When it comes to professional team sports, there is only one position that is considered the most important by all fans, and that would be the quarterback position. Football is the only sport where the quarterback is going to touch the ball on every single play on offense while also completely controlling what plays are called, which audibles need to be made, who needs to go where and then has to execute the play to perfection.
Sure, baseball has a pitcher but he is almost strictly a defensive player and does not account for any points. How many times did Bob Gibson pitch a nearly perfect game but still picked up a loss because of his offense not scoring a single run?
The QB is also the leader of the team and is solely responsible for the tempo as the game goes on. There is no other position in sports that hands over so much responsibility to one man. In the NFL, success is synonymous with having a great QB. Although a legendary defense does help, as the Jacksonville Jaguars showed us last year, at some point you need to have a QB that can be great.
So it makes sense that when an NFL team signs a QB for their future, they offer him a ton of money. It also helps fans understand why there are rules that protect the QB too. Because of how important he is to his team, he is also that important to the NFL and making sure fans continue coming to games.
As we head into the final stretch of the 2018 season, let’s jump ahead and look at what is coming in the upcoming offseason by looking at the 7 QBs that will be signed, the 7 that will be traded, and the 7 that will be released.
21 Signed: Robert Griffin III
As you are going to see very soon, the Baltimore Ravens QB situation is going to look completely different in 2019 and that has everything to do with the emergence of rookie Lamar Jackson. As he continues to grow in this offense, it becomes even more important for the Ravens to have backups that not only were once starters but can also come in a start when called on.
Robert Griffin III is still in the NFL and many people are surprised to hear it but that is because the man can still run and his arm strength is still one of the best in the game. His accuracy remains an issue that will keep him from returning to being a starter but having him around as Jackson turns into a starter is invaluable for the franchise.
His value is what is going to earn him a longer contract to stay in Baltimore, but could end up signing somewhere else that is looking for a starter next season, like the next one on this list.
20 Traded: Derek Carr
Look, we understand that it seems a little crazy to mention Derek Carr in our traded section for next season but hear us out before jumping all over us. This could make sense when it is all said and done.
Jon Gruden is going to be in Oakland until he retires in 10 years, or sooner. But his contract is pretty straightforward and structured in a way that means he is there until he leaves, not the other way around. That gives him the best job security we have ever seen in the NFL, ever.
This has allowed him to trade away his star wide receiver Amari Cooper and a future Hall of Fame defensive stud in Khalil Mack this season. With all the recent reports about rumored locker room trouble between the team and Derek Carr and reports that Gruden and Carr just can’t seem to get on the same page, we know how much value he can give them via trade. Can the Raiders get another couple of first round picks for him? Probably so.
18 Signed: Sean Mannion
There are not many valuable NFL backup QBs that are 26-years-old or younger so the Los Angeles Rams need to find a way to keep Sean Mannion around because he is not the guy you sign to be a starter, but he is the guy you sign to back up Jared Goff in case he ends up going down during a season.
We are not saying he is the next Nick Foles; far from it, actually. But Mannion has played a few NFL games and even started once in 2015 for the Rams.
The few times he did get into a game, he failed to blow us away with his skillset but that is not fair because he only went into one weekend knowing he was going to start a game and had time to prepare and work with the starters. It is tough to come off the bench and go right into the game as if you were there all along.
17 Traded: Ryan Tannehill
The New York Giants are in need of a change at the quarterback position and Ryan Tannehill comes at a discounted price. Although he isn’t the superstar you would like to have, he is a guy that got better each of his first few years before tearing his ACL.
This season, he went down with a shoulder injury and was sidelined a few more games. So Miami could find themselves ready to start a rebuild after struggling to handle the roster they have today and the Giants might be able to offer them a couple of good picks and a player that is worthy of a trade of this caliber.
It is not a normal thing to see a starting QB traded like this but this is a discussion and we like the odds here.
16 Released: C.J. Beathard
The San Francisco 49ers knew this was not going to be a fun year after losing their starting running back, Jerick McKinnon, and starting QB, Jimmy Garoppolo, to torn ACLs. Since then, they have been trying to find players to replace them and keep their season alive but it just has not seemed to happen yet.
That is until they put Nick Mullens in as their starter. He replaced the former backup who was starting for the 49ers this season, C.J. Beathard, and has not looked back. As long as Mullens can stay healthy, we will not see much, if any, of Beathard as a 49er and that is because they found a guy who is young and talented and has the ability to become a starter when asked to.
If Jimmy Garoppolo can recover and be back for the start of next season, the 49ers might be fine heading into next year. But if he has a longer recovery time, and misses the start of the year, Nick Mullens is a better candidate than Beathard.
15 Signed: Kyle Sloter
If this is the first time you heard the name Kyle Sloter, you must not be from Northern Colorado. This kid went undrafted in 2017 and ended up signing with the Denver Broncos where he grew a cult following after a solid preseason where he showcased his arm strength, field awareness, and leadership.
