With the quarterback position potentially facing the biggest overhaul in decades this offseason, the fantasy quarterback options for 2020 will contain a lot of guessing games and uncertainty. This may not be the year to wait on the position, but for now, let’s do some speculation.
Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Dak Prescott, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill are out of contract. Taysom Hill is a restricted free agent, while Jacoby Brissett, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and even possibly Derek Carr and Ryan Fitzpatrick could move on.
Let’s look ahead to the teams where the options appear to be clear cut
- Arizona will start Kyler Murray
- Atlanta will start Matt Ryan
- Baltimore will start Lamar Jackson
- Buffalo will start Josh Allen
- Denver will start Drew Lock
- Green Bay will start Aaron Rodgers
- Houston will start Deshaun Watson
- Jacksonville will start Nick Foles or Gardner Minshew
- Kansas City will start Patrick Mahomes II
- Los Angeles Rams will start Jared Goff
- Minnesota will start Kirk Cousins
- NY Giants will start Daniel Jones
- NY Jets will start Sam Darnold
- Philadelphia will start Carson Wentz
- Pittsburgh will start Ben Roethlisberger
- San Francisco will start Jimmy Garoppolo
- Seattle will start Russell Wilson
There is a small chance we see free agent action in Denver, Jacksonville, and San Francisco, but that will depend on the quality of the player available (eg if Tom Brady wants to play in San Francisco) or in the case of Jacksonville the availability of quality options leads to a bargain (eg Marcus Mariota or Teddy Bridgewater) available for a backup price.
Some of the teams above such as Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and even Green Bay may look at a quarterback in the first few rounds of the draft as well.
After that, we are left with 15 situations where there is a degree of fluidity.
It is very likely that...
Chicago has won in spite of Trubisky over the last two years and the team may look for a veteran to challenge him in potentially the final year of his rookie deal. Teddy Bridgewater or Andy Dalton may appeal depending on how the rest of the market shakes out.
A new head coach and general manager in Cleveland may place pressure on Baker Mayfield by signing a veteran. This is an unlikely turn of events, but significantly higher than eg San Francisco moving on from Jimmy Garoppolo. Cleveland is not likely to be the first choice of your Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Philip Rivers type. A more likely situation is the Browns signing a quality backup that can’t find a starting gig elsewhere.
Detroit cannot get rid of Matthew Stafford easily, but there is the possibility of a trade or a post-June 1 cut, especially if the back injuries that have sidelined or troubled him the last two years are not resolved to the team's satisfaction or Stafford himself wants out. Matt Patricia has to see a significant improvement to hold onto his job and this isn’t the worst roster in the NFL to attract a quality option. Unlikely, but you never know. The third pick in the NFL draft is also a tantalizing possibility to upgrade longterm at the position as is signing a veteran that cannot land a starting job.
Washington should have Alex Smith and his huge cap hit return as well as being a possible landing spot for Cam Newton were he to be available later in free agency at a cheaper price. It makes sense to invest in Dwayne Haskins given the draft price paid, but the new head coach Ron Rivera could easily put Haskins in the backup position if he doesn’t like what he sees.
We are down to 11 teams.
Carolina may keep Cam Newton. With a new coaching group, several veterans moving on and Newton’s injury history over the last few years, in addition to costing a very minimal hit on their cap to release or trade him, I suspect his days in Carolina are over.
Options are to play Newton, tank for a top 2021 quarterback in the draft like Trevor Lawrence or sign a comparatively inexpensive veteran to challenge Will Grier and Kyle Allen such as Marcus Mariota or Teddy Bridgewater.
Cincinnati is expected to draft Joe Burrow and start him from day one. Should he not be ready, an appropriate veteran will take the early season punishment. Andy Dalton is signed but will cost nothing to cut and it will save the team over $17 million on the salary cap. It would be a big surprise to see Dalton remaining a Bengal.
