The Juiciest 2020 Free Agent Quarterback Landing Spots

This offseason free agent market involves some of the bigger names at the quarterback position than we’ve seen in quite some time. So there’s quality, but there’s also quantity. Eight QBs who started NFL games last year are on this Spring’s market, and upwards of half a dozen 2019 starters are expected to either be traded or candidates for roster cuts. This sort of offseason movement is really unprecedented in the NFL, unlike basketball or baseball where player movement is a regular — and expected — occurrence during the off months. Now, it’s true, NFL players have used the power they have in the CBA to switch teams when they’re disgruntled or sit out portions of the regular season, usually when they are unhappy with their contract situation and feel the team hasn’t treated them appropriately.  But, typically, the quarterback position is not one where a terrible amount of this happens. Other than the rare Eli Manning refusing to go to the Chargers on Draft Day or John Elway making sure he never played a down for the Colts, quarterbacks don’t often get to free agency — well, good ones don’t. And great ones can only dream.

But this offseason brings about a different feeling with the position. A dozen or so QBs will either be hitting the market as free agents or they will be on the chopping block of sorts with their current teams — all for various different reasons. And what makes this fun is that many are going to move. That’s the thing — good QBs often never see free agency because their teams are smart enough to lock them up before it ever happens. Not this year, though — but this year is complicated. Tom Brady isn’t hitting the free agency market for the first time in his 20 year career because the Patriots don’t think he’s good. There are other factors — obviously. Phllip Rivers — same thing. The Chargers didn’t;t all of a sudden think Rivers was terrible and unable to lead that team, whose roster is chalk full of talent. It was just time to go in a another direction. Go on down the list of QB free agents and you’ll see nothing is cut and dry — with each one, there are a specific set of unusual circumstances that have led the player and the team to the spot we’re in today.

Let’s lay some ground rules — and it’s simple: players cannot return to their current teams. So if this is supposed to be fun, let’s make it fun. Let’s look at the tastiest, the juiciest landing spots for all the top quarterback free agents, as well as some of the QBs who’s names are being bandied about in trade talks and roster cut-downs.

Tom Brady

You talk to 5 people and they’ll give you 5 different teams where Brady ends up playing next year. But if we’re talking juicy, what’s juicier than TB12 taking the helm of the Indianapolis Colts in the House That Peyton Built? It’s a really nice team with a great offensive line, solid head coach, and a ton of cash to spend on getting Bray the weapons he so dearly covets. So this one is juicy, but also realistic. Factor in the decade-plus of Pats-Colts rivalry, Deflategate, and Josh McDaniels spurning Jim Irsay to remain in Foxboro and this couldn’t be a tastier treat.

Drew Brees

I know Brees has announced he’s not only returning for the 2020 season, but he wants to do so in New Orleans. But in the spirit of our game, imagine the Saints say, “Thanks, but we’ll go elsewhere.” How about Brees going to the team that he was a good medical evaluation away from signing with when he left San Diego oh so long ago? The Miami Dolphins. Talk about tying up some loose ends. But this could be about 15 years too late for Fins fans.

Philip Rivers

Still hard to believe Rivers won’t end he career with the Chargers. But I’m all in on a Rivers-Arians tag team in Tampa Bay. I know, I know — this may not fit as far as the offense Bruce Arians likes to run; but tell me Rivers chucking it around to those wise receivers wouldn’t be fun to see? And can Bruce and Phil just plan on tandem press conferences each week?

Dak Prescott

No one believes Dak goes anywhere, but technically he’s a free agent so he’s included here. It’s not spicy, but you know what — I’d like to see Dak head to Carolina with Matt Rhule and Joe Brady and the weapons that the Panthers have at WR. He’d also have Christian McCaffrey so that’s a not a bad duo in the backfield.

Ryan Tannehill

What a breakout season for a guy most of us had given up on. This one was tough — juicy and Ryan Tannehill don’t really go together, you know? But if any team was to fall in love with a QB who proved himself for less than a full season of work and pay him $25 to $30 million, tell me it wouldn’t be Jacksonville. It’d be Nick Foles all over again.

Jameis Winston

The most fun spot for Jameis to end up might be back in Tampa — let’s follow up that 30/30 season with an encore. But we’ve seen that show so let’s spread the Winston wealth around. Jon Gruden gushed over Jameis in his Gruden QB Camp (or whatever they called his little show on ESPN). Now, it’s time for the head coach to put his money where his mouth was. A Jameis-Gruden partnership has all the making of a complete disaster — on the field and off. And remember, the backdrop here is Vegas. Vegas!! This script writes itself.

