Piece by Griff
With free agency fast approaching I thought I’d take a look around the league and try to decipher the difficult QB market in order to predict each team’s starter for the first game of next season. For a little more depth I’ve tried to pick out the back up QB too. Players locked-in to a team are in GREEN, those who seem likely to be part of the squad in some capacity are in ORANGE and those who are only there through my flights of fancy are in RED. These selections a clearly subject to huge changes what with injuries, trades, draft-day deals etc all yet to happen, so with that in mind I give you… The NFC
*Kindly note that since writing part one of this article, The AFC, there have been several trades and free agency signings.
Philadelphia Eagles: The reigning Super Bowl champions have a conundrum to face in the coming weeks and months, namely, will Carson Wentz be back for the start of the new season, and if so, what should become of Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles? They are bound to receive some interest for the best back up since Jeff Hoestetler, and there is a good chance he’ll see the writing on the wall and request a move. However, Wentzs’ injury occurred late in the season and the chances are that he’ll barely be back to fitness when the new campaign starts. For me Foles begins the year under centre as the Wentz rehab continues and once the Eagles are satisfied that their young star is fully functional then Foles can move on if he & the Eagles so desires. The team likes their third stringer Nate Sudfield, so I suspect he features on the roster too.
Starter: Foles Back up: Sudfield (Until Wentz is able)
Dallas Cowboys: Dak had a down-ish year, but many second year QBs do. He also had to lead a team which had mass uncertainty swirling around its true star player for much of the year. This doubtless proved a distraction for all, but now it has been resolved it feels logical to expect an uptick in production for all those on offense. I have zero concerns regarding Prescotts potential, he will be out there for play one on day one. Cooper Rush was a popular figure in the Cowboys building last season, so he should be back as no. 2. Ah, stability.
Starter: Prescott Back up: Rush
Washington Redskins: I think the Redskins could be a surprise mover in the draft to pick up a talent that could be moulded into the next Kirk Cousins. I doubt they’ll shake things up too much though after what transpired with RG3. They’ll probably wait until rounds 2 or 3 to snaffle up a prospect. It is apparent that the real K.C is off to pastures new with either the Broncos or Vikings seemingly the favourites to land him. Alex Smith is set to move across from the Chiefs as his immediate replacement but that doesn’t look like a long-term plan. Colt McCoy should remain as the ultimate back up.
Stater: Smith Back up: McCoy
New York Giants: Oh look, Eli is back! The last hurrah starts here. The question is, will it be Darnold, Rosen, Allen or Mayfield taken at the number two spot in the draft? Whoever is chosen will get a shot at unseating the former Super Bowl MVP and the right to succeed him in the long term. Each player has good qualities but requires some work. For me it’s Darnold, he looks the most coachable, someone who’d respond well to holding on to a clip board whilst absorbing all there is too know from a man of Elis’ experience. The fans might want to see what he has to offer early on, but they shouldn’t be so keen to wave goodbye to a legend, even if he is in steep decline, you just never know if the next QB will be the real deal…
Starter: Manning Backup: Darnold
Minnesota Vikings: With all the three of their star QBs set to hit Free Agency it could be all change for the Vikings. Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum will all have suitors on the open market and could all be starters when the new season gets underway. If that is the case then It seems likely that top Free Agent QB Kirk Cousins will fore-go some of the huge money deals being thrown his way for a legit shot at success with the no.1 defense and a receiving unit that makes most others look weak. Kyle Sloter was kept on the roster last year even though he was QB4 which makes me think the team really like him, so I expect he’ll get a shot at moving up the depth chart.
Starter: Cousins, Back up: Sloter
Chicago Bears: The Bears will ride second year pro Mitch Trubisky for 2018, despite a mixed first year there are reasons to be confident that he can be their long-term option under centre. Matt Glennon has been cut already so Mark Sanchez seems likely to serve as no.2 as he is the only experienced QB left on the roster and he has a rep as a great player-coach which is ideal for someone like Trubisky.
Starter: Trubisky, Back up: Sanchez
Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers will be fit for the start of the season so no controversy there, the former league MVP will most likely pick up where he left off and start throwing TD passes like he’s never been away. The team just acquired DeShone Kizer from the Browns in exchange for Damarious Randall and a swap of 4th and 5th round picks. Kizer has a lot of developing to do but moving on from the Browns is the right way to do it. This could be the end of Brett Hundley in Green Bay, he did seem a little under-cooked when thrown in last year. Maybe he and Kizer battle for the second spot, maybe he gets cut, time will tell.
