We’re talking about starting quarterbacks at an unusually high volume for this point in the offseason, whether it’s because a quarterback might still be traded, won’t be traded, makes us angry because others don’t believe in him, or still has yet to agree to what promises to be the largest deal in NFL history.
With that, it seems like a good time to set the table ahead of the NFL draft and examine what, exactly, teams have on their rosters right now. Who has the best quarterback situation in the NFL, taking into consideration not just starting talent but cost, health, backup quality and other contributing factors? Who has the worst? With one more major improvement opportunity about a month away (and a few quality stragglers on the free-agent market) here’s the state of play on March 26, 2019:
1. New England Patriots
Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Danny Etling
The best quarterback of all time for less money per year than Andy Dalton. Still can’t beat it, even if he’s 41.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, E.J. Manuel, Chase Litton
Maybe the most promising young quarterback we’ve seen since Andrew Luck, for about half the price of Teddy Bridgewater. Plus, a stockpile of serviceable veterans.
3. New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill
Tempted to put them second given the versatility Hill brings here. The Saints wanted Bridgewater back in the fold, and they were smart to do so.
4. Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers, DeShone Kizer, Tim Boyle
The Packers are playing it fast and loose at the backup spot, which hurts them here. Don’t be surprised to see a mid-round pick spent on a potential long-term backup option.
5. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett, Phillip Walker
Wanted to list them higher. Brissett could start for a handful of NFL teams right now, and if Luck continues progressing, that sub-$25 million a year deal looks like a bargain.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Joshua Dobbs, Brogan Roback
Razor-thin margin here between the Colts and Steelers. For me it comes down to age of the starter and backup quality. Who would you be more confident entrusting an offense to in a meaningful late-season game—Brissett or Rudolph/Dobbs?
7. Los Angeles Chargers
Philip Rivers, Tyrod Taylor, Cardale Jones
The addition of Taylor gives them a solid backup who can win games.
8. Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson, Paxton Lynch
The Seahawks need more help for Russell Wilson. Could draft relief be on the way?
9. Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Kurt Benkert
Schaub provides a comfort factor for Ryan, but not much more. What would they look like without Ryan?
10. Los Angeles Rams
Jared Goff, Blake Bortles, Brandon Allen
The Rams make an upgrade at backup. Goff is coming off a 32 touchdown, 12 interception season and a Super Bowl run. He's also still on his rookie deal.
11. Cleveland Browns
Baker Mayfield, Drew Stanton
Mayfield showed enough poise and maturity his rookie year to allow the Browns to load up on talent and make a legitimate playoff push.
12. Philadelphia Eagles
Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld
A bit of a drop from past years. The Eagles have had one of the best quarterback situations for each of the last three seasons. Doug Pederson likes Nate Sudfeld, but will they try to upgrade?
13. Houston Texans
Deshaun Watson, A.J. McCarron, Joe Webb
Texans also grabbed quickly on the backup market. While the room doesn’t exactly mirror Watson’s skill set, the hope is that he’s running less in 2019 anyway.
14. Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Mike White
Right now, at this moment, Prescott costs $2.1 million. That’s insane—and so will be his next contract. Until then, affordability and consistency have Dallas in a good spot.
15. Oakland Raiders
Derek Carr, Mike Glennon, Nate Peterman
Would be surprised if Carr doesn’t have a major bounce-back season. His contract isn’t egregious, especially after 2019. They also nabbed a veteran backup in Glennon and could do some damage in the draft.
16. Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton, Taylor Heinicke, Kyle Allen
This backup situation is scary, and so too is Newton coming off shoulder surgery.
17. San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens, C.J. Beathard
Some late-game heroics from Mullens last year show how surprisingly deep this room is (relative to some other teams around the league). Despite Garoppolo coming off an ACL, there’s a lot to like about this depth chart.
18. Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III
They had to bring back RGIII. Love the pairing and the fact that the Ravens are going all in on what their talent does best.
19. Detroit Lions
Matt Stafford, Connor Cook
Stafford is better than Lamar Jackson, and more accomplished than Jimmy Garoppolo and David Carr—all of this is true. However, last season was a major drop-off, Cook doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, and the Lions are installing a new offense. Lots to be hesitant about with the fourth-highest paid quarterback in the game.
20. New York Jets
Sam Darnold, Trevor Siemian, Davis Webb
While the Jets will be without excellent backup Josh McCown, Adam Gase was smart to go after a QB with some starting experience. Darnold is in position to progress in 2019.
21. Minnesota Vikings
Kirk Cousins, Kyle Sloter
Sloter wants the job and it seems like he’ll get a chance. But don’t be surprised if the Vikings play it safe and take a peek at the veteran market post-draft.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars
Nick Foles, Cody Kessler, Tanner Lee, Alex McGough
This was the hardest team to place. They have a Super Bowl MVP for less than the price of Joe Flacco, and Kessler is … fine. That being said, so many variables make this a tough call.
23. New York Giants
Eli Manning, Kyle Lauletta, Alex Tanney
After all the smoke clears, something tells me Manning will validate some of the offseason moves made by general manager Dave Gettleman. The Giants can also take a massive leap on this list by drafting a potential successor.
24. Tennessee Titans
Marcus Mariota, Ryan Tannehill,
I thought the signing of a reduced-price Tannehill was wise. The Titans get some injury insurance, and Mariota gets someone to push him heading into the most important season of his professional life (and a contract year).
25. Chicago Bears
Mitch Trubisky, Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray
Trubisky made the leap under Matt Nagy last year but now needs to become scheme-proof. Chase Daniel is as solid as they come in the No. 2 spot.
26. Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen, Derek Anderson, Matt Barkley
Another team I’d like to rank higher, simply because of their investment behind the second-year Allen.
27. Denver Broncos
Joe Flacco, Kevin Hogan, Garrett Grayson
This feels like a team primed to make a jump post-draft.
28. Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton, Jeff Driskel, Brad Kaaya
Not much behind Dalton, and while Dalton is wildly affordable compared to similar players with similar credentials, there hasn’t been much to get excited about of late.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston, Joe Callahan, Ryan Griffin
A reclamation project for Bruce Arians. Who knows what could happen? Either way, there is no one pushing Winston right now, and no safety net should his play spiral in 2019.
30. Arizona Cardinals
Josh Rosen, Brett Hundley, Chad Kanoff
It’s bad if only because the team won’t commit to Rosen right now. Let’s check back after seeing Kyler Murray in the preseason.
Colt McCoy, Case Keenum
Not really team’s fault here, after losing Alex Smith to a horrific leg injury. If Smith were healthy, this would be a sturdy, middle-of-the-pack quarterback room.
32. Miami Dolphins
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jake Rudock, Luke Falk
Bad intentionally, but in a lovable way. Fitzpatrick is a blast to watch, he costs about as much as Tyrod Taylor and is wonderful in the locker room. The perfect bridge to Miami’s next era.
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