The 2020 Offseason Quarterback Roulette Wheel

In a time of desperate need for sports, entertainment and pure happiness, the NFL offseason delivered this past week.  It turned out to be a smart move by the league office not to delay the start of the league’s new year.  Free agency’s beginning owned an otherwise completely dead and depressing time for sports, an industry that has practically been shut down completely thanks to the outbreak of the Coronavirus.  It brought massive joy to NFL fans, who saw stunning trades like DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona (Seriously, thanks Bill O’Brien!), Stefon Diggs to Buffalo and DeForest Buckner to Indianapolis.

For now, though, we’re going to focus on the quarterback market, which was projected to be a wild one and turned out to be.  It saw interesting decisions being made all over the NFL, and still has some to be made.

We’re going to look at every team that either changed quarterbacks, was rumored to be changing quarterbacks or should change quarterbacks and evaluate the decision they made, the other options they should have considered, or decide what decision they should still make depending on who’s at the helm.


The guy: Teddy Bridgewater, three years, $63 million

Other best fits:

  • Cam Newton
  • Will Grier 

There were extremely mixed signals around the Panthers when it came to Cam Newton’s spot on next year’s Panthers roster. The fact that there hadn’t been a lot of noise or rumors about where the signal caller may end up made it seem like he was staying, but then there were comments from new owner David Tepper that make that seem unlikely.

Tuesday, we got our answer as to what the Panthers plans were.

The only question with Newton was health. He’s a well-above-average quarterback when he’s fully healthy. Early in the 2019-20 season, his injuries made him below average. It’s hard to believe that those brutal throws were independent of his injury.

Carolina’s problem had always been surrounding him with enough offensive talent. That task would have been harder with Greg Olson gone, though Christian McCaffrey would have helped.

Regardless of who the quarterback was, the Panthers needed more weapons offensively.  For Newton, for a rookie, or for Teddy Bridgewater.

Bridgewater was the second most attractive option on the free agent market for any team with a non-rebuilding roster.  The Panthers don’t have a roster that’s rebuilding. They have talent on the defensive end, though releasing Eric Reid and signing Tre Boston back doesn’t make a ton of sense.  Aside from what was a leaky run stopping group last year, this defense is still immensely talented – talented enough to carry an average offense.

The Panthers with a healthy Newton would have been better than average offensively.  With Bridgewater, they’re probably right around there, and now have to solve the same deliemna they’ve been trying to solve with Newton for years now: how do they make it into a top five-to-ten group?

It’s not that Bridgewater isn’t good – he should have been the No. 1 option for the Chargers or Patriots.  It’s just that Newton feels like a better option for the Panthers than Bridgewater.  If he’s healthy, the ceiling is higher, and there’s less work to do with the rest of the team.  It’s understandable that Carolina is over the health concerns, but who’s to say they can be decently competitive within the three window that Bridgewater is currently there for?

Carolina also had other options besides signing a high-priced free agent.

Kyle Allen was really good until he wasn’t last year.  He looked like someone who the Panthers could turn to as a young franchise quarterback until the tail end of the season, where the lows were so low that it was clear that would never be the case.

Will Grier was horrific, but he got spurned in pretty quick to a situation that he probably never expected. He went from third-string to first-string over the course of a single season as a rookie, and played for a team that at that point had no hope.

Harping on Grier isn’t necessary, but if the Panthers find him as valuable as this report indicates, then some of it may actually be needed. Perhaps that’s a Cardinals fan who loves Kyler Murray reacting to it, but in no world was that a reasonable sentiment coming into the 2019 NFL Draft.  Plus, if the Panthers were that high on Grier, why did they all of the sudden sign Bridgewater?

The best option was Newton, and they didn’t even give him a chance.  In Bridgewater, Carolina slightly downgrades, and puts themselves backwards possibly a bit more than they imagined.


Best fits:

  • Joe Burrow

Not going to go too long here, especially since noise about Burrow possibly pulling an Eli Manning and forcing his way to another team was effectively shot down by Burrow himself at the combine.  A full scouting report will come the week of the draft, but there’s no other option Cincinnati should consider here.  They’re fully in a rebuild, and Burrow is one of the better QB prospects of the century thus far – he is fresh off perhaps the best season ever by a college football quarterback.  It’ll be more interesting to see, however, where the guy Burrow is replacing ends up.