Marcus Mariota

This is easy. Head west and get with a coach who sees the value in Mariota’s ability to be mobile. The Chargers need a new QB and head coach Anthony Lynn likes mobile quarterbacks — Tyrod Taylor’s already in L.A. on the roster and when Lynn was in Buffalo he enjoyed a QB who could move around and run the ball.

Teddy Bridgewater

I’m going to ignore the report earlier in the week that Teddy is going to command $30 million a season in his next deal. Come on. I’m as big a fan of Bridgewater’s, and what he did to keep the Saints afloat while Brees was hurt was nothing short of astonishing. But $30 mil? Anyway, I’m opening my arms (not my checkbook) to Teddy as he heads to Foxboro. Get him on the cheap, pair him with McDaniels, and Bill Belichick gets to have some fun with a guy that his friend Sean Payton got a ton out of.

The rest of the players listed below are not free agents, but their names have come up as players who could be on the move this offseason.

Andy Dalton

Assuming Joe Burrow in the pick at one and that he does in fact decide to not force a trade to land elsewhere, Dalton could certainly be on the move. And I think if Bill Belichick could win with Andy Dalton as his QB, a lot of people might start wondering if it was more Belichick-Brady than Brady-Belichick.

Cam Newton

Is there a particular city you just feel like Cam would be at home in? Any guesses? Dude’s a lover of fashion, lives the Hollywood lifestyle, enjoys the attention and the spotlight. If this isn’t L.A. with the Chargers, I should stop playing this game right now. Match made in heaven.

Derek Carr

The Gruden-Carr relationship is tenuous at best. I’d love to see Carr head to New Orleans and let Sean Payton work his magic with him. It’d be funny — goes to New Orleans and rejuvenates his career, but the great quarterback whisperer Gruden had to jettison him.

Matthew Stafford

Again, here’s another one where one report emerges that insinuates the Lions want to move on from Stafford, and it makes no sense financially — yet if they choose to take Tua at 3 in April’s draft, then maybe a trade should be considered. So, I thought Denver because John Elway loves big-armed quarterbacks and no one has any clue as to how Elway really feels about his current QB situation in Denver. But, then, I realized if Stafford’s ever leaving Detroit, he’s leaving the D for Big D. Home sweet home for Stafford in Jerry’s World.


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“Slightly Too Early” NFL 2016 Bold Predictions: AFC West

With NFL Training Camps opening, it seems appropriate that our sport-oriented minds start making room for football. And albeit a plethora of things could change between July and the start of the regular season in September, it’s still fun to project what may happen this year for teams and players. Over the next few weeks, I will take each division at a time and point to one prediction I have for each team. Let’s start out west where the defending champions reside: the AFC West.

 

Denver Broncos

No Denver QB, RB, or WR will rank in top 10 at their respective position in the major statistical 635636018155898264-AP-Broncos-Rams-Football-MOJcategories.

There were many times last season that this team did not appear to be championship-caliber: unproven quarterback, question marks and injuries plaguing the backfield, rumors surrounding the hall-of-fame veteran QB, who was benched. But in the end and when it mattered most, the Bronco offense was efficient and the defense stellar.

This season features a different quarterback at the helm in journeyman Mark Sanchez or rookie first round pick Paxton Lynch. While the defense should remain formidable, the changes on offense could serve to hamper Denver’s chances at the playoffs, let alone repeating as conference and Super Bowl champions.

Regardless of who head coach Gary Kubiak settles on at QB, the ramifications will have an impact on the team’s ability to run the football and convert explosive pass plays. Expect a down year from Pro Bowl wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, and with a quarterback starting who has a lot to prove, defenses are likely to spend a lot of their time focusing in on the Denver running game.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

hi-res-186038894-running-back-jamaal-charles-of-the-kansas-city-chiefs_crop_exactJamaal Charles’s 2015 torn ACL has been and will be a blessing in disguise.

When All-Pro RB Jamaal Charles suffered his second torn ACL in 5 years last season, who would have thought the Chiefs would still make the playoffs and that they would be in  such a good position this season with their running backs? Charles’s injury opened the door for Spencer Ware and Charcanderick West to prove themselves as viable options out of the backfield. This year, expect fewer touches for Charles — saving his legs for what the Chiefs hope is a playoff run into January — and more carries for Ware and West.

With this solid RBBC and a very staunch defense, the Chiefs’ Super Bowl hopes may rest squarely on the shoulders of Alex Smith and his receiving corps.

 

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders will win the AFC West.