Starter: Rodgers, Back up: Kizer
Detroit Lions: When will you admit that Matt Stafford is underrated? He’ll be back to guide the team again, and if the defence gets its act together he may get an easier ride. I guess it would be nice to not have to play from behind every week… Jake Ruddock seems set to stay as no.2. The big-armed prospect has impressed the staff throughout his time in Detroit and there seems no need to rock the boat.
Starter: Stafford, Back up: Ruddock
New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees hasn’t signed his new deal yet, but everyone seems very relaxed about it. He’ll be there at the start of the season and probably for a few years to come. The backup situation is in flux but whilst I see a draft pick being spent on a prospect it’ll be an experienced guy backing up the great Brees, Matt Moore, who’ll be a free agent from the Dolphins gets my nod.
Starter: Brees, Back Up: Moore
Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan will begin his tenth season in Atlanta looking to get his 2016 form back. Last year was good but 2016 was great. The backup slot has recently been filled by Matt Schaub but truthfully, he isn’t good enough. Im looking toward Blaine Gabbert or a similar experienced play to fill the position. The Falcons will want to get the offense back up to its high-powered best, so Ryan needs to be allowed to make the throws that we now know he is capable of.
Starter: Ryan, Back Up: Gabbert
Carolina Panthers: Newton threw for the 2nd least yards of his career, averaged his fewest yards per game and had the highest interception percentage of his career. Still, on his day he is a top 10 QB and the Panthers will rightly role into 2018 expecting him to regain some form and consistency that he has previously shown. Derek Anderson is pending Free Agent but his performances when called upon over the last few seasons should ensure that he returns for at least another year.
Starter: Newton, Back up: Anderson
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Woah, Winston was BAD last year, there is no mistaking that. 19 TDS and 11 picks in 13 games is not going to win this division ever. He also appears to have a bit of an attitude issues and riles easily. That said, he has the physical talents to lead the team to success, he just has to look after the ball, and his temper, better. Ryan Fitzpatrick (who I thought might be off to the Titans and replaced by Ryan Griffin) has just resigned to back up Jamies again. He showed well in relief last year and at times he outplayed the starter. Ryan Griffin should be kept on at no.3 as he appears to be very talented but a little injury prone.
Starter: Winston, Back up: Fitzpatrick
L.A Rams: No changes expected here, two good, young QBs allied to a good, young coach… why mess with what worked so well last season? Simple.
Starter: Goff, Back up: Mannion
Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson accounted for all but one of the Seahawks TDs in 2017…ALL BUT ONE! His phenomenal performances on a declining team shouldnt be taken lightly. He was everything that was good about the ‘Hawks. If he makes it through 2018 with similar levels of play and no injuries, I’ll be amazed. Trevone Boykin and Austin Davis shared backup duties last year and it’ll likely be the same again this time around. There a chance of a late round draft pick coming onboard too but this team has so many holes that picking up a future star when the team is built around Wilson for years to come seems unlikely.
Starter: Wilson, Back up: Davis
Arizona Cardinals: Tell me you know what the cards are planning at QB and I’ll call you a liar. I thought they’d peruse Tyrod Taylor but he’s signing for the Browns, they want Kirk Cousins, but I can’t see why he’d chose them over anyone else, and the best may have been Alex Smith who is set to be a Redskin. That leaves us clutching at straws… I’ll say McCarron joins them as I believe he’s too talented to be a career backup and he’s likely willing to sign for whoever offers him starts. The Cards are one of my picks to try and trade up in the draft (possible to 5) and take their next QB. I’ll place Josh Rosen with them for now as he may be the best of the remaining bunch once the top 4 have taken their choices.
Starter: McCarron, Back Up: Rosen
San Francisco 49ers: From a team with no QBs to a team with two talented youngsters. This is the easiest of just about anyone in the NFC, Jimmy G is yet to taste defeat and C.J. Beathard performed admirably in a bad situation. Both will be back with a rapidly improving team around them.
Starter: Garoppalo, Back up: Beathard