The guy(s): Mitchell Trubisky, Nick Foles (For a fourth round pick)

Other best fits:

  • Andy Dalton
  • Derek Carr
  • Teddy Bridgewater
  • Cam Newton

The Bears were in the exact same situation as the Titans were coming into last season: they had a young quarterback who hadn’t lived up to the expectation they had set for him, and had a roster that was moderately being wasted.  It was time to make a decision on whether the current QB1 was going to be the guy.

The Bears still believe that Mitchell Trubisky is their guy. Poor them. Anyways, that meant that they couldn’t really commit to someone else. They couldn’t have drafted a quarterback to “put pressure” on Trubisky. It’s a waste of capital and looks bad. They also couldn’t have signed Ryan Tannehill, who was going to be looking for a starting gig and an obscene amount of money, which Tennessee handed to him.  After the season he had just put up, Tannehill wasn’t being brought into fulfill the same role he did last year with the Titans.

Derek Carr could have been another option.  Oakland likely won’t now, but if they decided to move on,  other teams and Carr himself wouldn’t view him as a backup QB.  He may not be fantastic, but he’s a competent starter. He would have been overqualified for the Bears.  The same goes for Cam Newton.

That left Andy Dalton and Nick Foles for the Bears, two quarterbacks who are both respectably fine, but more importantly lost their jobs and were looking for any role to help repair their value.  

Dalton made the most sense.  How?  He almost certainly would have been cheaper on the trade market than Foles, and costs just $17.7 million next season before hitting free agency a year from now, per  

Instead, the Bears traded a fourth-round pick (It seems ridiculous to think Cincinnati would charge more for that than Dalton, who they want to dump) for Nick Foles, who has a mammoth, three year, $66 million contract left on his docket, and the Bears didn’t get the Jaguars to pay for more than $12.5 million of it.

Why spend that much in draft capital and cap space for someone who needs a lot more help than Dalton?  We’ve seen Foles succeed with weapons around him – supreme weapons.  The Bears have a good defense – that part is there.  But there’s also questions about Matt Nagy as a coach even without his quarterback being Trubisky.  Foles needs as much help as he can get to succeed.  Dalton doesn’t need as much.  The “pressure” being put on Trubisky isn’t really that threatening with Foles, and the Bears spent a ton on it in order to be worse off.

Foles does have the chance to be successful if or when he takes over for the Bears.  There’s talent on both sides.  But it’s going to take improvement for both coach and player this time.


The guy: Dak Prescott, franchise tag 

Other best fits:

  • Teddy Bridgewater
  • Matthew Stafford
  • Derek Carr

Even though they just fired their head coach, the Cowboys are looking to win now.  That is always the Jerry Jones mentality.

And to be honest, they aren’t too far away.  There’s a really good case that Jason Garrett was the main cog holding this team back.

Mike McCarthy may not be a huge upgrade, but it’s worth giving them the benefit of the doubt for at least a season.

Bringing back Dak Prescott made the most sense because of that. They are running the whole thing back with McCarthy and then seeing what the problem is, if there is one at all.

There’s a chance the problem is Prescott, but we don’t know that for sure yet.  Franchise tagging him made the most sense. A long-term, high-money deal locks the Cowboys in, and make Prescott potentially untradeable if things don’t work out. That is not where you want to be.

The tag allows the Cowboys this season to evaluate the true issue. If Prescott plays well, ink him next offseason.  If he doesn’t, then move on.

It seems still extremely unlikely that Prescott would be on another team come Week 1 of the 2020-21 season. QB spots around the league are filling up, and Dallas seems keen on at least having the former Heisman Trophy contender play under a tag this season, if not a long-term deal.  At this point, trading Prescott due to a failed agreement before the extension deadline wouldn’t make sense.  Who takes over for Dallas that helps them compete next year?  Where does Prescott go?  Newton or Stafford (Extremely unlikely) would probably be the answer for the Cowboys.

For now, it seems that we’re heading for the same situation next offseason between Dallas and Prescott.  Buckle up.


Best fits:

  • Matthew Stafford
  • Tua Tagovailoa

This is a 100 percent “should do” rather than “will do” or “will happen.”

The Lions should be considering this possibility. They’ve gone practically nowhere with Matthew Stafford at the helm over the course of 11 seasons, and whether that’s his fault or not, he’s probably not the Hall of Fame quarterback some stack him up to be even with his massive numbers.