All four teams in this division have the feel of 7 to 9 wins. No team currently stands without big question marks NFL: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefssomewhere on their roster. So with that said, the Raiders look like the team that might have the highest ceiling. A young QB entering his 3rd season as a starter, who has put up some of the best numbers in his first 2 years in the league of any quarterback ever; a solid run game; young, explosive wide receivers; and a defense built around speed and rushing the QB.

If Derek Carr continues to progress as he has in his early career, the Oakland offense should be highly potent. And head coach Jack Del Rio has put together a defense that is physical, ball-hawking, and hell-bent on getting to the quarterback, led by third year DE Khalil Mack. It might be time to welcome the Raiders back to the playoffs this January.

 

San Diego Chargers

Chargers will double their win total from 2015.

Evidence, collected by people way smarter than me, shows the San Diego Chargers were not quite as bad as their 4-12 record indicated last season. Mike McCoy’s team blew 4 halftime leads and posted a 3-8 record in games decided iby one score. The law of averages usually straightens things out — either the Chargers’ 2015 season was an anomaly and they suffered a great deal of bad luck or they are just trending in a downward direction. With Phillip Rivers manning the ship and playmakers Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen healthy, San Diego looks more like a team who is looking to rebound in 2016.

The Chargers made upgrades to a defense that struggled immensely last year. Not to mention, they are lucky to play in a division where no team appears to be head and shoulders above the rest.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

 

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The Fantasy 3: Three “Must Haves” As Your Draft Approaches

Here are 3 fantasy “must haves” in my opinion this season. All three of these guys are affordable, you won’t need to reach on them, and they will provide you with valuable point production.

A.J. Green

The Bengal All-Pro wideout had a less than impressive season in 2015. But Green still managed nearly 1300 yards and 10 touchdowns. Tight End Tyler Eifert had an exceptional year in 2015 – taking some receptions and TDs away 635844166052926339-1129BengalsRamsSG-07from Green. This year the Bengals’ offense will be without wide receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, which may give Green (and Eifert for that matter) more looks from Andy Dalton.

Despite what some would call a down year in ’15, Green was still targeted on over 27% of Dalton’s passes; and with Eifert, combined for over 70% of Bengals’ receiving touchdowns.

The biggest factor in determining Green’s success or not this season may be predicated on the success of his quarterback. Dalton’s 25 touchdowns and 7 interceptions last season came in an injury-shortened year that saw the ex-TCU passer play in only 13 games. Arguably, 2015 was Dalton’s most efficient season at the helm of the Cincinnati offense. If his growth continues, Green may be primed for a return to elite fantasy receiver status.

Ryan Mathews

With the departure of DeMarco Murray to Tennessee, the Philadelphia backfield is Mathews’s to lose. If the former Charger can’t grab hold of the majority of the workload this season, you might want to consider the fact that Mathews may never be able to be the number one guy.

Injuries have plagued the young back’s career since his days in San Diego, which is a legitimate concern for ownersRyan Mathews, Colin Jones hoping Mathews takes ownership of the Eagles’ backfield. This may be Mathews’s best opportunity to put up solid fantasy numbers as new head coach Doug Pederson brings his running back-heavy brand of offense to the City of Brotherly Love. The former Kansas City offensive coordinator had a hand in Jamaal Charles’s rise to stardom, as one of the NFL’s premier running backs over the last few seasons. And last season was, perhaps, the most impressive display of coaching by Pederson, when Charles went down with a season-ending injury and the Chiefs shifted their reliance to unproven RBs Charcanderick West and Spencer Ware.

To be clear, I would not reach on Mathews in any round earlier than 6. But if he’s available in the 6th or 7th rounds, he’d be a good value grab – especially for owners who need a 3rd RB on their roster at this point in the draft.

Derek Carr

If I told you to guess the top 2 quarterbacks to throw the most touchdowns in their first two NFL seasons, you’d NFL: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefsprobably guess Dan Marino, but I’m sure you would guess about 100 other QBs (maybe more) before you got to Derek Carr. But Carr’s first two seasons have been spectacular as far as TD production. Add the fact that Amari Cooper is now established and has a full year under his belt, Carr may be in store for his best season yet.

In addition to Cooper, Oakland has managed to put together a well-rounded offense to compliment Carr – Michael Crabtree at WR and Latavius Murray in the backfield. Not to mention head coach Jack Del Rio’s personality appears to have rubbed off on his mean-spirted, nasty defense. With the question marks that hang over the offenses in the AFC West, the Raider defense should wreak havoc and provide Carr and the electric offense more opportunities to put points on the board.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed — @brian22goodwin.

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