The quarterback carousel is expected to swing swiftly and violently this NFL offseason. With that in mind, let’s rank the 22 most notable signal-callers who will or could become available in the coming weeks and months.
22. Cam Newton: The 2015 MVP hasn’t been good since he was the 2015 MVP. But he still rushed for, like, 45 touchdowns in 2020 and could potentially be decent in the right system. He’s probably toast, though.
21. Nick Foles: Foles has made a semi-legendary career out of a few well-timed but short-lived hot streaks. For 99 percent of his career, he’s looked and played like a backup. That’s his role moving forward.
20. Andy Dalton: Dalton is a slightly less advanced case of Foles.
19. Drew Lock: The 2019 second-round pick’s arm may have been manufactured by Lockheed Martin, but he’s extremely unpolished and consistent accuracy may be a bridge too far.
18. Mitchell Trubisky: The bust from atop the 2017 draft scored some points and redeemed himself to a small extent with a nice run late in his fourth season, but he’s been so ineffective overall that a starting role is likely far out of reach right now.
17. Ryan Fitzpatrick: Let’s not pretend the lows outweigh the highs, but there’s significant variance with the old man. That makes him a high-quality backup, as does the fact he’s as wise as Santa Claus.
16. Gardner Minshew II: The magic has worn off for the most part, and now he’ll likely settle into a long-term backup role, but nobody can rule out the man with the ‘stache.
15. Teddy Bridgewater: The 28-year-old is usually extremely reliable, but he’s allergic to the first-down marker. That lack of big-play ability probably means he won’t win as a starter unless he’s in the perfect spot.
14. Mac Jones: The former Alabama quarterback might need some time at the NFL level, but has the arm talent and “it” factor to become a strong starter in the right spot.
13. Marcus Mariota: There’s no denying he has the talent, and he’s had some nice moments. He’s also only 27, so let’s not rule out redemption in the right place.
12. Jameis Winston: The 27-year-old former No. 1 overall pick put up 5,109 passing yards and 33 touchdowns a year ago. What…what if Sean Payton fixed him?
11. Carson Wentz: Right in the midst of his prime, Wentz might have been the worst quarterback in the NFL in 2020. Then again, he was one of the best in 2017, and he was usually above average in 2018 and 2019. He has the goods and it’s possible he’ll soon prove 2020 was an aberration. It’s also possible he’s done.
10. Sam Darnold: He hasn’t been healthy often enough and has certainly not been well-supported. He’s also still only 23 years old. It’s far too early to give up on the 2018 No. 3 overall pick.
9. Tua Tagovailoa: Ditto for this 22-year-old, who struggled in nine starts as a rookie but was always expected to need time.
8. Trey Lance: He very well could be the NFL’s next Lamar Jackson, but he could also be the NFL’s next Vince Young.
7. Derek Carr: It’s fair to wonder if he can ever carry an offense on his shoulders, but the 29-year-old was the league’s 10th-highest-rated passer last year.
6. Jimmy Garoppolo: It’s fair to wonder the same about the injury-prone Garoppolo, but the 29-year-old was the league’s eighth-highest-rated passer in his last full season (2019).
5. Justin Fields: We’ll see how ready he is, but the athleticism is awesome and the Ohio State product will likely be a top-10 pick because of that potential.
4. Zach Wilson: He looks like the complete package coming out of BYU, but he’s coming out of BYU. There’s a lot up in the air here, but the potential is tantalizing.
3. Trevor Lawrence: The highly-touted Clemson product is an even more complete package and looks like the next big thing.
2. Dak Prescott: The two-time Pro Bowler was the league’s most prolific passer before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in October, but he’ll be back for another year of his prime in 2021. Will that come in Dallas?
1. Deshaun Watson: We’ll see if the Houston Texans actually give in and trade the second-highest-rated passer in NFL history in his prime. If they do so, it will be an unprecedented move. Watson is one of the top 10 players in the league.