He is a big guy at 6’5” and 218 pounds and has the pedigree to become a starter in this league one day. He just needs the right team and the right coaching staff to help build him into that very raw talent he possesses.
He was waived by the Broncos but then quickly signed by Minnesota, where he has turned into a clipboard guy. And that is totally fine for him because he is still 24-years-old and virtually unknown. But with his growth this season and next, there is a chance he gets signed and catches a break in the right system before long.
14 Traded: Nick Mullens
The San Francisco 49ers are going to assume that when the 2019 season begins, they will be returning their star QB Jimmy Garoppolo. They did just sign him for five years at $137.5 million, so there is very little room for anyone to take the starting job from him anytime soon.
That being said, with the job he is doing this season, Nick Mullens could find himself being shipped off to a team looking for someone to compete for a starting job. Or, at the worst, be traded for a draft pick to a team that is looking for a legitimate second string QB.
Although he has yet to really provide enough value to become a candidate for a staring role in the NFL right now, he is playing well enough to fill voids teams are always looking to fill at a discounted price.
13 Released: Derek Anderson
Once the 2018 season comes to an end, it could very well mark the final time we were ever able to see Derek Anderson suit up in the NFL. He is currently playing on a one-year deal and at 35-years-old, his value has taken a dip year after year as he continues to climb the age chart.
He is still one of the better backups in the entire NFL and has spent an entire career fighting his way into lineups and starting roles. But he has been around this league since 2005 when he signed his first big league deal with the Baltimore Ravens before being waived without ever having played a game with them. He would later be claimed by the Cleveland Browns and he ended up sticking around.
Since then, he has been to Arizona, Carolina, and now, Buffalo. But once this current deal ends, the odds of him signing another deal might be further out than he thinks.
12 Signed: Teddy Bridgewater
Drew Brees is having a career year this season but that does not mean he can play until he is 45-years-old. The Saints know this and have been trying to find someone that can learn the system and replace him once he leaves. Although he has some pretty big shoes to fill, not having a plan is even worse.
So the Saints went out and traded for Teddy Bridgewater this year and should go after him after this season, locking him up for the long term. If he was smart, he would re-sign for two years in New Orleans and see what Brees does. Even with the emergence of Taysom Hill as the Saints' second QB, he is more of a gimmick guy that can play all over the field. He is not the man to be a starter, by himself. It just would not work out like fans seem to think.
If they can keep Teddy Bridgewater, the Saints could do big things in the near future once Drew Brees decides to call it quits.
11 Traded: Andy Dalton
With 68 career wins in his first eight seasons, Andy Dalton ranks 13th on the all-time wins in a quarterback's first eight seasons. He is just three away from moving into ninth on that same list if he can win those before the end of the year, as long as he remains healthy.
However, even with all those wins, the one thing he does not seem to do is help them win anything in the postseason, having gone 0-4 in his only four career playoff appearances. That was back in 2014. The Bengals have not been back to the playoffs since and might be in trouble once again this season.
He is still set to make $16 million in 2019 and $17.5 million in 2020, which means he is far too expensive to simply cut. He could get them a nice return and possibly a few draft picks from a team looking for a quick fix at the QB spot. The time to trade him is going to be now, not later.
10 Released: Nathan Peterman
One of the running jokes among NFL fans is how many interceptions the Buffalo Bills Nathan Peterman is going to throw when he is announced as the starting quarterback. It comes behind the four starts he has made in his very short, two-year career, and the 12 interceptions he has thrown in those four games versus the three touchdowns.
When you break it down even further and take a look at NFL history, you will find that no other QB in the NFL has ever thrown 12 interceptions with just 68 completions in his first eight career games. It is a short list and Nathan Peterman is so far at the bottom, it is not even close.
He should be released and the Buffalo Bills should be ready to move along as they begin to work on their future behind Josh Allen, their rookie QB.
9 Signed: Brock Osweiler
It has been a long time since Brock Osweiler went 8-6 while throwing for 2,957 yards and 15 touchdowns in Houston. It feels as if that was a century ago. But it was just in 2016 when that happened. Since then, Brock has found himself in Denver and now Miami, where he has done a decent job filling in for the injured Ryan Tannehill.
And that is his job. He is a backup quarterback with the ability to start games during the season as needed. That is all you need from him and that is just about all he is going to give you. He has been able to audition for next season when he becomes a free agent and is going to be signed to play, probably in Miami. He very well could end up starting in Miami if they decide to move on from Ryan Tannehill next year.
Which is also a possibility.
8 Traded: Jameis Winston
As the season winds down, Jameis Winston continues to fight for his professional career and he has a few games left to prove himself the future of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He has put himself in this position by failing to progress throughout his career into the starter the Bucs expected him to become. He has battled injuries and a suspension, which has given Ryan Fitzpatrick a chance to take the job away from him, and he did for a few games, but that has not changed the fact that Jameis Winston was drafted to be their future and he has failed to become that man, in year four.
