Submitted by Jim Feist on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 at 12:00 AM
As we reach the end of another NFL season, many teams will already be looking forward to next year’s draft and free agent market to fill holes in their roster – especially at quarterback. The group of QB’s coming out this year has some first rounders. Josh Rosen of UCLA is likely the best of the best and a projected 1st round pick. Sam Darnold of USC could come out and would also likely be a 1st round pick. Josh Allen of Wyoming was injured late in the season, but should be good to go and likely a 1st round pick. Also going in the late 1st round to 3rd round is Lamar Jackson of Louisville, Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, Clayton Thorson of Northwestern and Drew Lock of Missouri.
The NFL Free agent market just got less attractive with the San Francisco 49ers landing Jimmy Garoppolo. Drew Brees likely will return to New Orleans after his stellar season. Kirk Cousins should stay in Washington barring some screw up by the Redskins’ management. The high end of the market also could have Alex Smith, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers. The problem with NFL teams today is Cap space. We saw what happened to the Seawawks when they forked over the big cash to sign Russell Wilson. They lost their entire offensive line and their rushing game with it. What bargain QB’s might be available? The Minnesota Vikings have a pair of QB’s in Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum. Keenum has been the savior for the Vikings this season. Josh McCown of the New York Jets is 39 years old and if he doesn’t retire could be the Jets best option is to keep him. There are others, but these are the most notable.
How are the NFL teams moving forward? The Patriots Tom Brady says he wants to play until he’s 45 and frankly, he looks like he could do it and do it well. Brady always seems to remain healthy and as long as he has that Bill Belichick connection, the Patriots look to remain top contenders. The Steelers have Ben Roethlisberger who has hinted at retirement. Right now they have Landry Jones at backup, but moving forward they need to start thinking long term. Buffalo has Tyrod Taylor with Nathan Peterman backing him up. I’m not convinced Taylor is a player you can build a team around, but it might be as simple as the right coach to do the job.
The Dolphins gave Jay Cutler 10 million dollars to sign with them, a move I think they will greatly regret if they don’t already. This is a guy that already retired, but was lured by the big payday to come back. Matt Moore is backing up Cutler, but could go elsewhere this year in free agency. The Dolphins are in emergency mode at QB and will need to draft or get someone more reliable.
The NY Jets have good coaching and we have seen what they did this year with 39-year old Josh McCown at the helm. McCown could be the Jets best option for 2018 at this point. While he’s a bit old to build a team around and there isn’t anyone behind him, the Jets can be competitive.
The Browns are a mess; they have DeShone Kizer, Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler in the merry go round that is Cleveland. Can you build a team around any of these guys? Doesn’t appear so.
The Bengals are just as bad as Cleveland with Andy Dalton at the helm. They have been horrible and with AJ McCarron as the backup, they should be looking at QB as a top stop to fill going forward. The Ravens are still solid at QB with Joe Flacco starting and Ryan Mallett as the backup.
What is going on with Andrew Luck of Indianapolis Colts? He misses all of 2018 and now the question is whether he will come back or retire? He wasn’t really upfront with his injuries last year as many people thought he was going to play in 2017. Is Jacoby Brissett the future or do the Colts need to get into the free agent market as they have plenty of Cap space?
The Houston Texans have one of the best young QB’s in Deshaun Watson. Before his injury in 2017 we saw just how talented he is and that a team can definitely build a winning program around him. The Texans had lots of injuries in 2017 and going forward if they can remain healthy they will be a Super Bowl contender with Watson leading the way.
The Tennessee Titans had a disappointing season and QB Marcus Mariotta was not the breakout star many expected to see this year. He did play through some injuries, but I also think this is a coaching issue. There was something wrong with this team and I just haven’t put my finger on it yet other than coaching.
The surprise team and QB had to be the Jaguars. Blake Bortels has been looked at as the QB to get them to that other franchise QB. However, the way he has improved in 2017, he could be the player to continue building this team around. He’s only 25 years old, 6’5” tall and 230lbs so he has plenty of size and youth on his side.
The Denver Broncos need a lot of help. They still have a top defense, just not the offense to match. It’s obvious that neither Trevor Siemian nor Brock Osweiler are the players the Broncos can build this offense around. Paxton Lynch could still have a future, though I think in 2017 the coaching of this team really hurt them. I think Denver needs a complete coaching overhaul and they need a free agent QB to complement an already top notch defense. Maybe another Manning at QB?
The Raiders were lucky last year; they won a lot of close games. Derek Carr made mistakes in 2017 and the Raiders receivers dropped a lot of balls. Carr will remain as the QB in Oakland/Las Vegas for years to come, but he needs players who hold onto the ball.
The Chargers have Phillip Rivers, a QB that has never performed well on the big stage. Rivers plays well, but when big games are on the line, he melts away. The Chargers are a team that should start thinking of someone to replace Rivers.
The Chiefs are the most solid team in the AFC West with Alex Smith at QB. They have Patrick Mahomes ready to take over, someone they are very high on as their future of this team. For now, Smith is still solid, completes lots of passes and makes plays with his legs.
The NFC East has lots of good QB’s, with Eli Manning being the one who could leave in free agency. The Giants had lots of injuries and coaching issues, but Manning might be ready to finish up with a team that is ready to win a Super Bowl.
The NFC West just got better as Garoppolo went to San Francisco and gives the 49ers a true pocket passer. The Rams look solid with Jared Goff and Seattle has Wilson. Wilson right now has to do everything on this team with no rushing game and a poor offensive line. The Cardinals are a mess with Carson Palmer, Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton. None of those QB’s look to be the answer to this team and I look for them to make off season moves.
For the rest of the teams, only the Bears look to be a team in need of direction at QB. They have Mitchell Trubisky right now, though I am not happy with how the coaching staff has handled his development. Behind him are Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez, two players no one will build teams around.
It should be an interesting draft and free agent market as we see which teams are ready to make big moves. Salary Caps do play a big part in what a team can do and how they achieve those goals.