It’s time for a reboot, and Detroit has the opportunity here to do it in a big way.  While moving on from the longtime franchise QB to reach in the draft for an injury-prone prospect would be a risky proposition, the reward and ceiling would be so much higher.

But Detroit doesn’t operate in the risk business.  They’re in the safe and steady business – perfectly indicated by their 0-3 playoff record the past 11 years and their two seasons above ten wins. Despite some noise that they might be considering Tagovailoa at No.3 overall, it’s too bold of a proposition. Ownership would never sign off, and with GM Bob Quinn’s job teetering, this isn’t the type of move he’d make to save it.

The Lions won’t move on from Stafford for a quarterback they’d sign or trade for. That would make little sense, unless it’d be another young guy like Josh Rosen or Dwayne Haskins Jr. You’re not moving on from Stafford for anyone slightly better or worse.  It has to be a franchise reset for them to move on.  They’re in a position to do that, but with their openness to move the No. 3 overall pick, the talented pool of prospects available at that spot and the Lions historical unwillingness to make big-time, Tagovailoa to Detroit seems unlikely.


The guy: Philip Rivers, one year, $25 million

Other best fits:

  • Jacoby Brissett
  • Tom Brady
  • Nick Foles

Jacoby Brissett played well last season.  It was unreasonable to expect him to play any better.  The team dealt with injuries – including Brissett’s own – along with some regression after the hot start, which affected him drastically.

It was that slide that likely had the Colts exploring other options

But was the right pivot, if a pivot was needed at all, Phillip Rivers at $25 million for just a single season?  Brissett more than beat expectations for most of last year.  The Colts looked like a team that could legitimately win a playoff game, and perhaps advance further.  Brissett isn’t supremely talented, but the Colts had demonstrated that they can build a proper foundation around that type of guy – GM Chris Ballard hasn’t made a bad move since taking over.

Until now.

Brissett was a different quarterback once T.Y. Hilton got hurt in Week 7.  Aside from Hilton, the Colts do lack receiving talent, but Parris Campbell is on the up, and they have deadly duo in the backfield with Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines.  If they can add a receiver in the first two rounds of this draft – which is loaded at that position – then something is cooking.  

Because of these factors, the Colts should have taken next season to give Brissett another chance.  He would have had a healthy Hilton, perhaps another weapon and a full offseason to prepare for the starting quarterback role, as opposed to a couple weeks.

Instead, Indy is rolling with Rivers, who legitimately cost the Chargers games last year and truly feels washed.  Sure, there’s the previous connection to Colts head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, both of whom were Chargers assistants during Rivers’ time there.  But even with that familiarity and Reich’s QB stoutness, it just doesn’t make much sense.  Rivers is only going to play for a couple more years maximum, where as others options would have lasted longer and had higher ceilings.  Brissett never really got a fair shot last year, and he’s young enough to still have untapped potential.  Also: Rivers just isn’t very good anymore.

Even someone like Tom Brady would have been a better option. It’s not unreasonable to think that the six-time Super Bowl champion is better right now that Rivers.  Brady isn’t going to throw balls that cost his team the game.  He may not be able to make the throws he once did, and he may need more help than he ever has, but he still is Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback if all-time.  It may not have been that bad of a bet, especially if Reich worked his magic.

Like anyone, the Colts would have needed to add help around Brady, but they were ahead of that game – well ahead of the Patriots, at least.  

The Colts feel behind in the weapons game compared to the Chargers, but that ship between Rivers and his former team had sailed.

If Indy truly wanted to move on from Brissett, then Nick Foles should have been the target.  It seems ridiculous considering the contract he is on, and considering that his Super Bowl run just feels like the most flukey one in history, but it does seems more and more likely that Reich was the engine behind it, and is the engine behind multiple quarterbacks’ success.  Consider this: Reich was running the offense when Carson Wentz was awesome with the Eagles, and then translated that success to Foles, which resulted in a championship.  Reich left for Indianapolis, where he turns Eric Ebron into a monster and has Andrew Luck playing some of the best football of his career.  Meanwhile, Wentz struggles coming back from his ACL tear and Philadelphia massively underachieves.  Then, in 2019, Luck retires and Reich immediately turns Brissett into a more than viable starter while Wentz once again doesn’t return to his rookie form. Simultaneously, Foles goes to Jacksonville, gets hurt and then struggles in his return, leading him to get benched and get traded.

