NFL free agency preview: Quarterbacks

Wednesday March 1st, 2017

This position in free agency is the reason mock drafts are (mostly) useless until after the second week in March. Some of the teams at the top of April’s draft in need of quarterbacks likely won’t still have that void on draft night. The Bears, 49ers and Browns could very well end up with Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer ... or they could take care of things in the coming weeks and end up with Tony Romo, Mike Glennon and Jimmy Garoppolo.

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Cream of the Crop: Tony Romo

No team is going to trade for Romo with his huge contract, and it’s been known for three months that he wouldn’t play for the Cowboys in 2017. So Romo’s release from Dallas is a formality at this point. He’ll be a 37-year-old quarterback with a brittle history, but at his best, Romo is easily a top-10 quarterback who can help you advance in the playoffs. He can be picky about his next (and probably final) stop, and that likely narrows the teams to Denver, Houston and Chicago. There’s always going to be an injury concern with Romo, but he looked great in his only on-field action last season.

Ideal team fit: Texans. Romo can take the short plane trip to Houston. He’ll work with a head coach who knows quarterbacks, play in a winnable division and have one of the league’s best defenses. Denver also makes plenty of sense after what Peyton Manning was able to do there.

Bargain Bin: Matt McGloin

If the former Penn State signal-caller doesn’t hurt his shoulder before the wild-card round, maybe he gets the win against Houston and drives his price up in free agency. But that shoulder injury kept him out of the game and forced rookie Connor Cook into action against Houston’s defense in the Raiders’ loss. McGloin has been a competent backup to Derek Carr, and he told the AP he wants to sign somewhere that will give him a chance to compete for the starting job. If that’s his criteria, then it eliminates about half of the teams that already have established franchise starters. With six of his seven career starts coming in his rookie 2013 season, McGloin won’t be able to fetch much money on the market.

Ideal team fit: Jets. McGloin could easily re-sign with Oakland if all else fails, but he could compete for the Jets’ job and he also makes sense in Houston if Romo doesn’t go there—Bill O’Brien coached McGloin at Penn State.

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Overpay Alert: Matt Barkley

He’s the obvious choice here because he’s been overrated his entire career. His high school coach infamously said he was a cross between Joe Montana and Tom Brady. He was supposed to be USC’s savior and next Heisman winner, then threw 15 picks and lost to UCLA his senior year. Barkley was a first-rounder, until he was drafted in the fourth round. And then last season for the Bears, he started hot against Tennessee and San Francisco before flaming out in the final four games with five touchdowns and 10 interceptions. It’s not his fault he’s been overrated his entire career, just like it’s not his fault some team will pay him more than they should for his services.

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Ideal team fit: Falcons. If Matt Schaub and/or Matt Simms follows Kyle Shanahan to San Francisco, the Falcons will need to look for some backup help to Matt Ryan. Atlanta’s new offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, helped recruit Barkley to USC and said before the 2011 draft that he’d pick Barkley over Andrew Luck.

Teams interested in the position: San Francisco, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, New York Jets.

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