NFL free agency is just about here, and with the legal tampering period officially beginning on Monday, we could be in store for one of the wildest periods of QB movement in recent memory.
Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor, Mitchell Trubisky, Alex Smith and Jacoby Brissett are among the starting-caliber QBs that are available in free agency. Additionally, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Derek Carr, Jimmy Garoppolo, Teddy Bridgewater and Marcus Mariota are all accomplished signal callers that could be available via trade, and the draft is full of excellent QB prospects.
The destinations for each of these players will become clearer as teams fill out their rosters throughout the week, but we already know that certain teams will be in the market for a new quarterback. The question is, how desperate is each team? Which front offices will risk it all, and which will be content taking a flier on a lower-risk guy or keeping the quarterback they have?
Below we have ranked the QB-needy teams based on how desperate they will be to make a move, whether it be Wednesday, during the draft or beyond:
1. Chicago Bears
There is no other answer at No. 1. Want a reason? Their only QB under contract is Nick Foles. Oh, and Khalil Mack and an elite defense are sick of sharing the field with a terrible offense every year. Oh, and GM Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy are on flaming-hot seats. Oh, and they have never had a 4,000-yard passer in their 101-year history. All options need to be on the table – even if they have to trade an entire draft’s worth of picks.
Best fit: Russell Wilson
Value: Marcus Mariota
2. Washington Football Team
Like the Bears, Washington has an excellent defense, one that should continue to emerge as Chase Young and Montez Sweat improve. But they released Alex Smith and 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins, and the only healthy QB on their roster is one-game wonder Taylor Heinicke. A playoff berth at 7-9 may have hurt their chances to secure a quarterback at the top of the draft.
Best fit: Jameis Winston
Value: Tyrod Taylor
3. Denver Broncos
John Elway has cycled through a list of uninspiring (and tall) quarterbacks since Peyton Manning left in 2015. Denver thought they had something in Drew Lock, so they loaded up on weapons in 2020. But it turned out – like Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Joe Flacco – that Lock isn’t the franchise quarterback Elway thought. This is a team that could win now – if they had the right guy under center.
Best fit: Deshaun Watson
Value: Ryan Fitzpatrick
4. New England Patriots
One might think that by re-signing Cam Newton to another one-year deal, New England is done with its QB search. But if one thinks that, one did not watch Newton last season. There’s no doubt Bill Belichick is at least feeling some heat after Tom Brady won the Super Bowl in their first season apart.
Best fit: Trey Lance
Value: Jacoby Brissett
5. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers made it to the Super Bowl with Jimmy Garoppolo, but he has missed 23 games in the past three years. And though they win when he is healthy, it’s often in spite of him. The Chiefs, too, were good before Andy Reid got Patrick Mahomes. Let’s give Kyle Shanahan his Mahomes.
Best fit: Deshaun Watson
Value: Mitchell Trubisky
6. Carolina Panthers
One year after giving Teddy Bridgewater a three-year deal, it has become pretty clear that he is not the future in Carolina. The Panthers have a hotshot coach and a roster loaded with young talent. Now they need a young QB of the future.
Best fit: Justin Fields
7. New York Jets
The Jets are in a position of power, holding the second-overall pick and a theoretically salvageable top-pick QB in Sam Darnold. The two options: draft a quarterback, or hold onto their guy and build around him in hope that he will finally blossom as the Adam Gase stench fades.
Best fit: Zach Wilson