The QB Crystal Ball

As we approach the first key dates for offseason free agency and the 2020 Draft, a number of stories both confirmed and unconfirmed have appeared. Out of these stories, further narratives are starting to gain interest and traction. Then it is a case of pick your poison because no one really knows at this point – Brady is staying or going, Cam Newton is staying or going, Andy Dalton, Drew Brees, the list of QBs with unclear futures seems endless this off season. So, before any more wild theories are debunked by the truth let’s see how this may all pan out….

Let’s look into the QB Crystal Ball

Name: Philip Rivers

What advice do you seek? I’m looking for a fresh start after being cut by my long-term partner, the LA Chargers

Advice – Hmmm, it seems as though you have been the one trying hardest to keep this relationship going over the last 16 years. Only 2 playoff appearances in the last decade is a poor return, and now. at the age of 38, the Chargers have decided to part company with you.

This may be a blessing in disguise. It is clear that you feel there is at least one good season left and you have moved your family back to Florida and although this does not necessarily point to where the next team may be based there are candidates ‘way out east’. The first, and possibly most attractive, are the Indianapolis Colts. A solid o-line, good running game and well-built roster and management through Chris Ballard are all plus points. There is good history with Frank Reich (Chargers QB Coach and OC with Rivers between 2013-2015. Throw in that the Colts had 10-dome games next year and the Colts is a nice place for a swan song. It would be an upgrade on Jacoby Brissett and could allow Indianapolis to draft a QB 2nd round to sit behind you for 1-2 years.

Other destinations have been mentioned – the Bucs and Panthers in particular. The Bucs have the targets at WR but does Bruce Arians really replace one youthful gunslinger for a veteran equivalent? The Panthers feel like a franchise in complete reboot mode and you may want a franchise with a better chance of a dart at the playoffs. The Colts feel like the best fit here.

Name: Tom Brady

What advice do you seek? After many successful years with my long-term partner it feels like we are drifting apart and maybe I should look elsewhere?

Advice: Hmmm, the 2019 season was the lowest point for you in the last 4 years. Lowest yards per attempt, lowest % completion rate, lowest QB rating. It is not all on you though. There is obvious frustration with the pieces around you and this was evident throughout the season. Gronk has gone. Edelman’s skills are also declining. The Patriots mis-fired in the 2019 draft at WR. And yet. The aura is still there. Rumours of New England still willing to offer $30M a year circle, as does one of the Las Vegas Raiders seeking to offer a 2-year deal out in the desert.

This one feels so big it is almost impossible to get a read on it. Usually the New England Patriots move on from ageing veterans rather than cling on hoping for a late renaissance. But this is Tom Brady we are talking about. Even Bill Belichick may accept to roll the dice one more time and it looks as though Josh McDaniels will remain the OC next season. Familiarity with the system may go a long way. However, the Raiders could be a tempting prospect. Through Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden, the Raiders are headed in the right direction. With another 2 first round draft picks this year the Raiders could supply greater support on offense.

The Chargers have also been mooted but would they swap one veteran QB for another? They do need a ‘name’ at QB to help draw in some semblance of a home crowd but their roster is not on the same upward curve as the Raiders. It does look like Derek Carr could be the odd one out here but Brady to the Raiders is too good to ignore. Oh and the Raiders play the Patriots next year too….

Name: Cam Newton

What advice do you seek? After a difficult time with injuries I don’t think I’m wanted anymore.

Advice: Hmmm, you are entering the final year of the current contract and carry a substantial cap hit for the Panthers at around $19M. And you are coming off a complete write off of a 2019 season. First a torn rotator cuff then a Lisfranc injury have put fitness and mobility front and centre. The Panthers, and owner David Tepper, are in limbo waiting to see proof of your fitness. Even if you are able to prove your fitness the Panthers may seek to keep you around but probably only for the next year.

Should the Panthers seek to trade where could you end up? You are a QB with star power, so this means looking for a market which needs its stars. Step forward the LA Chargers. They are moving on from a QB with a distinct lack of mobility so if you can prove you are still an all-action hero it could be the ideal switch. Think of the boost to ticket sales, something the Chargers need to do. Yes the Chargers could draft a QB this year but, sat at #6 with little to offer in additional picks, they may miss out. Go west Cam, go west.

Name: Sean Payton

What advice do you seek? I’ve got 3 QBs and I’m not sure which ones to keep.

Advice: Hmmm, the QB room is stacked with talent in New Orleans: Drew Brees, Taysom Hill and Teddy Bridgewater. However, there are decisions to make around all 3 this offseason after another year of heartbreak and underperformance in the playoffs. Drew Brees is 41 years old and currently mulling over whether to spin the wheel one more time with you and the Saints. For Brees it is New Orleans or retirement. It was another good season for Brees and you have proved you can adapt playcalling to suit the talents of the QBs. There is a ‘but’ coming.

In the playoff loss to the Vikings the ‘X’ factor was not Drew Brees, but Taysom Hill. He is your ‘swiss-army knife’ able to run, throw, catch, block punts, anything and everything. Had he been on the field for more snaps in the playoff loss the Saints may well have won through. Hill has been with New Orleans for 3 seasons now and for the last 2 he has appeared in every game taking a small percentage of the snaps. He has been quoted recently as seeing himself as a franchise QB. There is a relatively small sample size at present but enough that New Orleans is considering putting him as a restricted free agent, possibly with a 1st round price tag attached in order to flush out any interest.

It is doubtful that another team will gamble on Hill as their starter at this point in time. What is more likely is that the Brees/Hill combination could start to share out offensive snaps to a greater degree. With your innovative and ever-evolving playacting that could just turn out to be the best way forward for the Saints to greater success next year. The odd man out is likely to be Bridgewater but that may be no bad thing for him. He started 5 straight games when Brees was injured last season and he took care of the ball. Bridgewater could do a nice job elsewhere in the league and would be another candidate for the Chargers if they decided to steer clear of the headlines and go for an efficient if unspectacular new starting QB.

The quick-fire round!

Marcus Mariota – find a team willing to take you on as a backup in a Taysom Hill style role.
Bruce Arians – stick with Jameis Winston. You’ve just got his eyes fixed, you may as well see if that was the problem all along! Short-term 2 or 3 year prove it deal.
Jerry Jones – for pity’s sake just sign Dak to a new contract, what else you gonna do? Pay the man.
Ryan Pace – you can’t leave Trubisky with no-one pushing him to be better in that QB room. Go get Andy Dalton from the Bengals and try to light a fire under Mitch.
Ryan Tannehill – take the new contract offer which will come from the Titans, but hey don’t get greedy, you were good but it is still a small sample size.
Bill Belichick – yes you are right to let Brady go, painful though that is you knew the day would come. Now is the time for a safe, efficient, interim leader and Teddy Bridgewater could be the guy.
Derek Carr – don’t trust anything that comes out of Jon Gruden’s mouth. Keep an open mind, it is only a matter of time before Gruden’s head gets turned.

All, any or none of this could happen in the next month. Should be a lot of fun finding out!

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