Compared to basketball and baseball, football typically has a pretty underwhelming off-season. Blockbuster trades rarely happen and teams around the league are quick to use their franchise tag or offer a sizeable extension to their best few players in order to prevent them from hitting the open market. As a result, very few key skill-position players ever switch teams.
But this off-season could be different, at least when it comes to quarterbacks. With five remaining regular season games left this year, it already feels like an unprecedented number of quarterbacks will be landing in different cities.
Colin Kaepernick will be out in San Francisco … Peyton Manning may or may not be retiring, meaning Brock Osweiler may or may not be the Broncos quarterback of the future … Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel aren’t franchise players for their current teams … what’s going on in Philly?
In short, we could be in for one of the biggest quarterback carousels in recent NFL memory.
Let’s take a closer look at the madness, and all the quarterbacks likely to have new homes next season:
Robert Griffin III
RGIII hasn’t played a single minute this season and Kirk Cousins is enjoying the best extended play of his career. Each impressive performance from Cousins increases the likelihood that Cousins will get paid and Griffin will get cut after the season.
Remember: if Griffin is still on the roster at the start of next season, he is guaranteed $16 million. The ‘Skins will try to trade him, but no team will be interested in an injury-prone quarterback, especially one due $16 million.
The only scenario in which Griffin could theoretically stay in Washington is if the ‘Skins implode down the stretch, Jay Gruden gets fired, and the replacement head coach decides to go with Griffin over Cousins. This seems extremely unlikely, but crazier things have happened — especially to this franchise.
This one is relatively straightforward. Kaepernick won’t be on the 49ers next season, which means San Francisco will be in the market for a new quarterback and Kaepernick will likely land somewhere with similarly meek prospects at the position. The Browns and Texans immediately come to mind, but if Chip Kelly manages to keep his job in Philadelphia, it wouldn’t be crazy to see Kaep end up there, either.
Bradford is a free agent at the end of this season and, frankly, who knows where he’ll land. He certainly doesn’t gel with Chip Kelly, but Kelly’s time is likely up in Philadelphia, too. Might Bradford land in San Fran? Houston? Cleveland?
Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler
If Manning is healthy come the playoffs we could be in for quite the quarterback controversy. Osweiler, meanwhile, will continue to use every week to prove he’s a franchise quarterback. A lot is still up in the air in Denver, but don’t be so sure about Osweiler just yet. Remember Matt Flynn in Green Bay a few years back?
Another young, promising quarterback who has basically faded into irrelevancy (at least on the actual football field). Manziel continues to fall out of favour in Cleveland, who are starting Austin Davis over Manziel this weekend — the 24th quarterback the Browns have started since 1999. Many have linked Manziel to the Cowboys, which seems like a fine match because Manziel is from Texas and the Cowboys’ current crop of backups have been awful this season.
The larger question is what will happen in Cleveland. Will they draft another young quarterback, or try go to after someone cheap — like Griffin or Sam Bradford?
Drew Brees and Sean Peyton to the Rams … in Los Angeles?
Brees is 36 and will earn $19.75 million next season. With Sean Peyton almost certainly leaving in the off-season, teams will try to poach Brees away, too. The Jets and Eagles are both reportedly interested in making a play for him, but the most intriguing scenario, at least currently, is that Peyton becomes head coach of the Rams and brings Drew Brees with him — to Los Angeles, no less.
Other teams to keep an eye on…
- The Dolphins and Tannehill are not in a happy place at the moment, but it looks like it will stay that way at least for one more season.
- The Texans — who have one more year of Brian Hoyer but could try to upgrade with a trade or by drafting a franchise quarterback.
- The Jets — remember when this was supposed to be Geno Smith’s big year? Is that next year? What about Fitzpatrick?
- The Browns — see above. As of right now, there’s no quarterback the Cleveland front office isn’t considering.
All in all, the offseason could be quite unlike anything we’ve seen in the NFL for quite some time.
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