The Footballguys staff was asked to mention their most significant veteran quarterback who changed teams over the offseason. Most significant can have a lot of meaning, so - in this case - it means we just asked our guys to pick the quarterback they most wanted to write about. Here are the results.
Sam Bradford - 8 mentions
Bloom - Bradford will actually be the most skilled passer to pilot the Chip Kelly offense to date, which means we don't know his or the pass offense's true upside this year. Of course, letting Jeremy Maclin walk could deflate the passing game a bit if first-round pick Nelson Agholor isn't ready for prime time. Still, with Atlanta, Dallas, Washington, New Orleans, and the Giants up in five of the first six games, Bradford is poised to be a great leadoff hitter in a streaming approach, as long as you can tolerate the risk of getting hurt during a game and sinking that week.
Haseley - The NFL Draft is over and there was no change in the Eagles depth chart at quarterback. It's safe to assume the plan of action for Chip Kelly's offense is to be run by veteran and former number one draft pick, Sam Bradford. The Eagles run a fairly simple offense, which may be one of the reasons why quarterbacks have had good success in Kelly's system. Last year Eagles quarterbacks had multiple touchdown pass games in 10 of the team's 16 games. I'm not necessarily expecting a Top 6 year from Bradford, but I do believe he'll have success and be a decent fantasy option.
Hester - The most significant move at the quarterback position during the NFL’s free agency period was not a signing but a trade. Philadelphia and St. Louis swapped quarterbacks with Nick Foles heading to St. Louis and Sam Bradford heading to Philadelphia. Bradford’s injury history is far from promising, but he’s still a player who was talented enough to be taken with the first overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. He ran a high-tempo system in college predicated on quick decisions and timing passes, which sounds a lot like Chip Kelly’s offensive philosophy. He’s also joined by former college teammate and roommate DeMarco Murray, who shifted his priority to signing with the Eagles upon being courted by Bradford after the trade. Any player in Kelly’s offense is intriguing, but one with the pedigree of Bradford is especially so.
Holloway - Bradford is the quarterback in a new home who piques the greatest interest for the upcoming 2015 season. Bradford, the 1st overall pick in the 2010 draft, has struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness over this career. He comes into this season having missed 31 games over five years, including the entire 2014 season. He has a career completion rate of only 58.6% and his passes gain only 6.29 yards per attempt. However, apparently he will be given the first shot at leading the Eagles’ high-octane offense which ran the most plays from scrimmage a year ago and finished third in scoring and fifth in yards.
Parsons - Not many options for a high-impact veteran changing teams. The Eagles offense has generated fantasy QB1 status for run-of-the-mill talents like Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez of late and Sam Bradford has more natural arm talent than either one. While the rushing ability will not be there, the Eagles added receivers in the draft as well. Bradford is a high-upside backup with QB1 upside with the big question mark being healthy for any meaningful stretch.
Pasquino - The quarterback that leaps to my mind here is Sam Bradford. Getting a fresh start in Philadelphia with Chip Kelly could be the best thing that happened for both Bradford and Kelly. While everyone has been focused on the hunt and hope for a trade to get Marcus Mariota, the Eagles secured their Plan B, which now is Plan A, for this coming season for their signal caller. Trading Nick Foles to the Rams for Bradford screams loudly how much Kelly did not want Foles as his quarterback. The upside is huge for Bradford with solid offensive weapons (Jordan Matthews, rookie Nelson Agholor, tight end Zach Ertz plus running backs DeMarco Murray, Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews), but Bradford must remain healthy – something he just could not do in St. Louis. The Eagles must protect well, which will be a big challenge for an offensive line that has not added any help via the draft for two straight years and only had one starter (Jason Peters) play all 16 games last season.