Didn’t Foles and Reich seem perfect for each other?  Perhaps Jacksonville expecting Indianapolis to take on the full salary of Foles like Chicago did was a massive turn-off and killed the deal.  The Colts were probably smart to not do it at that point, considering they’d have to give up draft capital on top of it to get the deal done.

If the Colts are out on Brissett and are keyed in on Rivers for just one year, what’s the plan for the future?  Rivers won’t be around long.  They traded their first round pick in this upcoming draft for Buckner (A good move, by the way).  With Rivers next year, they’re looking at competing, so they won’t be drafting high enough to land one of the studs at the top.  

Chris Ballard has been really smart since taking over for Ryan Grigson, but this move is his first befuddling one, and it could have a drastic effect on his legacy.


The guy: Gardner Minshew

  • Tua Tagovailoa
  • Justin Herbert
  • Jordan Love

Jacksonville’s situation is a perfect example of how quickly things can change in the NFL.  Just last offseason, the Jaguars signed Foles to a four year, $88 million contract and committed to him as their franchise quarterback.  They also took a flyer on Gardner Minshew in the sixth round of the 2019 Draft.  He was just a guy they liked.

It’s not necessary to address what happened. Jacksonville is planning to move forward with Minshew as their guy.  While Minshew became a media darling and blew everyone away with his play, there’s a chance he became a tad overrated.  While he outplayed Foles in the now-Chicago Bear’s limited sample size, Minshew wasn’t great the second half of the year.  Perhaps that the rookie effect and the limited talent around him was responsible.  Minshew over Foles is probably the right way to go, but Minshew over a quarterback in this draft may not be.  Then again, spending a high pick on a QB a year after you landed a potential gem late doesn’t serve as the best optics.  Jacksonville is a few years away after beginning what’s been a teardown this offseason, so they have time to evaluate whether Minshew is truly the right guy.

Las Vegas

Best fits:

  • Tua Tagovailoa
  • Derek Carr

Last year, it felt as if the Raiders were a year away.  They started out about average, then had a run where everyone looked at each other and went “Hey, they’re pretty good!” and then things crumbled again.

This could be the year where the ups and downs get turned around.  Josh Jacobs will be in year two and perhaps be even better, leading to a more dynamic offense.  Receiver help could come in the loaded draft.  They’re already plugging holes defensively in free agency, and have safety Jonathan Abram coming back for what’s essentially his rookie year.

All of this sounds great.  If it comes together, the Raiders are a playoff team.  But there’s also a case that the biggest problem with the Raiders is their current quarterback, and they might be thinking that way as well.

Ever since Jon Gruden was hired as head coach, there’s been rumblings about Derek Carr’s future with the Raiders.  There was Kyler Murray smoke at last year’s NFL Draft, and the relationship between Gruden and Carr hasn’t seemed to be very flowery.  This year, there’s smoke again, with rumors that Las Vegas could select a QB with the No. 12 pick, or that they had interest in Tom Brady and other available QBs. 

Marcus Mariota isn’t the QB that comes to mind when considering Carr replacements.  The former Oregon QB is a darling of GM Mike Mayock.  Mariota’s been less successful than Carr at the NFL level, and is younger, which doesn’t really put “pressure” on Carr.  He really shouldn’t be scared of losing his spot, unless….

Tagovailoa seems like a Gruden and Mayock player.  First, he’s Alabama-bred, and if the 2019 draft taught us anything, it’s that Las Vegas’ new regime loves prospects from blue-blood, successful programs.  Second, despite his injury concerns, Tagovailoa was a revolution in college, and for the SEC as a whole until Burrow had the season he just did.  If there weren’t those injury concerns, the Bengals would probably be having a debate about who to take at No. 1 overall.  Tagovailoa has got that much talent and that much potential.  The combination of accuracy at all levels of the field, and awareness is as good as any prospect in the last decade, and the arm strength concern is overrated.  Gruden loves studs, and Tagovailoa is one.  Armed with extra draft capital, they could make a move up.  It’s the only QB worth doing it for.

If not, then run it back with Carr and see what happens.  Give him that last opportunity and if next season stalls, evaluate the field and reconsider in 2021.

