NFL Quarterback Report: An Update on Who's Going Where and Who's Staying Put

NFL Jan 31, 2021

At least 13 NFL teams have big question marks at the quarterback position for next season.  In the immediate aftermath of the blockbuster Rams-Lions trade that will (reportedly) swap Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford, here's a look at the most intriguing teams with open questions about who will be playing quaterback next season.

Dallas Cowboys – Dak Prescott and the Cowboys could not come to an agreement last year, and the team had to resort to a franchise tag for 2020.  If Prescott plays in 2021 under the same franchise tag, then he's likely to play somewhere else in 2022.  So, would Dallas trade him now in order to avoid that scenario?  If he leaves as a free agent, Dallas gets absolutely nothing in return.  

In his five NFL seasons, Prescott is 42-27 as a starter in regular season games, but just 1-2 in playoff games.  It's worth noting that owner Jerry Jones is age 78; so, he probably doesn’t want a rookie QB playing or an unproven starter, which could take years to develop.  Odds are Prescott will get a huge deal because he knows the Cowboys have few other options.

Miami Dolphins – A rising team in the AFC East, the dolphins now have two QBs, but will either one be their starter in 2021?  Here are some stats on both:

— Player A was 4-3 as a starter last season, and threw for 2,091 yards, with 13 TD’s, 8 INT's
— Player B was 6-3 as a starter last season, and threw for 1,814 yards, with 11 TD’s, 5 INT's.

Okay, so "Player A" is Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is 38, the only player EVER to throw a pass for eight different NFL teams.  And "Player B" is Tua Tagovailoa, who was a rookie last year, but has shown an inability to stay healthy, in both college and the NFL.

Will either be the starter for Miami next fall?  Strong lean to Ragovailoa, simply due to his age.

Carolina Panthers — Interesting stat many fans don't know....the Panthers have the wealthiest owner in the NFL; David Alan Tepper is worth $13 billion. Really rich people aren’t patient; Carolina is 17-31 the last three years; their current QB is Teddy Bridgewater, who at age 28 has already started for three NFL teams (26-24 under center).

As far as the really rich owner being impatient, Carolina is rumoured to be aggressively trying to trade for Houston's Deshaun Watson, who played college ball in the ACC, at Clemson.  That seems like a good fit, assuming Watson wants to play on a young team with lots of uncertainties.

New Orleans Saints
— The Saints have some major issues to deal with.  With Drew Brees retiring, they go into the offseason expecting to be $100M over the salary cap, so they are priced out of the market for trading for any of the big name free-agent QB’s.  Will they stick with their bench -- Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston as their starters?  Or, will New Orleans draft a quaterback and depend on Sean Payton to develop his skills?

How about this for an interesting possibility:  Would New Orleans trade for Sam Darnold, if the Jets were to deal him away?

New England Patriots – The Patriots went 7-9 this past season, which was their first losing season in 20 years.  Seeing Tom Brady playing in the Super Bowl, you figure New England will be aggressive in trying to move back up the standings in an improving AFC East.

Concerns have given way to panic:  Cam Newton is not the right fit for this team or the offense.  He didn't show the leadership that was expected and his arm looked to be on a downward trajectory both in accuracy and strength.  And here's a scary thought:  If Newton was playing ahead of Jarrett Stidham, what does that say about Stidham?  Brian Hoyer figures to hang around as a backup, but who will he be backing up?

There are rumors about a trade for bustout Marcus Mariota, who is 30-33 as an NFL starter and is an average starter, at best.  New England's quarterback situation is currently a mess – which is something no sportswriter has typed in 25 years.

San Francisco 49ers – The last four years, the 49ers are 24-9 with Jimmy Garoppolo under center, and just 7-27 with anyone else.  That alone would settle any QB controversy on most teams, but not here.  What stands out as an even bigger issues is – injuries.  Garoppolo always seems to be hobbled (three injuries in three seasons).  So, will the 49ers move on from Garoppolo, and if so – to whom?  The dearth of options on the open market is likely to keep Jimmy G. wearing crimson and gold for one more season.

Philadelphia Eagles – Here's a team undergoing a complete overhaul.  That was unimaginable just a season or two ago when the future looked so bright.  With the hiring of QB guru Nick Sirianni as head coach, it appears that inconsistent Carson Wentz will be staying in Philadelphia.  Moreover, Wentz signed a 4-year, $128 million contract which would be really cumbersome to unload – but not impossible.