There are many factors that come into play but most of them deal with his decision-making and leadership skills. Is he someone that can take over the team and lead them to a Super Bowl? Can he stop throwing bad passes in clutch situations? Those are things he needs to fix now or he will be traded later.
7 Released: Tyrod Taylor
When Tyrod Taylor went down back in September and was replaced by rookie Baker Mayfield, who would go on to led the Cleveland Browns to a come-from-behind victory, fans knew his time in Cleveland was pretty much done. It was expected that, at some point this season, Baker was going to end up the starter after Tyrod’s lackluster start to the season.
He had a short leash to perform for a team that has gone 1-31 in the previous two years. No one thought he was the answer and when the Browns went out and traded for him shortly before the summer, fans were confused. They knew Baker Mayfield was coming to town and that this was not going to end up a good thing for anyone.
Since signing with the Browns, his head coach and offensive coordinator both got fired and a rookie has taken his starting job and not let go. So it is time to move along and let him find a job elsewhere in the league, which he will.
6 Signed: Josh McCown
At 39-years-old, his future is still a bit shaky and he could just as quickly retire following this season before signing to continue playing. That being said, the role of a veteran backup, especially one that has his experience and his knowledge, is to help the young players adjust to the NFL while also remaining available to start any game during the season.
But Josh McCown’s added value is that he can teach. He has done a great job of helping Sam Darnold every week by sharing his expertise and knowledge. He definitely comes at a discount and the fact that he can still step in and start games. This season he has two starts; that means he can still play and he could sign a one-year deal to play in this league.
5 Traded: Nick Foles
The Philadelphia Eagles have dealt with the injury bug this season and it has completely derailed them for the season, leaving them struggling to get into a wild-card game this postseason.
Last year, things were different and the Eagles, led by Carson Wentz, finished 13-3 and won the Super Bowl behind the arm of their backup, Nick Foles, who had to step in following Wentz’s ACL tear late in the season. Foles wound up winning the Super Bowl MVP and has returned to being a clipboard guy again, simply because a healthy Wentz is too good not to start.
The Eagles will find a team that wants Nick Foles and are willing to give up something amazing for him too. They should take advantage of it because he is a starter, and has proven himself in the 2017 playoffs. He was as clutch as they come and deserves a second chance in the NFL.
4 Released: Joe Flacco
Believe it or not, Joe Flacco is 33-years-old and has been the Baltimore Ravens' starting QB since 2008 when he led them to an 11-5 record. A few years later, in 2012, he would lead them to a Super Bowl victory. But the front office has decided that they are in need of a change and have replaced him with rookie Lamar Jackson, who has taken over for him since an injury and has not let go of the job.
The part about Joe Flacco’s game that hurts the most is that there have only been six QBs in NFL history, in their first eight seasons, to win at least 96 games, throw for more than 38,000 yards, and throw 200 or more touchdowns. That list includes Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, and Flacco himself.
So although he has struggled, and he has a pretty big contract he is still playing through, it might be time for the Ravens to move along because they obviously have already done it a few weeks ago anyway.
3 Signed: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Looking back to Week 1, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s incredible performance against the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome is even more amazing today because of the Saints incredible run to the top of the league’s power rankings. That game was fun to watch and he threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns after completing 75% of his passes. The following week, he did even better and completed 82% of his passes while throwing 402 yards and 4 touchdowns.
However, he has started seven total games this season and the only two wins came in the first two weeks of the season before teams started to plan their games around him. Now, he is struggling to find the open receivers or make the big play. But he has enough talent to be a starter and this is a league of forgiveness, but not forgetfulness. He came to Tampa Bay to be a backup and will be signed to be a backup somewhere in the league. It all depends on whether or not the team he signs with wants him to start or back someone up.
2 Traded: Blake Bortles
It seems that everyone else was right. Blake Bortles is not worthy of the starting QB position in Jacksonville and he has found himself single-handedly keeping their offense from flourishing with all of the questionable throws and poor decisions he has made since entering the league.
He needs to be a game manager and he could lead the Jaguars to the Super Bowl, but he just cannot seem to grasp that concept and continues to throw the ball into places he just cannot fit it into. He does not have the accuracy or the ability to hit the tight spots on the field but he does have the ability to keep the Jags offense moving forward, especially with those running backs.
Too many times have we seen Blake complete 57% or less on his passes, and that has caused him to become more than mediocre in this league.
1 Released: Eli Manning
Eli Manning’s time in New York, and the NFL for that matter, is probably coming to an end and he is the last person to agree to that. So much so that he continues to fight for his position each and every game. He is going to hold onto the Giants' starting QB position until they send him on his way, and that is no secret.
So as this year comes to a close, and the front office realizes that they are squandering the talented offensive players they have now, there will be a decision that will be made and it will be to release Manning and begin the moving on process.
That will give both parties a chance to protect their futures, including Eli Manning, who could wind up retiring, or signing somewhere else, like in Tampa Bay, Miami, or anywhere that he could get a shot at a starting job again.