Los Angeles Chargers

The guy: Tyrod Taylor

Other best fits:

  • Dak Prescott
  • Cam Newton
  • Teddy Bridgewater
  • Tom Brady

The Chargers always let us down.  For the past half-decade, injuries, underachievement and #chargering have plagued the high expectations laid for them every year.  Now that Phillip Rivers – who could be blamed for a fair share of last year’s struggles – is gone, the Chargers are able to evaluate the rest of their talented roster not resting at a constant disadvantage.

If it remains healthy, there’s a lot to like about what the Chargers have.  It’s top five defense by talent (With Chris Harris Jr. added in free agency, they’re downright scary), and there’s arguably a surplus of offensive weapons.  Trai Turner serves as a massive boost on the offensive line after being inexplicably traded by Carolina for Russell Okung, and the team added help at tackle with Bryan Bulaga.  Austin Ekeler also got re-upped for a nice price – he’s a pass-catching running back who’s a nice weapon for whoever plays under center.

Bottom line: the Chargers shouldn’t be giving up on this group just yet.

Which is why their decision to just roll with Tyrod Taylor after losing out on Tom Brady and not pursuing Teddy Bridgewater is odd.

Bridgewater would have been the perfect fit for this Chargers roster.  There was enough talent on both sides of the ball to support him, and he’s young at 27 years old.  If things panned out with the former Saints, Jets and Vikings QB, you would’ve had a quarterback for the foreseeable future.  With someone like Tom Brady, you’re looking at three years and then another reboot.

Brady wasn’t a bad Plan B though.  Despite his age and decline, the Chargers have a talented group that just needs to stay healthy.  They’ve got the weapons and a fantastic defense.  It could have been enough to bring Brady back up to a competent or above average level of play.

In addition, Brady’s limited years remaining allow the Chargers to evaluate the rest of the roster.  If they didn’t go anywhere with Brady in the next three years, once the QB retired, the Chargers could then breakup their core and completely reboot.

Brady simply didn’t choose them, and there’s nothing they can do about that.   But the lack of interest – at least reported interest – in Bridgewater is confusing.

Someone like Prescott would have obviously been the best option, because of youth and talent, but that was too unrealistic, and trading for him now would cost an arm and a leg.

There’s one easy option left for the Chargers, one that won’t cost an arm and a leg and is expendable.  While injuries have been their kryptonite for years, Newton would be an immediate upgrade at the position and raise their ceiling higher than it’s ever been.  There’s serious risk there, but the cost won’t be scary.  If Newton does get hurt, Taylor is waiting, and he provides a high enough floor, a floor that the Chargers seem to believe in this year.

If the Chargers don’t get Newton, then what’s the plan?  This roster still feels too good to restart at the quarterback position.  Drafting a rookie and having him potentially sit for a year (Herbert?) while signing a big time free agent like Chris Harris Jr. are two transactions that pull in opposite directions.  Sure, the case could be made that the rest of the roster can pull a rookie QB up to a higher level, but you first have to make sure that QB is good and actually you’re future in order for that to be the case.

Maybe the Chargers have something really surprising coming.  If they don’t, Taylor isn’t bad, but it will once again feel like more wasted talent, which is just what we’re used to with this team.


Best fits:

  • Tua Tagovailoa
  • Justin Herbert
  • Dwayne Haskins Jr.
  • Josh Rosen

Miami has been weirdly aggressive in free agency thus far, which include the signing of former Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy and star cornerback Byron Jones.  They’re certainly putting something competent together, which is indicative that they’re interested in at least being competitive next year rather than tanking.

Miami attempted to tank last season in order to secure their quarterback of the future in this year’s draft, which many figured to be Tagovailoa.  The Dolphins failed miserably at tanking for him, but will likely end up with him anyways thanks to his own draft stock falling.

If Tagovailoa’s stock rises, or someone jumps Miami to get him, then they could select someone like Herbert, or inquire about Haskins’ availability.  They’ve seemed to jump ship on Rosen – he’s likely done, but giving him next year may not be so bad.  If he shines, he’s your guy.  If he’s bad, then great, you’re in prime position to draft Trevor Lawrence next year.

Miami didn’t undertake this massive tank job to get themselves Justin Herbert or Jordan Love.  Moves like the ones they made were to land someone generational – like a Burrow, Tagovailoa or Lawrence.  If they lose out on the former Alabama star in April, it seems likely Miami will attempt to be as bad next year as they planned to be this season.