The Eagles drafted Jaylen Hurts in the 2nd round last year.  Late in the season, Hurts threw for 1,061 yards in losing three of four starts as a rookie.  So, who knows?

New York Jets
– When a team goes 2-14, there are a lot of problems, not just at the QB position.  Sam Darnold had mono at the start of last season, and then things got even worse from there.  As of now, Darnold is 13-25 as an NFL starter, but he was 7-6 in 2019, which may be a sign of some potential.   that said, patience is wearing thing, and Darnold's confidence can't be high after what he went through last season.  If the Jets want to add draft picks and then select a rookie QB, trading Darnold could net them several more high picks.  But NY Jets fans – what's left of them – won't be in a wait and see mode.

Also possible: The Jets could keep Darnold, use the #2 pick on other positions, and keep on building.  Their new head coach from the 49ers is a defensive guru; the owner is back from his stint as ambassador to Ireland and will probably focus on football again, so, 2021 figures to be an interesting year for the Jets and their three fans.

Washington Football Team – The WFT went 5-1 with superman Alex Smith at QB this past year, but let's face facts here:  Smith’s leg is held together with duct tape and a staple gun.  He will also be age 37 in May.  Even with his intense competitiveness, it's highly unlikely he's ever playing 16 games in a single season again.  Washington desperately needs to develop a young quarterback.

So, where does Washington look for a QB?  As with many teams in the hunt, Deshaun Watson is the first domino in all of this.  If Carolina gets Watson, then Teddy Bridgewater could wind up hiring a moving company again and playing for Washington.

Jacksonville Jaguars
– Jaguars hired Urban Meyer as their new coach, which will be interesting, especially seeing how he has zero NFL experience.  How will he deal with losing?  If the Jaguars go 9-7 next year, fans will want to throw Meyer a parade, but Meyer might have a nervous breakdown if he loses seven games in a season.  Note that he went a stunning 187-32 as a college head coach.

According to reports, the Jaguars will likely draft Trevor Lawrence in April, then the question becomes how long before he becomes the starting QB?  Teams aren’t as patient with QB’s as they used to be.  We are getting way ahead of ourselves, but mid-October seems like a good O/U.

Indianapolis Colts – The Colts can't catch a break.  Philip Rivers retired to become a high school coach, where he will coach his two sons.  So, backup Jacoby Brissett is the Colts’ QB right now, but owner and GM Jim Irsay spoke out this week about the Colts needing a veteran presence at QB, and he probably wasn't thinking about Brissett.

Speculation had centered on Matthew Stafford, but that's apparently off the table now.  So, attention focuses to Carson Wentz.  Concerns are that Brissett is just 12-20 as a starter in the NFL, combined for the Patriots/Colts.  So, that really forces the Colts hand into making a deal someplace.

Detroit Lions – So, Matthew Stafford will turn 33 on Super Bowl Sunday; he is 74-90-1 as a starter, has played 16 games in nine of last ten seasons.  Stafford also has played 12 years in the NFL, but is 0-3 in playoff games. Detroit’s last playoff win was way back in 1991.  Now, he's gone.  

Insert Jared Goff.  This is a fascinating trade that could help both players.  Goff has an impressive record as a starter, but he's not going to have nearly as talented a supporting cast around him in Detroit as was the case in Los Angeles.  Goff, who was injured down the stretch, is going to have to develop some mental toughness to play for this team, certain to struggle for a while longer.

Houston Texans – This team is now at expansion level again.  That's how low this franchise has sunk and how many holes need to be filled.  If Deshaun Watson really wants to be traded, he needs to lay low for a while.  Reason:  So, the Texans will have a little more leverage in making a comfortable deal.  After all, they’re not just going to give him away for nothing.  Watson is the first domino in whaat could be a wild winter of quarterback movement in the NFL.  Okay, maybe the third domino after the Goff-Stafford deal.

Even with this season's disaster, Watson is a playmaker and remains 28-25 in 3+ years as a starter.  Certainly, his starting job in Houston would’ve bit a lot easier last year if they hadn’t traded their best receiver, DeAndre Hopkins after the 2019 season.

“Organizationally, just want to reiterate our commitment to Deshaun Watson. He’s had a great impact on this organization, a great impact on a lot of people, great impact on this team. We look forward to the opportunity to spend more time with him here this spring once we get started. We have zero interest in trading the player.”  That was according to Texans'’ GM Nick Caserio.  So, after all is said and done, maybe Watson ends up staying in Houston.

Note:  Some of this text was taken from Armadillo Sports, which is highly recommended for a witty take on sports news and gambling information.