Wimer - The trade of Sam Bradford to the Eagles for the services of Nick Foles to the Rams is the most significant offseason player movement at the quarterback position. We'll now get to see if Chip Kelly's football science can help keep Bradford more healthy/playing (it'll have been almost two years since he last played in an NFL regular-season game come September 2015, Bradford having last competed in Week 7 of 2013 - his most recent serious injury is re-tearing his left knee's ACL). Also, both players were in need of a change-of-location/team which gives both quarterbacks a chance to hit the reset button on their careers. We very rarely see a swap of starting-caliber quarterbacks at the NFL level, which gives this trade some extra interest for NFL junkies/historians. From the fantasy perspective, the high-octane Eagles offense that Bradford finds himself in looks far more promising than the rebuilding Rams program that Foles inherits.
Wood - It seems an era ago when Sam Bradford was the 1st overall pick by the St. Louis Rams. The last in an era of skyrocketing rookie free agent deals, that led to a new rookie salary structure in the new CBA. The reality is Bradford is only 27 years old and is entering his 6th season with a new lease on life, following a trade to the Philadelphia Eagles. Bradford has missed chunks of three seasons, and has effectively missed the entirety of the last two years dealing with knee injuries. In spite of his checkered injury history, Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly aggressively pursued Bradford, and sent Nick Foles -- the starter of the last two seasons -- back to St. Louis in return. When healthy, Bradford remains a compelling, high upside option at a scarce position. He ran a spread offense in college, has the quick release and ability to survey the field that Kelly requires, and joins a team that fielded a Top 5 offense with the likes of Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez, and Michael Vick at the helm.
Brian Hoyer - 2 mentions
Brimacombe - Hoyer gets a big boast in physical talent surrounding him in Houston as he will have a star running back in Arian Foster to rely on and take some of the pressure off of him on passing downs. His supporting cast in the passing game is also a huge upgrade to what he had to work with in Cleveland as now he has a young talent in DeAndre Hopkins who broke out in a big way last season, and also some veteran wideouts in Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington to go along with newly drafted Jaelon Strong out of Arizona State. Hoyer will have to battle with Ryan Mallett and Tom Savage to win the starting QB job in Houston but that should only motivate him and help him to come out swinging and make a good impression on coaches and follow teammates.
Hicks - Quarterback is one position where established starters rarely change teams via free agency, but journeymen sometimes develop into reliable starters for their new teams. Brian Hoyer is a guy to keep an eye on this season following his move from the chaos of Cleveland to the stability of Houston. He will need to beat out Ryan Mallett who also signed a 2-year contract. Both have familiarity with head coach Bill O’Brien from their mutual days with the Patriots in 2011 when Hoyer served as the backup to Tom Brady and Mallett was a rookie. Hoyer has the bigger contract, with more guaranteed money and has significantly more experience as a starter. The Texans have a highly rated defense, strong running game and an improving offensive line. The departure of an aging Andre Johnson is made up for by the addition of Cecil Shorts, Nate Washington, and rookie Jaelen Strong. Third-year man DeAndre Hopkins however is fast tracking himself as an elite receiver and will serve as an excellent starter for Hoyer to lean on. If Hoyer can beat out Mallett in training camp he will be an underrated option this year in fantasy drafts.
Josh McCown - 2 mentions
Feery - Josh McCown wins almost by default, as a typically weak free agent quarterback class was particularly disappointing this year. McCown should be given the reigns to lead the Browns in Week 1, barring an incredible training camp and preseason performance from Johnny Manziel. As long as he doesn’t implode and the offense is somewhat respectable, I would expect McCown to start for most of the season, perhaps stepping aside if the Browns slide out of contention. Manziel, hopefully on his way to a full recovery and ready to put the demons behind him, could benefit from some time with the clipboard and some veteran mentorship from McCown. Honorable mention goes to Mark Sanchez, as his knowledge of the Chip Kelly offense will be a huge benefit to the Eagles if the injury bug comes back to bite Sam Bradford.