Dallas is negotiating with Dak Prescott who is likely to be franchised or signed long term at the start of the new league year. There is a chance that signing a big name like Brady or Brees will be attractive for a team ready to win now so Prescott starting in 2020 with a new head coach in Mike McCarthy for Dallas isn’t a sure thing.
Indianapolis can move on from Jacoby Brissett with a reasonable dead cap figure of $12.5 million. At the very least Brissett will face a challenge from a veteran or a rookie drafted in the first two rounds. Brissett may be kept on, but his starting days are on thin ice and an upgrade attempt for the Colts is a near certainty.
The Los Angeles Chargers signed Tyrod Taylor last season on a two-year contract that screamed they were moving on from Philip Rivers after the 2019 season, with Taylor being a bridge to a rookie quarterback. A veteran or even Rivers coming back isn’t entirely out of the question either. With the sixth pick in the NFL draft, they have the opportunity to build for the future but may look to lure an established veteran such as Tom Brady.
The Las Vegas Raiders have Derek Carr on a very team-friendly deal where they can cut or trade him with only a five million dollar cap hit and save themselves over 20 million in return. Carr is a good option should they fail to lure a veteran such as Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Philip Rivers. You can be sure Jon Gruden and the Raiders will be looking to make a splash in their new city and know they have Carr locked up should a more credentialled veteran not find Las Vegas desirable.
Miami is expected to build for the future and target a rookie with their high draft pick. They have Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen on very friendly deals to either keep or move on from should the need arise. All signs point to the Dolphins targeting Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth pick in the NFL draft and giving him time to recover from his injuries. If the Dolphins fear another team swapping picks with the Lions or Giants, they may be forced to make the move themselves.
New England is in a dilemma that they haven’t seen for two decades. What to do with the quarterback position? Tom Brady could return, but will at least explore his options. Jarrett Stidham may or may not be ready. Will they draft a rookie? Will they envisage something unusual with Taysom Hill? What happens here will be one of the more intriguing situations in the offseason. It is hard to imagine Tom Brady not returning, but the Patriots will be prepared either way and they will be an attractive destination for any free agent.
Drew Brees has the job in New Orleans if he wants it and all expectations are that he will agree to terms with the Saints. Teddy Bridgewater proved he could run the offense well with the lengthy thumb injury to Brees. Taysom Hill is the wildcard and depending on if another team has a plan for his skillset, New Orleans may not be able to afford him. Sean Payton though really knows how to use Hill well and would like him around even with a Drew Brees return. It is highly likely that Brees and New Orleans can agree on a number, but until the deal is signed it remains an open position. The future of Taysom Hill is less certain.
Tampa Bay will be a fun team to watch as we approach free agency. Will they franchise Jameis Winston? It’s unlikely but also possible he gets a long term deal or they could just announce they have had enough and land an equally interesting option such as Philip Rivers. What happens here is likely to have a knock-on effect on the rest of the market. If Winston stays, some of the veterans such as Rivers and Andy Dalton may be scrambling for a new home.
Tennessee should be putting all efforts into keeping Ryan Tannehill, but if the two sides cannot reach a deal we enter unknown waters. Marcus Mariota will be gone, so Tannehill has leverage. It is unlikely another team values his services higher so it will be a delicate series of negotiations or they can just franchise tag him and delay the process for another year. Rumors of trying to attract Tom Brady cannot be dismissed lightly either.
- Carolina – Marcus Mariota and Kyle Allen
- Chicago – Mitchell Trubisky and Andy Dalton
- Cincinnati – Joe Burrow
- Cleveland – Baker Mayfield
- Dallas – Dak Prescott
- Detroit – Matthew Stafford and Teddy Bridgewater
- Indianapolis – Jameis Winston and Jacoby Brissett
- LA Chargers – Tyrod Taylor and Justin Herbert
- Las Vegas – Derek Carr
- Miami – Tua Tagovailoa and Ryan Fitzpatrick
- New England – Tom Brady
- New Orleans – Drew Brees and Taysom Hill
- Tampa Bay – Philip Rivers
- Tennessee – Ryan Tannehill
- Washington – Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins, and Cam Newton