eli Manning: Retirement in 2020
Eli Manning regressed in 2016, tossing for 4,027 yards after just barely tossing over 4,400 in both 2014 and 2015. Manning's 26 touchdown passes were his lowest since 2013, and his 6.73 yards per completion were his worst 2007. Though some may feel complied to say the 36-year-old is past his prime, Manning has stayed healthy throughout his career.
If anything else, 2016 was just a down year, yet the New York Giants made the playoffs for the first time since 207.
It's well-documented that the Giants will look to find Eli's successor, but there's no reason to believe he's slowing down. Manning is on a competitive Giants team that figures to compete for many championships in the future. Look for him to stay on as their quarterback for three more years, before he hangs it up at age 39 in three years.
4 Tony Romo: Traded to Denver Broncos
I've wrote about this on multiple articles. The Broncos simply have to go after Tony Romo, and Romo has to go there if he wants to win a Super Bowl. By the time next season starts, Romo will be 37 years of age. With all the injuries his body has suffered, time is running out to be a starter.
It's obvious the Dallas Cowboys will stick to 23-year-old Dak Prescott, and they'll look to trade Romo in the offseason. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport noted that Romo is interested in joining the Broncos.
Think about all of the Super Bowl contenders - they all have a solution at quarterback. John Elway brought in a 36-year-old Peyton Manning five years ago, so why not take a chance on Tony Romo for a couple of seasons? Look for the Broncos to take on Romo for at least two seasons before he retires.
3 Philip Rivers: Traded to Buffalo Bills in 2018
With the Chargers moving to San Diego for 2017, they'll look to hold onto Philip Rivers and aim for a playoff spot. The reality is that the Chargers have to rebuild and are many steps behind their three foes in the AFC West. They are far from ready to compete for the playoffs.
That reality will come to them in 2017. And with Los Angeles feeling the pressure to attract more fans to the stadium, they will commit to a full-on rebuild. The best way to do that would be to trade Philip Rivers for a load of draft picks.
The Bills haven't made the playoffs since 1999, and despite fielding an elite defence the past few seasons, mediocre play from their quarterbacks has held them out. 2018 will be a year where they go all-in for Rivers, and he'll take the Bills back to the playoffs.
It just doesn't make sense for the Chargers to keep a 36-year-old beyond 2017, so look for a trade to take place.
2 Drew Brees: Retires in 2021
Drew Brees is surely going to reach the Hall of Fame when his career ends, plain and simple. He's a Super Bowl champion and could very well break all of Peyton Manning's records (career passing yards, completions, touchdowns, the list goes on), by the time he hangs up his cleats.
He tossed over 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns for the 11th-straight season in 2016 (!), and has missed just two games during that span. Brees is lucky to be playing behind one of the league's best offences while staying healthy, so one can assume the 38-year-old has three years left in him (maybe more, maybe less).
The Saints are undoubtedly going to keep Brees until he retires. Though things can change fast (see 2010 Favre and 2015 Manning), it's not hard to see Brees play until he's 41. But after that, father time will force him to retire. But that's four years away, if these calculations are correct.
1 Tom Brady: Retires In 2018
Well, this sounds kind of crazy, doesn't it?
Tom Brady looked like he was 25 in 2016, even though he's turning 40 in August. In fact, he's basically gotten better every year since he turned 30 in 2007 (the Patriots almost went 19-0 that year).
But people forget just how fast an NFL quarterback's body can break down. Take a look at Peyton Manning. When he was 37, he had the greatest season ever (55 touchdowns 5,477 yards), and guided the Broncos to a Super Bowl appearance. The next season, he fought off injuries and finished with 4,727 yards, 39 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. But in just 10 games played during 2015, he struggled with injuries and tossed nine touchdowns against 17 interceptions, and his defence carried him to a Super Bowl.
People also tend to forget about Brett Favre's disastrous final season in 2010 after he narrowly took the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl the season before.
My point is, Brady is 39 years of age, and something seemed off with his throws for much of 2016. With every hit his body takes, it's going to pile on more bumps and bruises. Brady's age will likely show when he's 40, and Bill Belichick will have no choice but to roll Jimmy Garoppolo. Belichick won't want to release him, and Brady won't want to play for another team.
Believe it or not, expect Brady to play one more season in 2017 before retiring.
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