Will Jay Cutler stay in Chicago? What about Colin Kaepernick? Robert Griffin III? Kirk Cousins? Alex Smith? Geno Smith? E.J. Manuel? Johnny Manziel? Peyton Manning? There are plenty of quarterback questions heading into the rest of this season, into the offseason, as well as who will be starting where in 2016. Why is this important to talk about now? Let’s dive in!
This impacts fantasy football. We are halfway through the 2015 NFL season and questions loom about quarterback situations for multiple teams. Is your team’s starting quarterback staying for 2016? Is your team looking to move on from this year and start fresh at quarterback next year? Will your team draft its franchise quarterback or give a veteran another shot? Should I trade a certain quarterback now for one that will have a better situation next year? What if one of these quarterbacks is just in a bad scheme fit, and if moved to a different one, would that change their production? These questions will be answered below as I predict and examine each team’s current quarterback situation and the possible changes heading into next season.
Let’s start with the a quick chart of current quarterbacks that are going nowhere for 2016 and staying put with their current NFL Franchise in alphabetical order by city:
- Arizona Cardinals – Carson Palmer
- Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan
- Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco
- Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton
- Cincinnati Bengals – Andy Dalton
- Dallas Cowboys – Tony Romo
- Detroit Lions – Matthew Stafford
- Green Bay Packers – Aaron Rodgers
- Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles
- Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill
- Minnesota Vikings – Teddy Bridgewater
- New England Patriots – Tom Brady
- New York Giants – Eli Manning
- Oakland Raiders – Derek Carr
- Pittsburgh Steelers – Ben Roethlisberger
- San Diego Chargers – Philip Rivers
- Seattle Seahawks – Russell Wilson
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jameis Winston
- Tennessee Titans – Marcus Mariota
As you can see above, 20 teams are locked into their starters for 2016, which leaves 12 teams with at least some uncertainty for next season.
Here are those 12 teams:
Group 1: More Certainty than Uncertainty
1) Denver Broncos – Will Peyton Manning retire? Brock Osweiler is waiting in the wings.
3) New Orleans Saints – The Saints are reworking the roster, is coach Sean Payton gone? How about Drew Brees with him?
Group 2: A lot of Money invested, should they “Pull the Plug”?
4) San Francisco 49ers – Releasing Colin Kaepernick would cost $7 million in dead cap space for 2016. Is he still their guy?
5) Kansas City Chiefs – Releasing Alex Smith would cost $24 million in dead cap space for 2016. Is he worth that kind of salary cap hit?
6) Chicago Bears – Releasing Jay Cutler would cost $13 million in dead cap space for 2016. Are the Bears ready for total rebuild mode?
7) St. Louis Rams – Nick Foles is an above-average quarterback when he plays his best, which is not as often as you would like. It would cost $3.75 million in dead cap space for 2016 to release Foles. Is he their future?
Group 3: High Draft Pick or Veteran
8) New York Jets – Stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick? Pick up a new veteran? Draft pick?
9) Philadelphia Eagles – Re-sign Sam Bradford? New veteran? Draft pick? Is Coach Chip Kelly staying?
10) Cleveland Browns – Stick with Josh McCown? Go with Johnny Manziel? New veteran? Draft pick?
11) Houston Texans – Stick with Brian Hoyer? High draft pick?
12) Washington – Stick with Kirk Cousins? Is coach Jay Gruden Staying? New veteran? Draft pick?
How is the Quarterback Class of 2016?
The first thing that general managers will do when evaluating their quarterback situation is to decide between three options:
Option A) Is there a veteran out there who will do a better job and lead this franchise more efficiently than the one I have currently?
Option B) Do I need to cut the veteran, take my losses, and move on with a draft pick in the 2016 draft?
Option C) Am I in a draft position or have draft picks to move into a specific position to get a franchise quarterback in the 2016 draft?
As of right now, the 2016 Draft offers three quarterbacks who may be worthy of a first- or second-round draft pick and may become a starter Day 1 or developed into a starter within a year(s) of grooming with the expectation of being the franchise guy at quarterback:
1) Jared Goff (California) – My NFL Comparison = Matt Ryan
Same stature, physical traits and similar talent level entering NFL, leadership.
2) Conner Cook (Michigan State) – My NFL Comparison = Joe Flacco
Flacco’s willingness to throw in tight situations, high risk/high reward, ability to find way to win.
3) Christian Hackenberg (Penn State) – My NFL Comparison = Matthew Stafford
The physical arm talent to easily thrive in NFL, needs work on decision-making process.
At this point, general managers would need to be willing to head into 2016 with the quarterbacks above as their starter knowing they are in a rebuilding mode. Which teams may choose this as their best possible option over going with a veteran?
Looking at the current situation about halfway through the 2015 season, here is how those 12 teams stack up in the league rankings from best to worst:
- Denver Broncos: 7–0
- New York Jets: 4–3
- St. Louis Rams: 4–3
- Buffalo Bills: 3–4
- Washington: 3–4
- Philadelphia Eagles: 3–4
- New Orleans Saints: 4–4
- Chicago Bears: 2–5
- Kansas City Chiefs: 3–5
- Houston Texans: 3–5
- Cleveland Browns: 2–6
- San Francisco 49ers: 2–6