New England 

Best fits:

  • Dak Prescott 
  • Cam Newton
  • Jacoby Brissett 
  • Andy Dalton
  • Derek Carr

With Tom Brady gone, the Patriots probably need to start over.

But that’s probably not the way Bill Belichick is going to want to roll.

The split with Brady feels ego-driven on both sides.  Brady still thinks he’s the quarterback he once was.  Belichick knows Brady is not, and doesn’t feel like he owes him because of that.  In Belichick’s mind, Brady is a liability.  He may not be wrong.

To stick it to Brady, Belichick is going to want to prove he can win with anyone.  At 67 years old, the Patriots head coach probably doesn’t have a lot of time left at the helm of the organization.  He’s got one last bit of business to prove.  He doesn’t want to rebuild.

Cam Newton is the best fit for Belichick and New England given what they want to accomplish.  While it’s likely smarter for them to blow it up and start over, that’s not going to happen.  Newton would give Belichick a strong-armed quarterback with some mobility – a combination he hasn’t ever had before.  It’d also provide a high enough floor to make New England at least good next year.  Aside from Van Noy, the core of a defense that some numbers would suggest was historically good last year is returning.  The offense as a whole needs work, especially around Newton, whose variable health can really limit his arm strength and overall performance.

Prescott is listed above Newton because he’s younger and would be less risky for the Cowboys.  But it’s extremely unlikely to happen for reasons stated above.

Brissett would be really intriguing.  Indianapolis has pivoted from him and is turning toward Rivers now. Belichick would love to get the QB back he lost so egregiously. It would be terrifying to let Brissett walk back into Foxborough after showing what he could do last season.  New England would have to be taken seriously.

But there does seem to be a celling on Brissett, and just like the problem with Brady, the offensive infrastructure as currently set up probably wouldn’t be there to support him.  With Newton or Prescott, those guys can elevate a lesser roster when healthy.

Bridgewater would have been another really nice option, before he was brought in to replace Newton in Carolina.  After Newton, who’s probably the most talented QB available, New England could pivot to the Andy Daltons and Derek Carrs of the world.  Dalton’s name has been floated a bunch.  It’d be the ultimate redemption tour for Belichick – showing he can win with the world’s most average quarterback.  It seems unwise to rule out such a move given his shrewdness.

Carr is probably the last resort here, especially given that Las Vegas seems to be keeping him for next season. 

It seems like the Patriots have a move coming.  Whatever it may be, it will be fascinating.

Tampa Bay

The guy: Tom Brady, two years, $50 million

Other best fits:

  • Dak Prescott
  • Cam Newton
  • Derek Carr
  • Nick Foles
  • Teddy Bridgewater

It still feels surreal that Tom Brady won’t be in a New England Patriots uniform this coming NFL season.  It always just felt like he’d be there forever, and that all the rumors about the unhappiness and the possibility of him leaving were just tactical on his part.

For Brady, this move doesn’t make a lot of sense.  The greatest quarterback of all-time has undoubtedly declined the past two seasons, with last year being perhaps the biggest wakeup call of all.  This move to Tampa Bay feels very Michael Jordan-Wizards-ish.  You could have stepped away essentially on top of a mountain.  Instead, you’re risking coming down from it, and hurting your legacy in the process.

Perhaps his legacy is just hurt from a loyalty standpoint. Twenty seasons with one team is unprecedented.  Brady had a chance to do more than that.  Instead, he’s going to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But Tampa Bay could actually represent a progression of thought from Brady.  With Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, OJ Howard and Cameron Brate, Brady now has one of the top wide receiver and tight end duos in football.  He’s got the weapons around him – weapons that could help him elevate back to the level he used to be.  New England couldn’t offer that.  Brady knew he couldn’t carry them anymore.  He might have understood what his own new ceiling was.

Still, it will take proof from Brady to show that he’s an above-average quarterback.  That’s the bet that the Patriots and Belichick are making here.  It’s probably a smart one, especially considering that New England’s offense is far away from being one that’s in contention.  Tampa Bay’s weapons are going to have to carry Brady, rather than the other way around.  That’s a chance he is probably welcoming that reality.

Tampa Bay’s defense was confusing last year.  Some numbers had them near the bottom of the league (points allowed) while others had them near the top (DVOA).  The secondary was likely responsible for its downs, while the front seven was responsible for its ups.  The offense has the potential to be so good that the defense won’t need to be relied on as heavily.  As long as the Buccaneers are above-average on the defensive end, they should be able to be okay.

