The NFL playoffs are primed to begin. Every playoff bound team is set with a signal caller for next season, and it’s said that to have a chance in the NFL, a team needs a good quarterback. If that is the case then that would explain why 20 of 32 teams in the league currently have a record of .500 or below. That’s astonishing considering how much money is paid not only to NFL quarterbacks but the front office personnel that are entrusted to secure the services of a competent field general. Next season, teams will shell out millions in free agency. There are only a few first round prospects at the quarterback position and they aren’t necessarily considered elite players. Their draft stock has more to do with necessity than it does to pure talent that translates to the NFL.
Here are a few free agent quarterbacks I feel may be on the move and the team(s) they’re likely to play for.
(Currently under contract with the San Francisco 49ers until 2020)
Best options for new team: Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals
Why? There are a few things to note about Kaepernick’s contract. It was considered to be a record breaking deal, however, the contract is only guaranteed for injury and has several criteria that could lead to de-escalators. It can be voided by April 1st and the 49ers can release him without penalty. With that said, there are rumors that he could remain in San Francisco next season. Head coach Jim Tomsula is not a lock to remain at the helm next season and a fresh start could help the struggling franchise.
If Kaepernick does leave, the Philadelphia Eagles (now without former head coach Chip Kelly) could be an ideal destination. Pairing him with running back DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Jordan Mathews could be a good start to rebuild after Kelly’s failed tenure. The Browns will be in the market for a quarterback and drafting the third first round QB in five years is not ideal. The Browns would be better suited to draft a mid-round quarterback and get a veteran such as Kaepernick with a team friendly contract. The Cardinals come to mind as the team desperately needing a backup quarterback for potential 2015 MVP Carson Palmer. Who has come back from an ACL injury and the team is too good to entrust to a mediocre backup. If Palmer was to go down, at least the team has insurance in Kaepernick to continue to compete in the NFC West.
(under contract with the New Orleans through the 2016 season. Projected cap hit of $30 million for 2016)
Best Options for New Team: Houston Texans, wherever Sean Payton is.
There are conflicting stories as to what the Saints plan to do with both head coach Sean Payton and Brees. After a remarkable run to a Super Bowl and multiple passing yard titles, the end seems near for Brees in The Big Easy. Payton may also be on the move as the team has missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons and the NFC South is rather young at quarterback. Jameis Winston (21), Cam Newton (26), and Matt Ryan (30) have plenty of time to create havoc for the 37 year old Brees. The Saints defense has also been historically bad the last few seasons and regardless if Payton is an offensive guru or not, the league has caught up to his schemes. A ‘mutual’ split may be on the horizon and there is one perfect fit for Brees should he leave the Payton nest.
The Houston Texans have a talented team that has been derailed by a lack of a competent quarterback. Head coach Bill O’Brien hitched his future to Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. Both quarterbacks have been so bad this season that the team had to call T.J. Yates back into the fold. They have passed up on several quarterbacks in recent drafts that could have at least been serviceable, most notably Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. If Brees were to leave New Orleans for Houston then the Texans would be an instant AFC contender. Running back Arian Foster should be returning from injury, they have a budding superstar in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and let’s not forget their formidable defense led by super-alien defensive end J.J. Watt.
Brees and Payton could decide to be a package deal with another team, like the Miami Dolphins or Philadelphia Eagles, but I think the two would be best off without each other.
Robert Griffin III
(under contract with Washington Redskins through 2016 with Team Option)
Best Options for New Team: New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, St Louis Rams.
Most people would think that RGIII’s career would be best suited on a team where he can become the instant starting quarterback. I think that is the worst thing that could happen. The Redskins have done him a favor by not playing him. RGIII has been relegated to 3rd string by a team that drafted him 2nd overall. The quarterback selected to back him up is now the starter and may receive a near-massive contract extension. Yet, I think RGIII is the winner in this situation.
How is that?
First of all, RGIII needed a public relations makeover. By not suiting up for many games this season, we have not heard much of anything from him. That helps. Moreover, he has had the time to get healthy. He can’t learn much by watching Kirk Cousins play, but what he should have learned this season is a sense of humility and how to become a student of the game. All the physical tools are there, from arm talent to mobility. Hopefully, he has a handle on his ‘handlers’ and he can go back to just playing football, drama free.
If Payton and Brees were to stay in New Orleans, RGIII would be a great fit. He is young enough where he can still sit another year or two as an understudy. Payton will find a way to utilize RGIII’s talent and when Brees is gone, the team would have the cap room to build around Griffin. The best scenario for RGIII is to be on a team with an established star quarterback that is exiting his prime and near retirement. The Cowboys are a good choice, as he can back up Tony Romo, whose health entering the twilight of his career should be a concern of owner Jerry Jones. Having a player of RGIII’s stature would fit into Jones’ “entertainment before winning” business model.
The Seahawks are a stretch, as they are a team that does not do well with distractions. However, if Russell Wilson were to get severely hurt, would the team want to rely on Tarvaris Jackson for multiple games? RGIII’s skill set is similar to Wilson’s and would at least give the team short-term insurance if Wilson goes down. The Rams are only intriguing considering that the team took all the Redskins draft picks to give up RGIII. I don’t see Jeff Fisher being pleased to have RGIII in the lockerroom as he does not do well with high maintenance players. However, the Rams will be in the market for a quarterback and with Fisher in the middle of his contract, he would have to put his faith in a veteran to secure his job. Irony?
(under contract with the Cleveland Browns through the 2017 season)
Best Options for New Team: Dallas Cowboys, CFL, Kansas City Chiefs.
All signs point to Manziel being released by the Browns after only two years on the team. Now that Mike Pettine has been relieved of his duties, there’s a chance he could stick around. The two seemed to be at war. Their personalities clashed and there was no trust. A new coaching regime could help Manziel, but looking at how the organization is run, it may not do any good. A change of scenery may benefit all parties involved.
The Dallas Cowboys would be the ideal destination for Manziel. Jerry Jones would love to have the Texas native backup Romo. Manziel would be able to maintain his star appeal in Dallas with an owner that is known to give players multiple chances. The Cowboys have gambled on reclamation projects before (La’el Collins and Rolando McClain), so Manziel would not be an issue. As for his value on the football field, the Cowboys have one of the best offensive lines and pairing with that and wide receiver Dez Bryant could lead to an interesting team.
The Canadian Football League is also an option. There have been many college stars that the NFL deemed not talented enough that have found success up north (Troy Smith of The Ohio State University comes to mind). A few years of seasoning in another league may do Manziel some good.
A far stretch is to backup Alex Smith in Kansas City, Head coach Andy Reid is still an innovative mind and could put Manziel in the best position to win when his time comes to be a starter.
Peyton Manning (Houston Texans), Sam Bradford (Jacksonville Jaguars), Geno Smith (San Diego Chargers)
Let us know who you think is on the move and where they are going.