VanderWoude - The quarterback position in Cleveland has been a wasteland in terms of production, but even worse, the Browns have lacked a leader. The McCown signing was not a sexy pick on paper, but it did solve a very pressing need, and one that could have benefits long after his three year, 14 million dollar contract is over. McCown was brought to Cleveland for two main reasons, to push Manziel and the other quarterbacks, and to provide a blueprint on how hard a quarterback needs to work to prepare for each and every game. Josh McCown has been a journeyman throughout his NFL career, playing for six different teams in 12 seasons. While he is not the poster boy for stability (something Cleveland desperately needs), he is certainly a pro's pro, evidenced by the fact that he has been able to step into a starting role for five of his six teams. If the Browns need one thing for their future at the quarterback position, it is someone who can mentor Johnny Manziel and make sure his priorities are in order. Despite the fact that McCown should begin the season as the Browns starter, this signing was about much more than finding a stop-gap at quarterback for one or two seasons. If Manziel is ever going to be a long term starting quarterback in the NFL, the Browns found the right guy to show him the way.
Ryan Fitzpatrick - 1 mention
Howe - After flashing as a rookie, Geno Smith proved just as overwhelmed and turnover-prone as we’d all feared, coughing up eight fumbles and posting a rough 3.54% interception rate in 2014. Fourth-round rookie Bryce Petty has potential, but it seems like a foregone conclusion that Ryan Fitzpatrick, acquired for a conditional seventh-round pick, will be under center in Week 1. In New York, Fitzpatrick will be reunited with offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, under whom he threw 71 touchdowns across 45 Buffalo starts from 2010-12. He’ll lead the same spread attack that allowed him to maximize an embarrassing dearth of skill-position talent in Buffalo. And he’ll benefit from a wideout corps suddenly heavy on playmakers – starters Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall have turned a sterling 7.2% of their targets into touchdowns over the last three years, and rookie Devin Smith is one of the best deep threat prospects in quite some time. The table seems set for Fitzpatrick to hold off all comers and lead the Jets in 2015. And the surrounding factors make him one of the sexiest QB2 options at the bottom of your draft.
Nick Foles - 1 mention
Heiser - This upcoming season is going to be an interesting one for the St. Louis Rams. It will be the first since 2010 without former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford on the roster, with Nick Foles taking over under center. Foles shores up an offensive unit that is full of young talent, both at running back and wide receiver. All the Rams need now is for their quarterback to stay healthy for an entire season, something Bradford was rarely able to do during his tenure in St. Louis. The sky is the limit for Foles and the Rams' offense.
Ryan Mallett - 1 mention
Tefertiller - In a year with few viable quarterbacks changing teams in free agency, the Texans re-signing of free agent Ryan Mallett might have the largest fantasy impact. Mallett, along with newly-acquired Brian Hoyer, played under Houston head coach Bill O'Brien in New England. The Texans will throw the ball frequently and there is a talented receiving corps in which to target. Mallett is a strong-armed passer able to hit targets down the field. There is a chance that Hoyer beats Mallett out, but the former was less than spectacular last season in Cleveland. The winner of this quarterback battle could finish as a Top 15 fantasy quarterback.
Mark Sanchez - 1 mention
Alexander - Ignoring the traded quarterbacks, Mark Sanchez is your winner of the Best Smelling Garbage Man award for most significant quarterback signing in this year's horrendous free agent class. To achieve the honor, Sanchez narrowly edged out the ghastly duo of Matt Cassel and Josh McCown, both of whom are likely to appear in more games this season. While Sanchez currently projects as Philadelphia's backup, at least he brings proven fantasy upside to the table when pressed into action. Buoyed by Chip Kelly’s fast paced offense that led the league in offensive plays per game, Sanchez was a Top 10 fantasy quarterback after taking over for the injured Nick Foles in Week 9 last season. If (when) Sam Bradford re-mangles his knees and shoulders, Sanchez has to be considered a top quarterback streaming option, if not a set-it-and-forget-it fantasy starter.
Tyrod Taylor - 1 mention
Simpkins - Let's dig deep here. On a team that has been building a speed-based offensive attack for years now, the acquisition of Taylor becomes particularly interesting. Ryan is promising a legitimate competition at quarterback, and we know he isn’t afraid to be a bit of an unconventional thinker. Taylor has the skillset to run the zone read effectively, which would generate the rushing numbers that fantasy owners love to get from their quarterbacks. With his competition being pretty poor, it is not impossible to imagine a scenario where Taylor ends up the Week 1 starter.
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