The offseason is for strengthening your roster, ready to go again come September. Although it is only one spot, QB is undoubtedly the position you must have sorted. Success in the NFL has increasingly become centred about what you can do through the air and a number of current QBs and teams need to seriously consider the future of this spot on their roster at this moment in time. So, with a focus more on free agents, who is going where?
Nick Foles – I think this is going to be the easiest one to resolve so let’s start here. Foles has the option, for just the $2M, to become a free agent. I’m sure he can make that back in any future contract with his next team and I’m also sure that he wants a starting berth in 2019 after his two stints starting for Philly in Carson Went absence. His next destination? For me, Jacksonville is the obvious choice. The John DeFilippo (new OC for the Jags) link is to strong to ignore and their past history (DeFilippo was the QB coach for the Eagles SuperBowl LII run). One hitch is the Jags current lack of cap space but there are other areas on the roster where savings could be made to engineer the numbers needed. Although the Jags bombed in 2018 (4-12) the roster is stronger than that records suggests, and a strong playoff push is not beyond the realms of possibility for 2019. That should secure attracting Foles.
Teddy Bridgewater – Definite talent, remember he was a first round draft pick in 2014, and a young QB finding his way in the league until the ACL / dislocated knee injury in 2016. It was good to see him back, albeit in a strictly back-up capacity, in New Orleans during the 2018 season. He should now be looking for a starting spot and, somewhat ironically, I think his best bets are where there are injury concerns over current starting QBs. Washington is the obvious choice where they are planning to be without Alex Smith for the 2019 season. It would be a good move for both parties, a starting berth for Bridgewater and very capable cover for the Redskins until they are sure about Smith’s return. The wildcard for me here would be the Tennessee Titans. There are also ongoing injury concerns around Marcus Mariota and it would give Tennessee cover either to have a straight competitive shootout for the starting berth or give them room to consider cutting Mariota if they want to go in a different direction under center. The certainty of starting in Washington may swing this for Bridgewater.
Joe Flacco – Poor old Joe. He’s a got a SuperBowl ring you know. And yet, after half a season of turgid football on offense in Baltimore he was replaced by youth and dynamism and, well, everything he is not. Lamar Jackson got the Ravens through to the playoffs and now the starting spot is Jackson’s. The trouble is, in this new era of Jackson, Darnold, Mayfield, Mahomes, etc. no-one really wants a Flacco and certainly not for the kind of trade value Baltmore might have expected (might get a 3rd rounder for him?). The saving on the cap is beneficial (region of $18.5M) but then the team buying has to make a deal that suits them, plus you got to sell it to the fans. How about a team that might be looking to draft a QB in the first round but one that is not ready from week 1? This could lead Flacco to a Miami or a Denver. But in both cases Joe might have to accept at most one season (at worst another half a season) before being replaced again ay another young upstart.
What to do in Carolina? Cam Newton is another QB who will be resting a recuperating throughout the offseason following his recent shoulder surgery. Bringing in a capable, league proven QB as a short-term substitute, long-term understudy may be beneficial and I think it would worthwhile to look in the direction of Tyrod Taylor and the most recent struggles in Cleveland should be ignored. I doubt Taylor will secure a full-time starting spot but this situation in Carolina might suit both parties.
Let’s shore up the back up in Tampa Bay – Bruce Arians has already said that Jameis Winston is his guy, and I’ll take that at face-value. And I love Ryan Fitzpatrick. But if felt like there was a tussle last season between Winston guys and Fitzpatrick guys and for 2019 I think the Bucs need to find one way and go with it. Perhaps a more solid, less flamboyant back up would do with job. What about Ryan Tannehill from nearby Miami. He too has injury concerns and would benefit from a lighter load. It means taking a back seat but for me this could work out nicely for Tampa Bay.
There are others for whom moves might be necessary – Keenum, Bradford, Fitzpatrick, Bortles, Mc Cown etc. but in all these case I expect it to be more a case of back ups shuffling around the league.
As for the draft, which I’ll look at in more detail later, I would expect several teams to be involved – some already mentioned here – and a number will go in the first round. A strong 1-2 team at the QB position, merging youth and experience, is key for any team looking to be a success in 2019. For some sides that could mean both players will be new next season.