Updated Feb. 7, 2020
This is a feature I do every year prior to the combine. I will attempt to predict where the prominent free agent and rookie quarterbacks will land during the offseason. Here’s the full list of the significant quarterbacks available this spring:
With so many teams that need quarterbacks, this game of quarterback musical chairs is going to make this spring extremely interesting.
So, why wait? I’m going to project all of these quarterbacks to teams on this page, and I may update this if I hear anything, or if any news breaks. Here are my projections, alphabetically:
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
The Dolphins and Raiders have both courted Tom Brady. Indianapolis remains an intriguing option. Brady could join one of those three teams. He sold his New England house, after all.
And yet, I’m projecting a return to New England. I have to believe the Patriots will find a way to get Brady back for at least one more year, and I think that Brady’s real-estate ventures were done merely for leverage.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints
I would also assume that Drew Brees will return to his team. Brees said he wants to ponder his NFL future for about a month, but Sean Payton told the media that he wants to re-sign his future Hall of Fame quarterback. Brees, by the way, said that he’s open to giving more snaps to his eventual successor, Taysom Hill, in 2020.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Bears
It was great to see Teddy Bridgewater return to form in 2019. It looked like he might have to settle for a backup role for his entire career in the wake of his gruesome knee injury a few years ago, but he has finally returned to the quarterback who led his team to what would’ve been a playoff victory had his kicker not whiffed on a chip-shot field goal.
Bridgewater proved that he can be a starter in the NFL again, so he’s going to leave New Orleans for a No. 1 job elsewhere. One of the teams he defeated during his undefeated streak in the middle of the 2019 campaign was Chicago. Bridgewater torched the Bears, who might have been very impressed by what they saw from him. The Bears need a veteran quarterback to take over for Mitchell Trubisky, so perhaps they’ll pursue Bridgewater to displace the failed No. 2 overall pick.
Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
This is the easiest projection, as Joe Burrow is locked into the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The only way Burrow doesn’t go to Cincinnati is if he pulls an Eli Manning and declares that he doesn’t want to play for the team picking atop the draft.
Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
Jake Fromm doesn’t have great arm strength, but NFL personnel loves his intangibles. He seems like the sort of quarterback Bill Belichick would want quarterbacking his team for the foreseeable future. Perhaps the Patriots will select Fromm toward the end of the opening round.
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The scuttlebutt pertaining to Justin Herbert is that the Chargers like him and plan on selecting him sixth overall. Of course, the Chargers typically conceal what they want to do very well, as general manager Tom Telesco is one of the best decision-makers in the NFL. Still, Herbert going to the Chargers simply makes too much sense, given the reports that the team has decided to move on from the Florida-bound Philip Rivers.
Taysom Hill, QB, Saints
The Saints consider Tayson Hill as their successor to Drew Brees, so they won’t let him get away. Hill could be New Orleans’ starting quarterback as early as 2021.
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
The Steelers have announced that they won’t add a quarterback in free agency. They could have stated that they wouldn’t add one this offseason, but given that they explicitly said free agency, it seems as though they’ll target a signal-caller in the draft.
Jordan Love seems like a nice fit for Pittsburgh. He has loads of talent, but has poor field vision and mechanics, so he’s not ready to start just yet. The Steelers could choose him in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft and have him sit for a year or two with the plan for him to take over for Ben Roethlisberger when the future Hall of Famer retires.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans
I’ve seen some mock drafts project a quarterback to the Colts at No. 13. I could see the pick being Justin Herbert, but I would be shocked if Indianapolis reached for Jordan Love at that juncture. The Colts already have a young quarterback in Jacoby Brissett, so I think it makes more sense for them to sign a veteran.
The Colts are very familiar with Marcus Mariota, having seen him twice per year. That may not seem like a good thing, given Mariota’s benching this past year, but perhaps Frank Reich believes that he can develop Mariota into the quarterback he was expected to be when Tennessee selected him second overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys
The Cowboys are stuck in a tough spot with Dak Prescott. If they overpay him, they’ll be in a rough cap situation with just an above-average quarterback – a situation that has ruined the Lions, Vikings and Rams lately. If they don’t overpay him, they’ll have to begin from square one, or as one Hall of Fame running back once said, square zero.
It’s tough to tell what Jerry Jones will do. At the very least, Jones can franchise Presoctt, much like the Redskins did with Kirk Cousins, another above-average signal-caller.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers
Some have connected the dots between Philip Rivers and the Buccaneers, and they’ve done so convincingly. The Buccaneers are a team that is ready to win now. They have loads of talent at receiver; their offensive line is solid; and their defense improved this past season. They need a quarterback who doesn’t throw 30 interceptions; a veteran Arians can have success with, much like he did with Carson Palmer in Arizona.
I’m sure Rivers would love to sign with the Buccaneers. Airing the ball out to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will sound intriguing, and it’s nice that he’ll be able to remain in Florida, where he moved his wife and 500 kids.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross traveled to see Tua Tagovailoa play twice during the 2019 season. An NFL owner never does that. Ross then met Tagovailoa a third time at the Leigh Steinberg Super Bowl party. And if that’s not an indication of how much Miami loves Tagovailoa, consider that the team stopped tanking the minute that Tagovailoa suffered an injury. The Dolphins love Tagovailoa so much that I have them moving up to take him in my 2020 NFL Mock Draft.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans
No one could’ve seen Ryan Tannehill’s resurgence last year, as he inexplicably qaurterbacked the Titans to the AFC Championship. What Tannehill did was remarkable, but I can understand if Tennessee is a bit skeptical. Much like the Cowboys with Dak Prescott, the Titans could opt to franchise Tannehill just to buy themselves another year before they have to make a big decision.
Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers
One reason why the Dolphins may have to trade up to No. 2 overall is because the Lions could select Tua Tagovailoa. Matthew Stafford has some severe back problems, so Detroit might fear that he could pull an Andrew Luck and retire a few weeks before the season.
The Lions need a viable backup just in case that happens. They might be inclined to pay extra for a No. 2 quarterback after what happened last year, and Winston has the upside to lead a team to the playoffs. He obviously has a very low floor as well, but it’s not like Detrioit has many other quality options.
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