It is rare that there are so many viable starting quarterbacks available in the NFL off-season. Right now there are at least two players who can help turn a franchise around and another two that could help upgrade a team to a possible playoff contender. Add this to an underwhelming quarterback draft class and we have the makings of an exciting free agency period.
Below are some interesting quarterback landing spots that aren’t getting as much attention as they deserve.
Projected Quarterback Landing Spots
Jimmy Garoppolo – Chicago Bears
Adam Schefter reported the New England Patriots will be holding onto Jimmy Garoppolo this season, and that may be the case, but it certainly doesn’t hurt his value to say this even if you are open to trading him. In the past the Bears have been interested in former Patriots players and these two franchises have pulled off a couple trades recently, too (Martellus Bennett, Jon Bostic).
The Bears’ new management has worked hard to upgrade the roster over the last two seasons but have had little to show for it on the field. Their front seven is loaded with potential. They have strong players at wide receiver and running back, and they have even upgraded the offensive line. But for the last two seasons underwhelming play at the quarterback position has made it difficult to evaluate if they have made any real improvement. It is time for the Bears to fix the quarterback position and find out where their team really stands.
Secondary Option: Cleveland Browns
They have the most assets to pull off a trade if they really desire Garoppolo. But did they really spend all of last season acquiring a ridiculous amount of draft capital just to blow it on one player? Probably not. Besides, there is a cheaper option for them.
Tyrod Taylor – Cleveland Browns
The logical choice seems like Tyrod Taylor staying in Buffalo, but the Bills gave up on logic back in ’99. Besides, something about Taylor to Cleveland just feels right. They are all about value, and Taylor can provide starting quarterback numbers for cheaper than starting quarterback pay. Head coach Hue Jackson would love working with the young signal caller who turns 28 just before the season starts.
Signing Taylor to a reasonable deal would allow the Browns to focus on spending their significant draft capital upgrading other parts of the roster. Taylor’s contract is likely to be reasonable enough that they don’t need to make a long-term commitment to sign him either.
Secondary Option: Buffalo Bills
At the moment, I don’t know what their other options are, so I have a tough time understanding why they don’t want him back. It seems general manager Doug Whaley really wants EJ Manuel to succeed.
Tony Romo – Kansas City Chiefs
When Chiefs coach Andy Reid watches the film from his team’s Divisional Round loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, he has to come to the realization that the team needs an upgrade at quarterback. Where else can they realistically improve the roster? Their defense is top notch. The offensive line is adequate, and they have several standout players at the offensive skill positions.
The question Reid needs to ask himself is if Kansas City wins that game with Tony Romo at quarterback? If the answer is yes then the Chiefs have to give it a shot because this version of the team might not be around much longer. The Chiefs have several aging veterans and are already up tight against the salary cap. Romo is a big risk, but a risk that makes sense for this team.
Secondary Option: Denver Broncos
The Broncos are the most logical landing spot in the Tony Romo sweepstakes but they reportedly are not interested. It is tough to totally believe this, so they grab the number two spot here.
Jay Cutler – San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are going to want to win right away, and if they don’t like their options in the draft, Jay Cutler might be the most logical choice. Cutler was selected by Mike Shanahan 11th overall in the 2006 draft. Shanahan only got to work with Cutler for a few years before being fired. Mike’s son Kyle Shanahan is the new 49ers head coach and he needs a starting quarterback.
Although Cutler is no longer talked about as a top quarterback, he still gives a team a chance to win and clearly is a system fit for what Kyle Shanahan will being trying to implement in San Francisco. Cutler is unlikely to fetch top dollar in free agency, so the 49ers can sign Cutler and push him to be the starter without sacrificing their plans for a long-term solution.
Secondary Option: New York Jets
If San Francisco shows no interest in Cutler then his options to be a starter may be limited. The Jets sorely need a quarterback and Cutler seems like he has Jets written all over him.
Alex Smith – Buffalo Bills
If the Chiefs do elect to go with Tony Romo, then Alex Smith and his big salary will be on their way out the door. Smith will look around for a starting gig in the league somewhere but options will be limited. The Bills (having moved on from Tyrod Taylor) offer one of the few spots where he would be able to compete to be a starter at this point in his career.
Buffalo seems like a strong fit for Smith. The Bills are a running team with a strong offensive line that only requires a complimentary quarterback.
Secondary Option: Chicago Bears
If the Bears are indeed in win-now mode, then Smith will give them stability at the quarterback position they haven’t had in many years.
Colin Kaepernick – New York Jets
Colin Kaepernick has opted out of his contract with San Francisco and is now a free agent. But his play has been less than inspiring since the departure of former head coach Jim Harbaugh. There is unlikely the be a market for Kaepernick as a starting quarterback, but if that is what he is looking for he may have one option.
The Jets roster is a total mess and they don’t have any viable starting quarterbacks either. They are one of the few teams in the league who could realistically offer Kaepernick a chance to start.
Secondary Option: Carolina Panthers
It is time the Panthers move on from Derek Anderson as their backup quarterback.
Bonus: Johnny Manziel – San Francisco 49ers
As of March 1st, 2017 the San Francisco 49ers have zero quarterbacks on their roster. They need options! Johnny Manziel is ready to make a comeback and his mobility and arm strength make him an ideal fit for the Shanahan offensive system.
Both Kyle Shanahan and general manger John Lynch signed six-year contracts. They can both afford to take a couple chances early on in their tenure. Manziel is a buy low candidate that won’t cost the franchise anything but could play himself into a backup role if given the chance.