The Bucs thinking in bringing in Brady is interesting.  He’s almost certainly an upgrade over Jameis Winston, but Brady will be 43 by the time the season starts, and signed just a two year contract.  It seems hard to believe that Brady will be living up to the $25 million per year in the final year of the deal given what’s occurred the past two seasons.  Tampa Bay brought Brady in for two years and will then have to start over at the most important position in football when he’s done.

Prescott would have been perfect, but Dallas tagged him almost immediately.  The draft compensation given up to go get him would have been astronomical.  Newton would be the next best option, even with the health risks.  The ceiling is super high there, and he’s obviously much younger than Brady.  Carolina would have dumped him for cheap with Bridgewater’s signing, and Tampa Bay would’ve gotten a strong-armed QB that fit well in Bruce Arians system.  The medicals on him must be more frightening than anyone knows.  

Carr and Foles represented the next potential options, but it seems that Las Vegas would’ve had to be overwhelmed to move Carr – draft pick compensation would have to be high.  Foles would have been really interesting.  In Tampa, he’d have an excellent offensive coach in Arians, a killer group of weapons and what would likely be a decent defense.  That’s the prime recipe to have Foles be a legit quarterback in this league.  He just needs help.

Bridgewater, who’s been atop mosts of the lists in this column, is near the bottom because of one flaw: scheme fit.  The same case can be made for Brady, who’s arm seems to be weakening based on the past two seasons.  Bridgewater just doesn’t throw far enough downfield to make do in Arians’ offense.  With those receivers, you’re wasting talent if you don’t have a quarterback who can get it there.  Bridgewater really can’t.

Which is what makes the choice of Brady so confusing in a way.  If you were going to pick a quarterback who may not have the best arm and may not be the best scheme fit, then why not go with the younger one who could potentially be your future in Bridgewater?  Instead, you’re essentially getting two years of Brady.  Yes, it matters that Brady is the best quarterback of all-time, and that he won a Super Bowl just two years ago, and that he’s a winner, and that he affects the locker room and draws fans and what not.  But in terms of pure talent, the gap between someone like Bridgewater and Brady might be dwindling.  The NFC South standings will be the answer as to which team made the right call.


  • Dwayne Haskins Jr.
  • Tua Tagovailoa

There was literally *one* report that said Washington was considering drafting Tagovailoa to compete with Dwayne Haskins Jr.  It’s likely not happening, but even with a new management change, nothing can be ruled out with this franchise.

That one report was also worded oddly.  Say Washington is going to use the No. 2 overall pick to draft Tagovailoa.  It wouldn’t be a “competition” between the two.  If you use the No. 2 overall pick on a quarterback, he’s your guy.  You wouldn’t dare have him lose a battle in training camp and bench him.

Drafting Tagovailoa would have to make Haskins Jr. expendable, which is why his name has appeared on other lists in this column.

Washington shouldn’t give up on Haskins Jr. so soon.  Jay Gruden wasn’t the right coach, and the infrastructure for the rookie quarterback just wasn’t there last year.  With Ron Rivera representing a stable, veteran option at head coach, Washington should move forward with the guy they spent last year’s first round pick on.  Haskins Jr.’s arm is too good to cut bait so soon.

Some notes on guys who didn’t appear in this list:

  • It’s likely obvious from the analysis of what the Colts did, but Rivers literally showed zero evidence last season that he should be a starting quarterback.  Indianapolis literally chose a guy who would have made zero sense for every other team in the league.
  • The same goes for Jameis Winston.  Who watched him throw 30 interceptions last year and went “We can fix that?”  He’s not young, untapped potential anymore, and it seems as if the rest of the NFL agrees with that thinking based on his market.
  • In addition, the same can be said for Ryan Tannehill.  Who besides Tennessee was going to bring him in and make him a starter?  Sure, the Titans felt obligated to.  Starting over after coming within a game of making the Super Bowl seems redundant.  But did they remember everything Tannehill was in Miami?  There’s no doubting the change of scenery helped him this past season, but that can wear off over time.  Tannehill needs significant help around him to be a potential Super Bowl starter.  The Titans could offer that.  Not many other teams could.
  • Taysom Hill is not a starting quarterback in the NFL.  Carry on.
  • Other names who got consideration for being options: David Blough, Nick Mullens, Kyle Allen.