Top Backup Quarterback Options for the Saints in 2020
Quarterback Drew Brees has announced that he will return for the 2020 season. With Brees back in the fold, backup Teddy Bridgewater seems almost certain to leave for a starting job elsewhere. I expect the Saints to re-sign third-string quarterback and utility weapon Taysom Hill, but will probably bring in another veteran to back up Brees.
Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill, Tom Brady, and Philip Rivers will all be on the open market but will pull in a hefty salary as starters. Here are a few intriguing options that would give New Orleans some stability behind their Hall of Fame signal caller
The 2nd overall pick in the 2015 draft (behind Jameis Winston), the former Heisman Trophy winner from Oregon has had an up and down career before being benched for Ryan Tannehill last season. Mariota has completed 63% of his passes, throwing for 13,207 yards and 76 touchdowns with 44 interceptions in a five-year career where he has won 29 of 61 starts.
He has postseason experience, leading the Titans to a road upset of the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2018 playoffs. The 26-Yr old Mariota has good mobility and above average arm strength, but has never played in an offense as dynamic as New Orleans. Like Bridgewater, Mariota would have an opportunity to resurrect his NFL career with the Saints and prove that he can be a quality NFL starter.
The 33-Yr old Daniel has already served two stints with the Saints, having backed up Brees from 2010 to ‘12 and again in 2017. He wouldn’t be a viable option as a long-term starter should Brees be sidelined for a prolonged period, but has shown that he can be an effective spot-starter during his last two years with the Chicago Bears. Daniel also has familiarity with the Saints offensive system and is a trusted sideline confidant of Brees.
Brissett was thrust into the starting role for the Indianapolis Colts last preseason because of the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck and was promptly rewarded a two-year contract. After a promising start to the 2019 season though, the Colts lost five of their last six games and Brissett struggled. The Colts are rumored to be in pursuit of one of the big name quarterbacks in free agency, making Brissett a candidate to be traded or released outright.
Originally a 3rd round draft choice by the Patriots in 2016, the 27-Yr old Brissett has flashed nice potential during his three seasons with Indianapolis. A big and mobile quarterback with a strong arm, Brissett has completed 60% of his career throws with 31 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions in 32 career starts.
The 32-Yr old Dalton has been a successful starter for much of his nine-year career with the Cincinnati Bengals, leading them to five straight playoff appearances between 2011-15. Dalton has been productive in an explosive Bengals offense, completing 62% of his career passes for 31,594 yards with 204 touchdown passes.
The rebuilding Bengals are expected to draft quarterback Joe Burrow with the 1st overall pick in April and have given Dalton permission to seek a trade. Releasing the veteran quarterback is also possible if they cannot work a deal out. While Dalton would be a candidate for several starting possibilities throughout the league, he could choose a place like New Orleans for a chance at a Super Bowl. Dalton showed last season he has plenty of quality football left, and could realistically be a bridge starter while the Saints develop a young quarterback if Brees retires after this season.
This isn’t as far-fetched as one might think. While the 27-Yr old Bridgewater played well in winning his five starts with the Saints last year, the free agent market is loaded with big names at the position and three rookie quarterbacks are expected to be immediate starters. Quarterback-needy teams such as the Colts, Bengals, Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Chargers, Carolina Panthers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will either add one high in the draft or could opt for one of the big free agent names.
Bridgewater has expressed his love for the New Orleans area and the Saints franchise. If contract offers are similar, Bridgewater could conceivably return to New Orleans as the successor to Brees rather than be a temporary starter behind a rookie quarterback. His performance with the Saints has proven that he is a capable NFL starter, but Teddy Bridgewater is just one of several talents at the quarterback position that will be on the move this offseason.